Schwarzman Scholars Marks Official Start, Welcoming Leaders Past, Present, and Future to Schwarzman College for Convocation

September 9, 2016

Single Biggest Philanthropic Effort in Chinese History with Over $430 Million Raised Largely from International Donors

New York and Beijing, September 10, 2016. Groundbreaking leadership program Schwarzman Scholars today holds the official convocation ceremony to welcome its inaugural class of 110 scholars and celebrate the opening of the newly-constructed Schwarzman College on the campus of Tsinghua University, widely regarded as one of China’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning. At the event, the highly selective program announced that it has raised a record $435 million, making it the single largest internationally-funded philanthropic effort in China’s history, and unveiled a new partnership with the Oxford University-based Rhodes Trust, which administers the Rhodes Scholarship, to co-develop a next generation leadership experience. With an ultimate goal of more than $450 million, Schwarzman Scholars will be endowed in perpetuity and will support up to 200 scholars annually.

Three years ago, Blackstone founder and American philanthropist Stephen A. Schwarzman announced a $100 million personal gift and an accompanying fundraising campaign to build and endow Schwarzman Scholars, a highly-selective international scholarship program at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, Schwarzman Scholars is designed to educate future world leaders about China and to prepare them to confront the most difficult challenges of the coming century. Each year, up to 200 scholars from around the world will complete coursework for a one-year Master’s degree in Global Affairs at Schwarzman College, a state-of-the-art academic and residential building dedicated to the program. Announced at China’s Great Hall of the People in 2013, the program received messages of support then and again today from Chinese President Xi Jinping, U.S. President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong, and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

In remarks delivered at the formal convocation commemorating the program’s official start, Stephen A. Schwarzman commented: “A win-win relationship of mutual respect and understanding between China and the West is vital to continued global peace and prosperity. These scholars, and those who follow, will play an important role in fostering friendship, cooperation, and collaboration in our increasingly interconnected and constantly shrinking world.”

Congratulatory messages were sent from other distinguished leaders around the world such as First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former United States President George W. Bush, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic.

In a video message to the Scholars, Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States said, “Congratulations to the very first class of Schwarzman Scholars. You all are so incredibly talented and accomplished and I am so proud of each and every one of you. I also want to congratulate Steve Schwarzman and Tsinghua University along with everyone whose vision and tireless efforts made this program a reality. We know that the challenges of the coming century will require each of us, and especially our future leaders, to put aside our differences, reach across borders and face our common challenges with a common resolve. With the education and experience that you all get as Schwarzman Scholars, I know that you’ll be more than ready to meet this moment.”

“I think this is one of the most ambitious and important examples of international education and collaboration that has ever been designed,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in a video message to the Schwarzman Scholars. “By increasing your own personal engagement with another country, your knowledge of a language, your knowledge of a culture, and your understanding of a country and its culture, you’re going to be able to make contributions that I can’t even begin to define today.”

“President Obama and President Xi have committed themselves to the proposition that peace and progress of the world depend on close cooperation between China and the United States,” said Henry Kissinger, 56th United States Secretary of State, in his video message. “The Schwarzman Scholars program will make an important contribution to this vision.”

“This program’s focus on promoting dialogue between young people around the world is crucial to create a more peaceful future for our global community,” said Kofi Annan, 7th Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his video message. “Over the next year, you will have the chance to develop the skills and outlook required to address the pressing challenges facing our interdependent and interconnected world. Your interactions with classmates, business leaders, and public officials will instill the characteristics needed to be leaders in the 21st century.”

Attendees at today’s convocation at Schwarzman College include high-level global and Chinese leaders. Madame Liu Yandong, Vice Premier of China, Max Baucus, the United States Ambassador to China, and Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia are featured speakers.

The convocation marks the opening of Schwarzman College, the program’s dedicated state-of-the-art academic and residential building, which was designed by the world-renowned firm Robert A.M. Stern Architects and is one of the most advanced higher-education facilities in the world. The building houses a central forum modeled after Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where scholars will engage with speakers and performers. In addition to student suites and classrooms, it also houses an International Conference Center, the Dalio Auditorium, common areas, a library, dining hall, pub, and gym. The building is also one of the first LEED Gold-certified academic buildings in China. To view a virtual tour of Schwarzman College, please visit

Schwarzman Scholars has raised $435 million with the help of largely international donors. Due to this widespread international support and recognition, the endowment’s fundraising target was recently increased to more than $450 million to allow the program to better execute its mission and match the capabilities of the world’s best-funded scholarship programs.

