Chinese realtor endows Harvard

Updated: 2013-12-04 09:39

By Yu Wei in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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Offering no dollar amount, Harvard University announced on Monday that it has received "university-wide, interdisciplinary support" from Guangzhou-based Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd.

The gift from Evergrande will help fund three Harvard University initiatives: the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Evergrande Center for Immunologic Diseases at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Center for Mathematical Sciences and Applications in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, according to the university.

"Evergrande's wide-ranging support will enable progress across the university," said Harvard president Drew Faust in a press release.

"Explorations of mathematics and new applications of computational power have the potential to shape a variety of fields and disciplines," Faust said. "Innovations in green building and sustainable development will influence how we live, and advances in human health will improve and extend lives. Harvard is fortunate to have been entrusted with this important work for humankind."

Xu Jiayin, chairman of Evergrande Group and, according to this year's Forbes China Rich List, China's 13th richest man, said the three centers will promote top scientific research and development in related fields.

"I believe in their unlimited potential, which will give impetus to the improvement of the world's academic level and the progress and development of human society," Xu said.

The final signing ceremony between the two came after weeks of preparation. In October, a delegation led by Xu visited Harvard and met officials from the university, including president Faust. The two sides had in-depth discussions on building green residences and reached a consensus on cooperation.

Building green residences by scientific innovation is one of Evergrande's future strategies.

According to Harvard, the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities will allow the Graduate School of Design to launch intensive research and education programs aimed at creating sustainable, high-performance buildings. The focus will be on better design, construction, and operation — especially in urban environments.

Evergrande will support programs, facilities, and a research endowment.

Harvard and Evergrande's bilateral collaboration marked as the first cooperation between a Chinese enterprise and specific departments at Harvard University.

In recent years, American universities have been racing to build stronger connections with China. New York University and Duke University are both establishing campuses in China. Stanford University opened a multimillion-dollar center at Peking University. UC-Berkeley College of Engineering opened an R&D center in Shanghai Zhangjiang High-Tech Park.

Meanwhile, Chinese enterprises are actively developing relationships with American universities. Wanxiang Group launched an Ambassador Fellows program with Chicago University in an effort to support the Obama Administration's 100,000 Strong Initiative. China Triumph International Engineering Co has signed a joint design cooperation agreement with New Jersey Institute of Technology.

"All of these collaborative initiatives are greatly welcomed," said Nicholas Hope, director of the Stanford Center for International Development. "I'm particularly encouraged by emerging cooperation in research activities between China and the US — indeed, we would very much welcome a similar engagement from China in my Center at Stanford."

"But from a much broader perspective, all activities that build mutually beneficial relations between the two countries help to nurture a healthy economic interdependence that will be of benefit to the US, China and the whole global economy," Hope said.

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