April 30—Yale University announced today the creation of the Yale Center Beijing, which will host leadership programming offered by schools and centers across the university. The Yale Center Beijing will be operated by the Yale School of Management (SOM), which will work to expand the growing array of conferences and workshops for Chinese leaders that Yale has offered in both China and New Haven. Yale will inaugurate the center with a major conference, convened by Yale SOM on October 27-28, 2014, that will underscore the breadth of the University's engagement with China.
Centrally located in Beijing's Chaoyang District, the facility will be a hub for leadership development activities, with advanced technological capabilities to connect Beijing with New Haven and other locations around the world, enabling meaningful, ongoing dialog. It will facilitate research, act as a platform for discussions and conferences, and provide a home base for professional and executive education efforts. It will also have offices for faculty from throughout Yale to use when they are in Beijing, as well as flexible workspace for SOM's MBA, MAM, and PhD students.
Yale SOM Dean Edward A. Snyder said, "This center is meaningful given the importance of China and the United States to the global economy, but also given their central roles in all major issues facing business and society. Moreover, China and the U.S. each have extensive relationships throughout the world. With a center in Beijing's vibrant Chaoyang District, we look forward to broad-based discussions with businesspeople, entrepreneurs, and public leaders on diverse issues, including improving health outcomes, environmental challenges, the increasing importance of creative arts, and managing financial assets. We are especially grateful to Yale's generous donors, particularly Neil Shen, who have worked to realize the synergy between Yale's ability to convene ongoing, important dialogs and the strategic importance of Beijing."
The center is made possible by generous gifts from two Yale alumni and one Yale friend who are committed to deepening the mutually beneficial relationship between the university and their home country. It will be Yale's only center in China, hosting programming from the entire university community. Further, it will become a vital intellectual hub for connecting leaders and leading institutions in all sectors, and will serve as an anchor for the growing and dynamic Yale alumni community in China. Neil Shen, founding managing partner of Sequoia Capital China; Bob Xiaoping Xu, founding partner of ZhenFund.com; and Brad Huang, founder of Lotus Capital Management, have together committed $16 million. Shen will chair the center's advisory board, while Xu will serve as vice chair.
Speaking on behalf of all three founding donors, Shen said, "Yale has a long history with China, as well as with Chinese students, dating back to 1854 when Yung Wing, the very first Chinese student to receive a degree from an American University, graduated from Yale." A member of the Yale President's Council on International Activities, Mr. Shen went on to say, "We admire how Yale has been convening so many thought leaders in China, and we want this center to facilitate and accelerate those efforts and to cultivate academic and cultural exchanges across a broad range of subjects between China and the United States. This can have widespread benefits for the future of China and, we feel, for Yale as well. We look forward to having additional Yale scholars and students spend more time in China due to this center and to the gatherings and activities that will take place there."
Yale University President Peter Salovey said, "Yale is a truly global university—in our programs and in our outlook. The new Yale Center Beijing enables us to both expand the global reach of the university and better support the work of Yale's schools and centers to collaborate in China. I am grateful to the founding donors, Neil Shen, Bob Xu, and Brad Huang, for this initiative, and especially to Neil, who has done so much to make it happen. I am very much looking forward to being in Beijing for the opening of the center in October." Dean Snyder added, "At the School of Management, we continually seek out ways in which to deepen our intellectual and programmatic connection to Yale for the benefit of our students, faculty, and alumni. This center and its opening conference will be another opportunity to engage all of Yale's schools and departments."
The location of the Yale Center in the Chaoyang District of Beijing.
The October 2014 opening conference inaugurating the center will feature Yale scholars in discussions with business and social sector leaders. Panels will include: a discussion of how leaders in the business, entrepreneurial, and social sectors can advance environmental and sustainability agendas, convened by the Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. Dean of Yale's School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Sir Peter Crane; a discussion on how to manage assets in light of the risks inherent in the global financial system, and how to coordinate global responses to financial crises; a conversation about the challenges of maintaining economic growth while providing for the healthcare needs of large populations; and, moderated by Robert Blocker, Yale's Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music, a discussion of the management of creative assets in a global marketplace.
"China and the United States are not a dyad—the codependency of the two economies is far more complex than that—but their voices are indispensable to any serious discussions on these topics," said Stephen Roach, China specialist and senior fellow at Yale's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and SOM senior lecturer. "I anticipate that this conference will frame many of the most important issues that will drive the China debate for years to come."
On October 27, Yale SOM's Chief Executive Leadership Institute (CELI) will host its fourth China CEO Summit—its 78th CEO event—at the newly inaugurated Yale Center Beijing. Yale CEO Summits bring together top corporate, nonprofit, and government leaders for candid discussion of the macro-scale challenges they all face. "With the opening of this center, Yale SOM will become the only business school with a physical presence in the world's two most important capital cities, Beijing and Washington, D.C., where we can continue to hold our important, uniquely candid, lively conversations with CEOs and public leaders at this, the world's first school for incumbent CEOs," said Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, SOM's senior associate dean for executive programs and Lester Crown Professor in the Practice of Management. Since 2011, CELI has held its CEO Caucus events in Washington, D.C., at its facilities directly overlooking Capitol Hill. Sonnenfeld, who is also the founder, president, and CEO of CELI, went on to say, "Both the center's opening conference and the CEO Summit in October demonstrate Yale's distinctive intellectual and cultural strengths across sectors and regions drawing upon Yale's 175 years of contributing to China's economic development." The theme of this program is "Trading Places: Sharing Perspectives on Trade, Diplomacy, Market Reform." CELI has hosted CEO Summits in Beijing and Shanghai since 2008.
