Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gift of $50 million to create Greenberg Yale-China Initiative

September 29, 2006

Maurice R. ("Hank") Greenberg, through his family ,foundation, and The Starr Foundation are each donating $25 million to Yale to create the Maurice R. Greenberg Yale-China Initiative, advancing the University's collaborations with China in critical areas, President Richard C. Levin announced.

"We are pleased that the strong connections Yale has forged with China have given Hank Greenberg and The Starr Foundation confidence that the University will be a continuing force for positive intellectual, social and economic change in China and around the world," Levin said. "Hank Greenberg's own involvement as a business pioneer in China exemplifies the value of actively engaging that nation's people and institutions."

Maurice R. Greenberg, the retired chair and chief executive officer (CEO) of American International Group Inc. (AIG), is now the chair and CEO of C.V. Starr & Company. Greenberg built AIG into the largest insurance company in the world. He is the former chair of the Asia Society and is honorary vice chair and director of the Council on Foreign Relations. The Greenberg Foundation focuses on education, medical research and human need. (See related story.)

As chair of The Starr Foundation, Greenberg oversees the foundation's financial support of educational, medical, cultural, social welfare and public policy institutions.

The Starr Foundation was established in 1955 by Cornelius Vander Starr. A pioneer of globalization, Starr set up his first insurance venture in Shanghai in 1919. He died in 1968 at the age of 76, leaving his estate to the foundation.

The Starr Foundation, with assets today of approximately $3.5 billion, has donated in excess of $2 billion -- more than $1 billion in New York City alone -- making it one of the largest private foundations in the United States. In keeping with Starr's wishes, the foundation supports education, cultural institutions, medicine and healthcare, human needs, public policy and the environment.

The Maurice R. Greenberg Yale-China Initiative will support three major aspects of Yale's international outreach in China and around the world:

Greenberg Scholars

Yale has long opened its doors to international students and scholars, both to have a role in educating the leaders of other nations and to give U.S. students the opportunity to develop ties and understanding across a range of national cultures. Yale is also committed to sending its students abroad as an important complement to their academic studies on campus. As its relations with China have deepened, the University has been able to offer many of its students the opportunity to study, work, serve internships, or conduct research in China and has invited students from China to pursue their undergraduate studies here. Many Chinese students at Yale and Yale students in China will now be supported as Greenberg Scholars, allowing Yale to meet their financial needs fully. The flow of students across borders will create greater mutual understanding and deeper appreciation for distinctive elements of Chinese and Western cultures.

The World Fellows Program

Now in its fourth year, Yale's World Fellows Program brings 16 to 18 emerging leaders from diverse cultures and countries, including China, to Yale each year for a concentrated 13-week program of seminars, individualized research and study projects, and leadership training. Thanks in large part to the previous generosity of The Starr Foundation, the World Fellows Program has begun to fulfill some of its most crucial long-term goals: contributing to the professional development of rising leaders and creating a network of them. Graduates of the program's earlier classes include a presidential candidate in Uganda, the chief of staff to the president of Germany, a member of Parliament in South Africa, and a member of the Privy Council in Canada. The new support from Greenberg and The Starr Foundation will further strengthen the World Fellows Program.

The Greenberg International Conference Center at Yale

In recent years Yale has expanded its educational mission to include numerous programs for established and emerging leaders from China and elsewhere. Among these are programs for senior government officials, university presidents and their teams, and the leaders of state-owned enterprises. The Maurice R. Greenberg Yale-China Initiative will support the construction of a new conference center for the further expansion of international executive education. The Maurice R. Greenberg International Conference Center will enhance Yale's efforts to collaborate with leading Chinese universities and institutions.

Greenberg: 'Flexibility' will
be key Yale asset in China

Maurice R. ("Hank") Greenberg, through his family foundation, has joined with The Starr Foundation to present $50 million to Yale to support its initiatives in China and around the world. (See related story.)

During a recent visit to campus, Greenberg spoke about Yale-China relations with Helaine Klasky, director of the Office of Public Affairs and special assistant to the Yale president. The following is an edited transcript of their discussion.

Regarding Yale and China, what are your thoughts generally as well as on the specific programs Yale is pursuing? And would you offer some ideas about what else Yale should be doing?

Yale's role in China goes back many, many years, and I think the multiplicity of things that Yale is doing -- focusing on issues that China is concerned about, from scientific research to the Law School -- are important. I think it is the confidence and trust China has with Yale that obviously is critical. Yale has earned that respect and that confidence.

What more can Yale do? There is always a need to be flexible because China is an evolving country economically and politically. There will be new things coming up all the time. Being capable of putting something together quickly to help meet those needs will be very valuable to China and to Yale. I think that each generation of leaders in China views things through different lenses. It is very important that [Chinese President] Hu Jintao came here. I think it signals their continued respect for Yale and what it is doing and has done, and that they can look to Yale in the future for new collaborations that are needed.

Based on your experience, what guidance would you offer to Yale and President Levin regarding China?

I think that Rick Levin has done a great job in this area. He obviously had the wisdom to promote these various programs with China. Rather than focusing on one school in China, having Yale undertake a multiplicity of relationships in China was very wise. I think it is very important for Yale to be doing more of the same, as it recognizes the needs that China will have as it evolves.

Of course, other very good schools are working with China as well.

Yes, there is MIT and Harvard with a joint venture at Xinhua University. I serve on that advisory board. But that is very narrow; they are just teaching graduate students about business. I think that what Yale is doing, the breadth of what it is doing, is much better. It will benefit the University.

China is going to focus more on a new five-year plan on education. Everybody is not going to go to Xinhua University or Beijing University or Fudan; there will be more students trying to come here. By educating more Chinese students at Yale, who then go back to China, we are planting a lot of great seeds from what they are learning from us. We are not going to change China by preaching from outside. It can only change from within. Many of these young people will go into government, some will go into business, some will go into science -- whatever -- but it will be a growing influence.

Do you think that most Chinese students who are coming here for undergraduate or graduate school education are going back to their own country?

Yes. I think some will stay here for two or three or four years and then go back. The opportunities in China are just so tremendous.

Yale is obviously focusing on institutions in Beijing and Shanghai, and some have said: "Why aren't you doing more in Hong Kong or other areas of China?" What do you think of this?

You can't do everything; you have to be selective.

Still others have criticized that Yale is putting all of its eggs into one basket -- that while we speak about being a global university, we are really most focused on China and are dabbling in a few other places. In particular, people think we should be focusing more on India.

Well, maybe not more, but you have to have a presence in India. There is no question that India is making great strides. India's economy is doing much better. They have got some very good technical schools in India that would challenge MIT. You have to have your foot in the camp, but how many things can you do? You know, you've got the question of something called money.

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