By Ben Mattison
In a sign of Yale SOM’s growing connections to China, the school has in recent months received several generous gifts from alumni and other leaders in China that will enrich key programs and initiatives at the school.
According to Joel Getz, Yale SOM’s senior associate director for development and alumni relations, Yale SOM alumni in China are particularly engaged with the school. Alumni in China are among the most generous, giving to the Alumni Fund at one of the highest rates, and with one of the largest average gifts, of graduates in any country. And the China and Hong Kong alumni chapters are among the most active.
“We’re incredibly proud of our alumni and friends in Asia,” Getz said. “In addition to so many transformative gifts, our alumni and friends there consistently support the school and each other.”
Recent gifts from China include a substantial gift from Jack Ling ’97 and He Xin to name a new student lounge in Edward P. Evans Hall and support a number of areas across the school, including the Alumni Fund and the International Center for Finance. They also contributed to a series of initiatives honoring former Dean Edward A. Snyder and designated a portion of their gift to support new initiatives of Dean Kerwin K. Charles.
Ling, who is currently a partner at Prime Capital Management, one of the earliest and largest China-focused long/short equity hedge funds, said that he was fortunate to participate in the early development of the Chinese mutual fund and hedge fund industries—and that his Yale education had prepared him well to take full advantage of the opportunities in the two decades since.
Ling recalled that he was one of the few MBA students who were granted the chance to work with Professor William Goetzmann, director of the International Center for Finance, as a research assistant. “Will has influenced me tremendously in articulating my investment style over the long run,” Ling said. “At the time, his research in areas such as re-emerging markets and art collection investments were very cutting-edge.”
Kevin Ye ’04 was also a major supporter of the initiatives honoring Snyder, and established a scholarship at Yale SOM to support students in the joint degree program with the Yale School of Public Health.
Sally Shan ’97 and Michael Lee made a gift to name a terrace in the Edward P. Evans Hall courtyard and supported the Alumni Fund and the initiatives honoring Snyder.
“My SOM experience from over 20 years ago had helped forge my goal to be a socially responsible leader in business and community,” Shan said. “It is an honor to be able to contribute to the Edward Evans Hall where students grow and celebrate life, where they reflect on SOM’s journey to a global leading school led by Dean Snyder and many other deans. I am also thrilled to be able to support Dean Charles’ initiatives in taking SOM to a new height.”
Guan Wang has endowed the Guan Wang Curriculum and Program Development Fund at Yale University, which will support Yale SOM’s entrepreneurship offerings, with a particular focus on Yale College students and collaborations with institutions in China and Africa. He said that his gift was inspired by his family’s emphasis on education and its particular respect for Yale: “Before the age of 10, I was raised by my grandparents. My grandfather was the eldest son of Sun Chuanfang, a warlord of Southern China. As heir of a prestigious family, my grandfather graduated from Cheeloo University. He had great pride for his college; however, it was Yale that he constantly praised, telling me it was the university to attend.”
Recently, Wang said, he learned why his grandfather was so dedicated to Yale. Henry W. Luce, an 1892 graduate of Yale College and a founder of the Yale-in-China Association (now the Yale-China Association), helped raise the funds for Cheeloo University and served as its vice president.
He added, “My family has contributed to Cheeloo throughout the years, inspired by Yale’s sophistication and spirit for education. Today, I wish to do the same and continue to support the attitude that has inspired both myself and my ancestors.”
Francis Li has established endowed and current-use funds to support the Silver Scholars program, which allows exceptional college seniors to move directly into the MBA program and accelerate their careers, and to support scholarships for Silver Scholars. He said that he learned about Yale SOM from Brad Huang ’90, founder of Lotus Capital Management, a friend and business partner.
“Education changed my life, and I believe it will do the same for others,” he said. “As I learnt more about Yale, the more I became impressed by the influence of a Yale education to a person and its subsequent impact on the world. Thus, I hope that my contribution to the School of Management will extend to improved Sino-U.S. bilateral relationships in the future and beyond.”
Ken Xu and Jie Xu made a gift to the Fifth Decade Innovation Fund, which supports new initiatives, including curricular and programmatic innovations, the school’s global efforts, and the Program on Entrepreneurship. The Xu family also learned about the school through a friend: Raymond Chang ’96, “who is always talking Yale SOM to us,” Ken Xu said.
The Xus, who invest in U.S. biotech startups as well as Chinese companies, were also impressed by Yale SOM’s connections with two of the top venture capitalists in China, Neil Shen of Sequoia China and Lei Zhang ’02 of Hillhouse Capital Group. Shen, who earned his master’s degree at Yale, is a member of the Yale SOM Board of Advisors. Zhang is a member of the Yale Board of Trustees.
“They do make a great contribution to China’s economy—they support a lot of entrepreneurs to step up to a much higher level,” Ken Xu said. “We wanted to make a contribution to Yale SOM, because we hope SOM can educate more people like Neil Shen and Lei Zhang, to serve and support more developing countries.”