China opens door to Levin

Yale President Richard Levin is cultivating some of the University’s long-distance academic relationships this week with colleges on the other side of the world.

Levin and other Yale administrators left New Haven last weekend and are currently travelling around China, making stops at Chinese universities where Levin is slated to give speeches and to discuss educational collaboration projects. As part of his trip, Levin has already spoken at Fudan University, taught a class on leadership at Tsinghua University and joined in celebrating Yale Day at Peking University.

During the week-long trip, Levin and the rest of the Yale delegation will participate in briefings with senior Chinese government officials and scholars. Levin is also scheduled to make appearances on some Chinese talk shows.

This week’s trip coincides with the 25th Anniversary of China’s open door policy, marking 25 years of educational exchanges between Yale and China. Levin last visited China in 2001 to celebrate Yale’s tercentennial.

Levin said Monday in an e-mail from China that his trip has gone smoothly thus far. Levin said during the visit, University officials announced plans to create a Fudan-Yale Center for Biomedical Research and a Fudan-Yale Center for Educational Cooperation. The Center for Educational Cooperation will house a videoconference facility that will link the two schools, facilitating joint seminar classes, Levin said.

“We had some valuable meetings with colleagues at Fudan to explore possibilities for future collaboration,” Levin wrote in the e-mail.

Levin received an honorary doctoral degree when he visited Peking University, Dow Tang ’06, who teaches English at the university, said in an e-mail from China. In conjunction with the award, the university organized a Yale Day where Yale professors, including famed Chinese historian Jonathan Spence, lectured in their areas of expertise.

Tang said in China, Yale is viewed as an “unmatched [university] in terms of reputation.” Levin is also highly respected and “important” in the country, he said.

Yale’s relationship with China and visits such as Levin’s attract Chinese students to the University, Yale history professor Beatrice Bartlett said. After past visits to China, Levin returned with a list of potential Chinese student applicants, she said.

Levin said the Yale-China relationship contributes to the University’s commitment to internationalism.

“It really was about six years ago that we started thinking seriously about a major commitment to internationalism,” Levin said. “Pretty early on we realized that China should be a major focus. It’s an immense pool of creative talent.”

Levin’s trip to China is part of a longstanding history between Yale and China, Bartlett said. In 1854, Yale graduate Yung Wing became the first Chinese person to graduate from an American university. Wing later set up a foundation to send more Chinese students to New England universities and Yale received most of these students, Bartlett said.

The beginning of the Yale-China Association in 1901 further linked Yale and China. Today the international partnership continues through language study programs, fellowships and other programs.

Bartlett said she thinks the future of the Yale-China relationship will lead to a better understanding of a different culture’s perspective.

“I think friendship and understanding of different cultures is part of what education is all about,” Bartlett said. “Understanding how people look at the world is a very important thing. And that’s where I think our international program and our scholarship [with China] is heading.”

President Richard Levin speaks at Peking University during his last visit to China in 2001. Levin participated in Yale Day at Peking University during his current tour of China. He also visited Fudan and Tsinghua universities.
Courtesy OPA
President Richard Levin speaks at Peking University during his last visit to China in 2001. Levin participated in Yale Day at Peking University during his current tour of China. He also visited Fudan and Tsinghua universities.

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