As Yale Vice President for Development Charles Pagnam and University Provost Susan Hockfield recently learned, a distance of thousands of miles cannot weaken ties to Yale.
Hockfield and Pagnam traveled to Hong Kong last week to inform area alumni and parents about current University affairs. Fund raising was another purpose of the trip, Pagnam said. The visit marked Hockfield’s first international trip as provost.
During the week-long trip, Hockfield and Pagnam attended dinners and called on alumni. A week ago Thursday, Hockfield made a speech at the Yale Club in Hong Kong on the “priorities and plans at the University.” Topics included Science Hill renovation plans, international outreach and the academic review proposals, she said. The review, released in April, was the first of its kind in 30 years.
The Yale Club of Hong Kong has several hundred members, a significant number of people connected to the University for an overseas location, Pagnam said. Forty to 50 people attended Hockfield’s speech.
“This is a very active alumni group,” Pagnam said. “They are extremely gracious and interested in the University. They view the University as a real world treasure. They see Yale as a world leader.”
Pagnam said he viewed the trip as an opportunity for Yale to “continue to keep the lines of communication open.” Informing alumni, parents and “friends of the University” about Yale’s progress makes them more likely to give back to Yale, Pagnam said.
“When you’re doing development work, you’re trying to make people consider an investment in the University,” Pagnam said. “Our job is to try to heighten the level of inclination [to give].”
A number of those who received visits are already significant supporters of the University, Pagnam said.
Pagnam said he returned from the trip optimistic about Yale’s financial health. The University is financially ahead of where it was at this time last year, he said.
“Our cash is looking much better than last year,” Pagnam said.
During the weeklong trip Hockfield and Pagnam spent most of their time in Hong Kong, though they visited Singapore for a day.
Hockfield was impressed by the “real sense of devotion” she saw throughout her travels, she said. She said many alumni were interested in hearing about “the renaissance of Yale and New Haven.”
“Our alumni and friends have enthusiastic interest about what is going on on campus,” Hockfield said.
Hockfield said she was impressed by the city of Hong Kong.
“It’s a place of seemingly bounds of energy,” Hockfield said. “It’s clearly a city that is looking to the future.”
Hockfield said she will take international trips in the future, though as of yet she has no definite plans.