The Pacific Agenda

In Hong Kong, alums pull off a handover of a different sort.

January/February 1998

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It's an ambitious goal: to create a two-year graduate fellowship for Pacific Rim students at Stanford modeled on Oxford's Rhodes Scholarships. The program is a pet project for President Gerhard Casper, who is eager to make Stanford the foremost university of the Asia-Pacific region.

To increase Stanford's profile in Asia, Casper has made seven transpacific trips in five years. His most recent-- a 10-day journey to Hong Kong, Thailand and India -- allowed him to speak to far-flung alumni and develop new academic and research collaborations. It also provided a big boost to the Asia/Pacific Scholars Program. At a dinner for graduates, the Hong Kong alumni association presented Casper with a $1 million check for the new venture.

"The Stanford Club undertook this drive to permanently endow one place in the program for a student from Hong Kong," says Chien Lee, '75, MS '75, MBA '79, a Hong Kong resident and the first international member of Stanford's Board of Trustees. Lee worked with Joyce Lee, '91, and Larry Franklin, '70, JD/MBA '76, 0n the Hong Kong campaign.

The Asia/Pacific Scholars Program is the cornerstone of Stanford's Pacific Rim outreach plans. Through it, Asia's future leaders will pursue their chosen fields while linking up with Asian-American and other Stanford students and faculty through interdisciplinary seminars on regional issues. Lee calls the program "an attractive networking opportunity."

So far, $10 million of a targeted $50 million endowment for the program has been secured, and a pilot group of 19 scholars arrived in September: five from mainland China, one each from Taiwan and Hong Kong, seven from other Asian countries and five from the United States. They represent academic fields from cancer research and environmental geochemistry to information technology and legal reform. Among them are a marathon runner, a bridge champion, a guitarist for an Indian rock band, a cook who studied at the Ritz in Paris and an Olympic swimmer.

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