Inaugurated in October 2014 by University President Peter Salovey, Yale Center Beijing — the University’s physical mainstay in China — has now been in full operation for a year.
In an effort to bridge University interests in Asia and enhance Yale’s global presence, YCB serves four primary functions: sponsoring events; providing a space for Yale entities to hold workshops, symposia and training sessions in China; creating a platform for admissions and recruitment; and renting out space to Yale alumni and friends of the University. From its glass-walled office space on the 36th floor of the IFC Building in Beijing’s Central Business District, YCB hosted several speaker series and student-organized activities this year, and the center will host seven Yale deans this fall. As the center marks its one-year anniversary, YCB visitors and staffers alike hope to see more Yale affiliates utilizing the space and increasing awareness about YCB on Yale’s New Haven campus.
“I’m happy about how the first year went, and hopeful that we will do better in the next,” said Carol Li Rafferty ’00, YCB’s managing director stationed in Beijing. “We are by far the most active foreign university in China, with more than 100 events and programs held during its first year since last November.”
Dan Murphy, YCB’s program director in New Haven, said YCB has already welcomed U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus, outgoing Yale School of Architecture Dean Robert Stern and e-commerce tycoon Richard Liu. This fall, Yale affiliates such as Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan, School of Management Dean Edward Snyder and Yale Divinity School Dean Gregory Sterling will speak at YCB, Murphy added.
Snyder said he is pleased with the progress he has seen the center make thus far, adding that he supports the University’s decision to establish a center in Beijing. Snyder cited a strong advisory board and staff for the center’s success, adding that his Yale colleagues in Beijing have made a lot of progress in broadcasting the center’s existence on campus.
“From my conversations around campus, faculty, students and staff are becoming more familiar with YCB [and] the great Yale colleagues there,” Snyder said. “So we’ve made a lot of progress.”
Rafferty said the center’s central location has helped YCB become an intellectual hub for leaders in business, politics, nonprofits, media and academia. Events at the center have cultivated a more active alumni pool in China, Rafferty added, estimating that the number of active alumni in Beijing grew from around 30 to more than 100 since the center’s founding.
“The center’s aim is really to get scholars to communicate with each other, and I think it’s doing a great job,” said Serene Li ’17, whose a cappella group Living Water performed at YCB over the summer. Li added that the center is a versatile place that can be used for more than academic pursuits and that YCB’s staff was very welcoming. A native of Beijing, Li said that as a Yale student, she was able to use one of the center’s study rooms during the summer. Linshu Li GRD ’19, an applied physics Ph.D. candidate who organized an entrepreneurship forum at the center in August, said YCB made community outreach in China more convenient. Surprised by the number of Yale entrepreneurs in China, Linshu Li added that the center functioned as a hub for Yale alumni.
Still, Li commented that it is too early to assess YCB’s overall impact on Yale-China relations, as the center is still in the process of building a robust community in China and Asia more broadly. Li, however, was confident about YCB’s future, adding that the center is already doing better than many of its counterparts.
Moving forward, the center will actively try to bring more resources from Yale’s schools and associated entities to China, Rafferty said.
“This is your center — this is your home in China,” Murphy said. “We want this [center] to be a space for the Yale family.”
According to its website, YCB has four offices for visiting faculty.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly paraphrased School of Management Dean Edward Snyder in stating that the center is run by a strong advisory board that includes the center’s three major donors. In fact, the center is run by a full-time staff and not by its advisory board, which serves only advisory functions.