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HBS Alum Creates New Scholarship Program

October 25, 2013

When the first batch of Schwarzman Scholars arrive at Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2016, any Harvard students among them might find their residential life strikingly familiar.

Designs for Schwarzman College’s forum were modeled after the Harvard Kennedy School’s John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, and the program’s housing system is based off of the executive education residences at Harvard Business School.

Program Founder and Chairman and CEO of Blackstone Group Stephen A. Schwarzman, who himself graduated from the Business School in 1972, said that he envisions the program as comparable to the Rhodes Scholarship. Development for the scholarship started in 2010 and since then, Schwarzman has given $100 million of his own money to the program, which has also raised an additional $160 million in donations.

Schwarzman said that when the program opens its admissions in fall 2015, he hopes students like those at Harvard rank among its applicants.

“What we’re trying to do is take the best parts of Western education and bring them over to China so that a Harvard student would feel totally comfortable with the teaching style and the content at one of the world’s best universities,” said Schwarzman.

The groundbreaking for what will be Schwarzman Scholars’ campus took place Wednesday evening—the morning of Oct. 24 in China.

Two HBS professors, William C. Kirby and F. Warren McFarlan ’59, currently serve on the Academic Advisory Council of the program and are working on its design with education experts from around the world. Kirby, a former dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said that among the Schwarzman Scholars’many goals is the enhancement intercultural understanding, primarily between China and the Western world.

“The program offers students from Harvard and other American and international universities a unique opportunity for an intensive experience in one of the world’s most dynamic societies,” he wrote in an email.

Schwarzman described the program as relevant to Harvard students because they typically develop into leaders within their fields on both a national and global level.

“Those are the type of people that I think are important to interest in China,” he said. “The world that they are going to live in for the next 70 years of their lives is going to be dramatically impacted by what happens in China.”

According to Christine Anderson, a senior vice president at Blackstone, the scholarship hopes to draw 45 percent of its students from the United States, 20 percent from China, and the remaining 35 percent from other leading economies from around the world. Schwarzman College courses will be taught in English and spread across three disciplines: Economics and Business, International Relations, and Public Policy. The program plans to add Engineering in the future.

Anderson said that the extent of China and the United States’s relationship adds to the importance of the scholarship.

“If both nations don’t learn how to interact with each other there could be grave consequences and greater instability down the road,” said Anderson. “A lot of students who are going to be in business, politics or other fields will intuitively understand that they need to understand China better.”

—Staff Writer Indrani G. Das. can be reached at indrani.das@thecrimson.com. Follow her on twitter @IndraniGDas.