The center will support the activities of all of Yale's schools and departments, and plans are already underway for a diverse slate of offerings in the center's first year. In 2015, for example, Yale's School of Architecture will convene a major symposium at the Yale Center Beijing entitled "Icons and Enclaves: New Architecture and Patterns of Urban Development in China." The event will bring together leading Chinese architects and academics with Yale School of Architecture Dean Robert A.M. Stern and Professor Alan Plattus for discussions about how recent projects by Chinese and international architects express, shape, and challenge the dynamics of explosive urban growth in China's cities. Building on Yale's annual joint architecture studio with Tsinghua University, the symposium will also explore models of contemporary practice that are critical and sustainable with respect to the opportunities and challenges faced by Chinese and other world cities.
The floor plan for the Yale Center Beijing. Rendering by M Moser Associates.
Yale has the longest and most substantive relations with China of any U.S. university—the study of China has been an integral part of the Yale curriculum since 1878. Since its founding, Yale SOM has built strong relationships with China as well. Students coming to the school from China constitute the largest overseas group and many alumni live and work there. The school has long operated executive education programs in China and New Haven for leading Chinese companies, including some of the most prominent state-owned enterprises. Fellows of the school's China Enterprise Initiative and China India Insights Program include world-renowned faculty experts in accounting, economics, finance, management, marketing, and strategy, as well as anthropology, environmental management, politics, public health, and sociology.
Professor of Finance Zhiwu Chen said, "Connections between Yale and China have already done so much to advance the mutual understanding of the world's two largest economies. Still, the Yale Center Beijing will help to create intellectual connections that might otherwise never have existed."
David Bach, Yale SOM's senior associate dean for executive MBA and global programs, commented, "The Yale Center Beijing will focus and leverage our many existing efforts vis-à-vis China and enable us to enhance the view our students and faculty get into this economically vital and influential region. I see this as one more proof point that Yale SOM is the optimal place to learn about the global economy."
For the past two years, the school has worked closely with Renmin University of China School of Business, Fudan University School of Management, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School through the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM), most recently hosting a team of students from Renmin for SOM's second annual Integrated Leadership Case Competition and a group of Fudan Executive MBA students for a module on global management. Snyder commented, "The new center is a complement to the development of the Global Network for Advanced Management, the first network of top business schools that focuses on advancing the education of top MBAs throughout the world. This resource in Beijing will advance our objective to be the most global U.S. business school, with extended lines of sight into all sectors and regions."
Two of the network's curricular offerings, Global Network Weeks and Global Network Courses, have been especially effective at fostering meaningful, lasting interactions among students from China, Yale, and elsewhere across the Global Network. Earlier this year, Renmin and Fudan partnered to offer "Doing Business in China," a Global Network Week originally conceived and taught by faculty at Fudan that leveraged the expertise and perspective of two of China's greatest business schools in an intensive introduction to Chinese capital markets, corporate finance and governance, strategic management, and other aspects of business in China for students from Yale and other GNAM member schools. Renmin has also offered a Global Network Week on entrepreneurship in emerging markets that focused on China as a timely case study. MBA students from Renmin and Fudan have participated in Global Network Courses, working alongside students from Yale and other Global Network schools in small heterogeneous teams on projects related to global competition policy and enforcement and global resource sustainability. Robert Thompson MBA '14, speaking about his experience, said, "Understanding the global interactions between markets and governments is more and more important. It's one of the reasons I came to SOM. The network course was a really great way to look at how different cultures embrace markets and figure out where they fit in them."
Joel Getz, SOM's senior associate dean for development and alumni relations, noted that Neil Shen, Brad Huang, and Bob Xu are all members of SOM's Board of Advisors. Neil Shen and Brad Huang also serve on the school's Greater China Board of Advisors, chaired by Brad Huang, a 1990 graduate of the school, from its inception in 2008 through 2013. Two other members of the school's Board of Advisors also expressed their enthusiasm for the project. Board Chair Timothy C. Collins, CEO and senior managing director of Ripplewood Holdings LLC, said, "There is broad support among alumni and friends of Yale SOM for the school's aspiration to be the most global U.S.-based business school. The Yale Center Beijing is one more advantage for the school as it pursues its mandate to engage the world economy." Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., chairman and CEO of WL Ross & Company, LLC, said, "All major companies have China strategies today, but many have not been very successful. To thrive, it is critical to deeply understand the development in China's markets, corporate governance structures, and other distinctive aspects of its culture. I very much look forward to the new knowledge and understanding that will arise from this project."
For information about programs at the new center, contact David Bach, Yale SOM's senior associate dean for executive MBA and global programs, at email@example.com. Media inquiries may be directed to Tabitha Wilde, SOM director of media relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Note: This article was edited to reflect the change of the center’s name from “Yale Leadership Center” to “Yale Center Beijing.”