Penn is finally on its way to open a center in China — now set for January 2015.
Over the summer, the University completed all necessary registration with the Chinese government, including obtaining a business license, for the Penn China Center. The center was originally supposed to be ready for use early this year, but was delayed because of uncertainty in securing a location and donations.
The China Center has been an ongoing collaboration between President Amy Gutmann, Vice Provost Vincent Price and all 12 school deans for the past two years.
“Penn is deeply committed to its engagement in China,” Gutmann said in a press release. Penn has over 15,000 alumni in Asia, and in May, Gutmann travelled to Hong Kong to host an alumni event.
The current timeline for the project includes finding a permanent building for the center by the next month.
Managing Director of the China Center Jeffrey Bernstein added that the University is looking for a site that will include “some classrooms, study rooms, staff areas and a reception area,” among other things. Negotiation for a site is already in process.
The idea for the center came about in light of China’s growing economy and Penn’s growing presence in China.
“Penn is already doing a lot in China, but it has not been institutionalized,” Bernstein said. “True to Penn’s very cautious approach and concern about quality, we are taking a more deliberate approach.”
The center will provide many resources, including teaching students who study abroad, creating more internship and job opportunities, allowing professors to do more extensive research and helping to strengthen Penn’s brand in China.
“The center must be useful for our mission at Penn and Wharton,” Director of the Penn China Center John Zhang said. “It has to be something that can really reflect the value that we stand for and the brand name we have in China.”
Unlike other U.S. colleges, such as Duke University and New York University, Penn will not be offering a degree program in China, nor will it build a campus there.
“For Penn to offer a degree program in China, you do have to team up with someone else, and you lose control over your branding. You lose control over what you can teach and the kind of degree that those people will get,” Zhang said.
Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Ezekiel Emanuel stated that having global campuses is not something that the University wishes to pursue anywhere, and not just in China.
“We are in the education and research business,” Emanuel said. “Not in the real estate business.”
For now, Bernstein and Zhang continue to work with University officials to finalize and approve budget plans, find a permanent site and redesign it.
“We’ve been working on this for a long time to define what the center is like and why we need to go there,” Zhang said. “It’s a huge effort, especially when you do something in a totally different environment, but at this point, it looks like everything is falling into place.”
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