spacer spacer spacer
yalealumnimagazine.com   about the Yale Alumni Magazine   classified & display advertising   back issues 1992-present   our blogs   The Yale Classifieds   yam@yale.edu   support us


The Yale Alumni Magazine is owned and operated by Yale Alumni Publications, Inc., a nonprofit corporation independent of Yale University.

The content of the magazine and its website is the responsibility of the editors and does not necessarily reflect the views of Yale or its officers.


Worldly Ambitions

Y: Recently the head of a research institute in India told the Chronicle of Higher Education he gets delegations every month from U.S. universities looking for international partnerships. You’ve been focusing on raising Yale’s international profile, but there’s a lot of competition now. How does Yale measure up?

L: Harvard has a very strong reputation worldwide, particularly in developing countries, since they have so many training and executive programs in their business school. They cycle thousands of people through every year. But our efforts in the last seven or eight years have really helped Yale’s international image, and, relative to the major U.S. universities, we’ve been widely acknowledged as the most active and visible on the international front. We are the only one of our peers to have articulated a coherent strategy for our international efforts, in a framework document we issued in 2005 entitled The Internationalization of Yale. It’s on the Web [http://world.yale.edu].


Every Chinese schoolchild learns about Yale.

The framework identifies three overarching goals. The first is to create opportunities for overseas engagement for Yale students and faculty. The second is to attract the very best international talent to Yale. When talented students think of the two or three great American universities they might be interested in, we want to be one of them. And the third is to invest selectively in programs of consequence that will have an impact on the world and enhance Yale’s reputation.

Y: How do you measure success?

L: We haven’t set specific targets. But, for example, I think we’ve succeeded so far in China. Yale’s reputation in China is remarkable. It’s partly the consequence of our long history there. Every Chinese schoolchild learns about Yale, because the first Chinese to go abroad for an education went to Yale. Then we had the Yale-China Association, going back to 1901. Now we have major partnerships in science with Peking and Fudan universities, where there are research buildings with Yale’s name. We have the China Law Center, working on legal reform. We hold workshops every year with the leading universities on university administration. We have well over one hundred students a year studying in China as Light Fellows or Greenberg Scholars, or participating in Bulldog internship programs in Beijing and Hong Kong. We have a new program at Peking University for Yale and Peking undergraduates to live and study together. Put that all together and it is a very impressive footprint.

Y: Yale is looking at taking part in the international arts district being built in Abu Dhabi. But I hear that, unlike the Louvre, Yale has no plans to put up any buildings.

L: Not yet. If we come to an agreement, which we hope to do by this summer, the initial phase of collaboration would involve our music, architecture, and drama schools in assisting Abu Dhabi’s cultural development efforts and offering some education and outreach programs. I don’t want to get into the details at this stage, but it has been a very interesting exploration.

Y: But there are downsides. You’re working with governments that have human rights policies very much at odds with those of the U.S.

L: We spend a lot of time thinking about this. We’ve talked to faculty, sought the counsel of alumni who know the region, and interacted frequently with the U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, a woman whose understanding of the region is very impressive. If we want to engage in many parts of the world, we have to participate in countries where we may not necessarily agree with all their policies. If we don’t give our students an opportunity to go to the Middle East and if we don’t have connections in the Middle East, we are denying ourselves something important. Most of the people we consulted said the UAE is the most hospitable country and, in terms of actual practices—as opposed to laws—the most tolerant. Women get university educations. There are women in leadership positions in the government. We have assurances that if we do anything educational, men and women will be involved side by side. There are deep concerns about imported labor under conditions that we would not tolerate in this country. If we were to ever build a facility there we would insist on appropriate labor conditions.


We are a constructive force within China.

You could make similar arguments about China. China’s human rights policies have come in, appropriately, for much criticism. But we think that greater American engagement with China is important. And we are a constructive force within China. Our China Law Center has assisted in efforts to strengthen the rights of individuals against the state, helped to introduce regularity and predictability to administrative law, and begun to work on criminal law. Their efforts to strengthen the rights of individuals and the rule of law are important steps in China’s evolution.

Y: When President Hu of China spoke at Yale last year, there were loud protests on the Green, and protesters lined the roads where Hu’s motorcade traveled. How did you feel about that?

L: We made clear to the Chinese that we were going to let protests occur. We weren’t going to change the rules of conduct in the United States. There were people on the streets with pro-Hu banners and there were human rights protesters, and we had no problems with it. It was very civil and appropriate, a very healthy example of free expression in a democratic society.  the end


©1992–2012, Yale Alumni Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Yale Alumni Magazine, P.O. Box 1905, New Haven, CT 06509-1905, USA. yam@yale.edu