Schwarzman College will break ground on the campus of Tsinghua University in Beijing later this month.
The College is the future site of the Schwarzman Scholars program, which President Richard Brodhead helps advise. Endowed by Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of private equity firm the Blackstone Group, Schwarzman College is set to have its first class of scholars in 2016. The program will accept 200 postgraduate students to pursue a one-year master’s degree.
“This is a time when deepening the ability of Americans and Chinese to understand each other is absolutely critical and education is the obvious route,” Brodhead said.
Schwarzman called upon Brodhead to become an advisor for the program because of their friendship and Duke’s global prestige.
“Duke is one of the best schools in the world. Duke people are logical people to be in touch with as potential participants,” Schwarzman said.
Brodhead attended Yale University with Schwarzman—the two graduating in 1968 and 1969 respectively. Several prestigious leaders, such as Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice, also serve on the board.
The mission of the program is primarily to educate young leaders about China and interactions with rest of the world.
Brodhead noted that this mission aligns with Duke’s goals for Duke Kunshan University.
“Given Duke’s particular project in Kunshan, I was pleased to be asked to serve on the Schwarzman board,” Brodhead said.
The college offers courses of study in public policy, economics, international relations and engineering.
In selecting the scholars, the program aims to pick future leaders in the fields of politics, business, academics, media and not-for-profits, Schwarzman noted. While in China, these scholars will travel and meet leaders and mentors from their field of interest.
Schwarzman has decided to invest in creating this scholarship because China is becoming the largest economy in the world with the largest number of people, he said.
“[Schwarzman] is a philanthropist who is very knowledgeable about the global economy and politics. He is passionate about creating this program in response to global trends he’d begun to see,” said Oriane Schwartzman, who works in public affairs for Blackstone.
Schwarzman said it is his hope that scholars who have completed the program will go back to their countries with an enhanced understanding of China as a nation and that they will work, from their field of expertise, to help change the attitudes in their own countries.
“It’s really essential for the top students from the U.S. and the world to have an understanding of the impact of China on the world,” Schwarzman said. “They need to be both appreciative and mindful of what China does.”
Schwartzman said that just as the Rhodes scholarship was founded to promote international understanding and peace among the preeminent political powers, Schwarzman Scholars aims for a similar goal, only with a more current twist.
“Schwarzman scholars is oriented toward the 21st century,” she said.