Faculty represent Yale in Beijing conference



Continuing Yale’s storied relationship with China as well as its history of participation in World Economic Forum events around the globe, three faculty members recently represented the University at a Beijing summit entitled “China’s Development: Balancing Fast and Smart Growth.”

School of Management Dean Jeffrey Garten, Law School Professor Paul Gewirtz and University Secretary Linda Lorimer served on panels from Sept. 12-13 on leadership, legal and economic reforms, and China’s relationship with the United States. Government officials and corporate executives from China, Japan and the United States also attended the conference.

“I think that this was a very significant event for Yale,” Garten said. “[Yale President Richard Levin] has been very actively building a relationship with the university in China. This particular forum was a really major event and there was very heavy Yale representation.”

Garten said Yale partnered with the WEF to sponsor a panel discussion concerning leadership techniques across different cultures and economic sectors on the first day of the summit.

“The idea of this workshop was to have a set of Yale alumni and faculty talk about different facets of leadership — government, business and nonprofits,” Lorimer said.

In addition to Garten, Lorimer and Gewirtz, two Yale alumni helped lead the discussion, Garten said. One, John Thornton SOM ’80, was president of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., and now serves as director of global leadership at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Lorimer said the other alumnus, Beijing resident Tom Melcher ’85, provided “an example of an entrepreneurial leader.”

Lorimer, who said her main role at the event was to assist Garten with the workshop, also participated in a discussion on the reform of state-owned enterprises.

In a panel considering the future of China’s economic relationship with the United States, Garten said he outlined potential difficulties the Chinese economy may encounter.

“I think that people are too overly optimistic about China’s prospects in the next several years,” he said. “They assume that because China has grown so fast and has been so successful over the last 10 years, it would be that way in the next 10. I was pointing to the fact that China has some huge problems.”

Unemployment, environmental issues and an unstable financial system were among the themes he mentioned.

Gewirtz, who could not be reached for comment, was a panelist in a discussion of property rights and legal reform.

Yale’s participation in the summit is only one of many recent initiatives that have raised Yale’s profile and strengthened its relationship with China, Garten said. For instance, he said leaders of major Chinese universities recently came to New Haven for a two-week management seminar.

“This was an important opportunity for the School of Management to be prominent with this set of emerging leaders,” Lorimer said.

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