Chinese plan landmark visit

In the first program of its kind outside of China, senior Chinese university officials will travel to Yale to participate in a training conference on the structure and administration of the world’s foremost universities, Chinese Minister of Education Zhou Ji announced Tuesday.

Yale and the Chinese government will co-sponsor the University Leadership Program, which will take place on campus during the last two weeks of August. The program will bring together the top four administrators from each of seven leading Chinese universities. Over the course of the program, these administrators will learn about the best practices of university administration, University Secretary Linda Lorimer said.

Deputy Provost Chip Long said the program will cover topics including ways in which universities recruit faculty, raise funds, invest money and build alumni bases.

Last summer, representatives of Fudan University visited Yale for a “successful” pilot of this summer’s program, Levin said.

Zhou said in a press release that the Chinese government is “committed to bringing its major universities to world-class status.”

“Yale University, with its global reputation and its long association with China, was the obvious partner,” he said in the press release. “It will be important for our educational leaders to examine and study how Yale and others of the world’s foremost universities are structured and administered.”

Levin said in the press release that he is “deeply honored to have been selected.”

“The large investment by the Chinese government in its system of higher education is both remarkable and inspiring,” Levin said in the statement. “This is an important opportunity for Yale to deepen our connection to China.”

While Levin said the conference will not directly impact current Yale students, Lorimer said the program will reinforce connections between Yale and Chinese universities, creating opportunities for University students to participate in international programs.

“We hope this program will knit the top seven universities in China close to Yale and provide a firmer foundation for projects abroad, which can involve students in many ways,” Lorimer said.

Levin’s view of universities as “engines of economic development” is of particular interest to the Chinese, Long said.

Over spring break, Lorimer and Long travelled to China to discuss the goals and agenda of the program. Lorimer and Long said they will involve Yale faculty and ask for assistance from staff in teaching program participants.

While Lorimer said this program has been 150 years in the making — the first Chinese student, Yung Wing, graduated from Yale in 1854 — more specific talks about the collaboration began in during a November University trip to China when China State Councilor Chen Zhili presented the idea to Yale officials.

“The leadership of China recognizes the long historical ties that Yale has with China,” Lorimer said.

A century and a half after Yung’s graduation, Chinese students and scholars represent the largest delegation from any country on the Yale campus, Lorimer said.

Levin said the University currently has more than 50 different collaborative projects underway in 16 cities in China.

Levin has made numerous trips to China over the past 10 years. During his visits, he is a frequent guest on Chinese news talk shows and was selected as the “Man of the Year” in 2003 by the readers of Shanghai Education magazine.

“Levin made a really strong and enthusiastic impression when he went [to China] last year,” Long said.

Lorimer said she hopes this program will help draw even more students and faculty from China.

“We’re delighted that Yale is the destination of choice for China’s leading students, but we hope the program will make Yale more prominent in the minds of Chinese students,” Lorimer said.

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