Chinese Alumni Pledge $1 Million
Brown makes first trip to Beijing as president| From Commonwealth | By Caleb Daniloff
At the ceremony launching the Boston University Alumni Association of China, BUAAC president Hugo Shong (COM'87, GRS'92) and BU President Robert A. Brown exchange signed copies of the alumni group's $1 million pledge.
Until the late 1970s, China's communist regime allowed very few students to attend foreign universities and colleges each year. Times have changed. In fall 2007, some 650 students from China were enrolled at BU, the largest bloc of the University's almost 5,000 international students. And this winter, the newly formed Boston University Alumni Association of China (BUAAC) held its first meeting, and in a powerful statement of connection and loyalty, pledged $1 million to the University. It is the first such collective gift of this size in BU's history.
President Robert A. Brown, in his first visit to China as head of the University, celebrated the gift at the Beijing networking event in January that served as the BUAAC's launch ceremony. Dubbed BU Meets China: An Alumni Celebration and Global Investment Forum, the gathering was the first worldwide business event for the entire BU alumni community. It drew hundreds of alumni from eleven countries, mainly in Asia.
Brown, who gave the keynote address and presented the BUAAC with an official banner, says he's "excited by the commitment and leadership of our alumni in China who chose to launch the formal presence of Boston University in China with such a bang. Their energy is symbolic of the entrepreneurism that exists there today."
The driving force behind both the BUAAC and the global investment forum is Hugo Shong (COM'87, GRS'92), president of IDG China, chairman of China Venture Capital Association, and a University trustee.
"There are almost 600 BU alumni working in China and doing quite well in their fields and in terms of wealth," says Shong, BUAAC president. "So I came up with this idea to make a pledge of $1 million in five years. Everyone was very excited. We thought it would be a good gift to Bob and to BU, because we all got a lot of benefit from our education at Boston University."
Steve Karbank (CAS'79), president of the BU Alumni Council, describes the Beijing event as electric. "Many alumni stood and talked about the impact that BU had on them, which, in many cases, was deeply moving," he recalls.
"The money is for Bob's disposal," Shong says. "The only requirement is that it must be China-related – for programs related to China, or to sponsor scholars from China, or to send BU scholars to do fieldwork in China. We don't know what kind of challenges exist or what areas Bob wants BU to improve regarding its China program."
The University has two exchange programs with China – at Beijing's Tsinghua University and at Fudan University in Shanghai – and recently signed an agreement with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing for a faculty exchange. An intensive summer language program at the Beijing Institute of Education is also offered.