A group of George Washington University leaders spent last week in China, building ties and participating in discussions on trends in China and the future of global business in several meetings and at the 2013 Fortune Global Forum. GW was the sole education partner for the forum.
Alongside prominent leaders including Premier of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon, GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt and DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, the forum offered GW the unique opportunity to visit a new and increasingly important region of China and meet with several high-level business leaders who are current or potential stakeholders in GW’s endeavors.
During the forum, which took place from June 6-8 in Chengdu, Vice President for China Operations and School of Business Dean Doug Guthrie moderated a panel on the widening wealth gap, social needs and the state of charities and philanthropic sector in China. Panelists included Rupert Hoogewerf, publisher of the Hurun Report and Hurun Philanthropy List; Yao Ming, athlete, entrepreneur and philanthropist; and Wang Zhenyao, dean of the China Philanthropy Research Institute at Beijing Normal University.
Panelists emphasized the importance of youth volunteers, philanthropists seeing the impact of their giving, tax breaks and highly visible philanthropists like athletes setting an example for others to follow.
Ahead of the forum, President Steven Knapp, Provost Steven Lerman, Dr. Guthrie and Elliott School of International Affairs Dean Michael E. Brown participated in the 2013 Education Summit, “Education Creates Fortune and Future,” sponsored by the Nordic International Management Institute. The discussion explored the role of higher education in society, U.S.-China relations and opportunities for universities to have an impact on China.
“Even though we are so strongly based in Washington, D.C., we are at the same time a global university, and we take very seriously our responsibility to educate citizen leaders not only of the United States but of the world,” Dr. Knapp said in opening remarks. “Nowhere is our role as a global university clearer or more powerful than in our growing relationship with China.”
Dr. Knapp said the university recruits more students from China than any other nation outside of the United States, and an increasing number of GW students and alumni are studying and living in China.
Currently, GW has many relationships with Chinese universities, including Renmin University in Beijing and Fudan University in Shanghai. In 2012, GW launched a new relationship with Suzhou Industrial Park in Jiangsu, China, to lay the groundwork to offer advanced degrees to Chinese students. Dr. Knapp said the university wants to build on those, possibly exploring programs in health care, medicine, law and international affairs, and give more Chinese students the opportunity to live and learn in the nation’s capital.
“We look forward with excitement and eagerness to exploring what I know are many opportunities for collaboration between our university and the business and cultural communities here in Chengdu,” Dr. Knapp said.
In his remarks, Dr. Lerman emphasized the university’s goal of building strong relationships with a few key areas around the world, including China.
“Our strategy in China is and will continue to be building deep, enduring and mutually beneficial relationships with key institutions of universities, government, nonprofit and the business sector,” he said, adding the exchange of knowledge is one of the greatest benefits of these relationships.
Dr. Guthrie and Dr. Brown also spoke at the NIMI event. Dr. Guthrie highlighted GW students’ work in helping D.C. create its five-year economic plan to show the effect strong relationships can have in developing a community and bringing about economic change. Dr. Brown, meanwhile, gave an overview of U.S. foreign policy and national security policy toward the Asia-Pacific region and in particular toward China.
Also prior to the forum, the GW delegation visited the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.
Throughout the week, GW officials conducted numerous media interviews, highlighting for Chinese and international media outlets GW’s growing presence in China. Officials conducted interviews with more than a dozen outlets and received media coverage from nearly 20 local, national and international news outlets.
Dr. Knapp also spotlighted GW’s new Confucius Institute—the first to be established in Washington, D.C. The institute promotes the study of Chinese language and culture, supports Chinese teaching through instructional training and certification and enables prosperous growth of research on China studies. One of the institute’s goals is to offer Chinese language and culture classes to the District community.
Recently, Dr. Knapp was named to the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, the governing body of Confucius Institutes worldwide. One of 10 council members selected from more than 400 host institutions around the world, Dr. Knapp will begin his two-year term in December.
Also part of the China trip last week were Vice President for Research Leo Chalupa, Vice President for Human Resources Sabrina Ellis, School of Medicine and Health Sciences Dean Jeffrey S. Akman and Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Mike Morsberger.