A jaunt through three Asian countries in one week, with parties and receptions galore. It sounds like a vacation — but not for University President Richard Levin, who will speak to international gatherings, meet with the heads of some of the most prestigious universities in Asia and receive two honorary degrees before the end of this week.
During stops in Korea, Japan and China, Levin, Vice President and University Secretary Linda Lorimer and seven other faculty members hope to forge stronger relationships with the Asian academic community. Their itinerary includes meetings, appearances at the World Knowledge Forum and receptions for Yale alumni and friends, said George Joseph, assistant secretary for international affairs.
The trip is part of an ongoing effort by Levin to increase Yale’s visibility in the region — already high in China, but strengthening in Korea and Japan as well, Levin said.
“We want Yale to be highly visible and well regarded in Asia, so that we can attract our share of its outstanding students and so that we can create excellent exchange opportunities for our students, and so that we can partake of the abundant opportunities for productive research collaborations,” Levin said in an e-mail message from Korea.
Anecdotes from Korea indicate that this goal has met with success so far — Wednesday morning, Levin received a full page of coverage from most major Korean newspapers and was featured on the evening news this week, Phillip Ham ’86, treasurer for the Yale Club of Korea, said in a telephone interview.
Levin’s first engagement with Asian academic officials was in Seoul, where he attended the Seoul National University’s President’s Summit. At SNU, Levin and President Lee Jang-Moo of SNU signed a letter of intent to collaborate on their Asian studies programs and discussed the university’s work in environmental studies. SNU and Yale have had an exchange partnership since 2004. Meanwhile, Lorimer met with representatives from the Korea University, Yonsei University and Ewha Women’s University.
In a telephone interview from Seoul, Joseph described Lorimer’s meetings as more “exploratory,” though he said all of the meetings are trying to assess mutual interest.
School of Management professors Barry Nalebuff and James Baron have been visiting Korea’s business schools and research institutions, Nalebuff said in an e-mail message from Korea.
Levin also met with leaders of corporations in Korea to talk about fundraising and raise awareness about SOM programs.
Some corporations in Asia “perceive a public relations benefit by sponsoring scholarships and faculty exchanges from involving their home countries and schools like Yale,” Levin said. “Others are looking for connections to Yale faculty as speakers or research partners.”
The Yale delegation will arrive Wednesday in Tokyo, where Levin will receive two honorary degrees — one from Waseda University on Thursday at their Yale Day and from the University of Tokyo on Friday. Both institutions have had relationships with Yale that extend for more than a century, Joseph said.
Another goal of the trip is to reach out to alumni in various countries, Joseph said. On Monday night the Yale group attended a dinner hosted by the Yale Club of Korea at the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, which Nalebuff called “stunning.” There will be an event at the Yale Club of Japan on Thursday evening.
The group’s time in Korea will conclude today with Levin’s address at the World Knowledge Forum, the largest Asian gathering of world leaders in business and government to discuss international issues.
Approximately 1,200 people are expected to attend Levin’s speech, entitled “Collaboration in the Shifting Knowledge Economy,” which will be broadcast on Korean television.
“People do want to hear his opinion about the kind of changes that are happening,” Joseph said of Levin.
Lorimer will also be speaking at a session Wednesday on leveraging women leadership and talent, while Nalebuff will be giving a talk on “collabonomics,” an approach to how people can compete and collaborate in business.
The trip is not Levin’s only foreign excursion this semester. Next month, he is slated to travel to India, too.