“I am extremely grateful to our donors, without whom this program would not be possible. Their generous gifts have helped us build a world-class program to ensure that we can support a new class of talented scholars each year in perpetuity. While we still have a ways to go, we would not be welcoming our inaugural class of scholars today without our generous donors from around the world,” said Founding Trustee Stephen A. Schwarzman.

Qiu Yong, President of Tsinghua University says, “The Schwarzman College’s mission is to cultivate future leaders with a global vision and a commitment to advancing human civilization. I encourage the Schwarzman Scholars to channel their energies into building a virtuous character, laying the foundation for a prosperous life, and becoming veritable members of Tsinghua University.”

The program announced several new donors that join the ranks of BP, Dalio Foundation, Anbang Insurance Group, Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation, Delta Airlines, EMC Corporation, Glencore, Masa Son, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, The Boeing Company, Robert Bosch GmbH, China Resources (Holdings) Company Limited, Citi, Feng Deng, GE, The Walt Disney Company and others. New donors include: an enhanced gift from Dalio Foundation, HNA, Chanchai Ruayrungruang, China Oceanwide Holdings Group, Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd., Tingyi Holding Corp., The PepsiCo Foundation, Volkswagen (China) Investment Co., Ltd., W. Hall Wendel, Jr., Econet Foundation, Suning Commerce Group Co., Ltd., The Varkey Foundation, Zhang Yang, Toread, GLP/Jeffrey H. Schwartz, The Guffey Family, The Whitney Family, and Leo Ding (Founder of SCPG).

Bob Dudley, Chief Executive of BP says, “With over 40 years of history in China, BP is privileged to be associated with the establishment of the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University. We believe that close partnerships between business and academia can have a significant and enduring impact on the progressive development of society inside and outside of China. Through this cornerstone sponsorship, BP is honored to play a part in cultivating future global leaders while strengthening international relations and understanding.”

Today’s announcement accompanies the unveiling of an innovative new partnership between Schwarzman Scholars and the Rhodes Trust. The two programs will co-develop a best-in-class post-graduate leadership experience, which will include co-taught classes, symposiums, exchanges, and other interactive elements.

“The Rhodes Trust is pleased to launch a partnership with Schwarzman Scholars to co-develop a cutting-edge leadership experience that will impact the trajectories of future leaders,” says Charles Conn, CEO of the Rhodes Trust. “Both scholarship programs share a mutual belief that developing the problem solving skills and leadership knowledge of highly talented and motivated young men and women will be meaningful as the world faces increasing challenges in the years to come.”

To jumpstart these efforts, Sir John Hood, Chair of the Rhodes Trust, and Stephen Schwarzman led a conversation in Schwarzman College’s auditorium on the urgency of strengthening ties between the future leaders of China and the rest of the world. Another panel featured Tsinghua University President Qiu, Yale University President Salovey, the University of Cambridge’s Vice-Chancellor Borysiewicz, Schwarzman Scholars Executive Director Sir Nigel Thrift, and Chou Ji, Former Chinese Minister of Education.

Schwarzman Scholars Dean David Daokui Li then spoke directly to the Schwarzman Scholars, emphasizing that they are truly exceptional and that as the pioneering class they have already started shaping the DNA of the College, particularly in regards to the guiding principles of Schwarzman Scholars: understanding, cooperation, and leadership.

The program’s inaugural class of 110 Scholars was selected through a rigorous application process designed to evaluate proven intellectual and academic ability, as well as leadership potential, strength of character, ability to anticipate emerging trends, and desire to understand other cultures, perspectives, and positions. More than 3,000 applications were first reviewed by a distinguished team of readers from around the world, with 300 semi-finalists invited for in-person interviews in Beijing, Bangkok, London, and New York before international panels composed of CEOs, former heads of state, university presidents, non-profit executives, journalists, and other leaders. This distinguished group of interviewers was responsible for selecting the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars. Of the 3.7% of applicants offered acceptance into the program 95% will join the class, representing a higher acceptance yield than the most competitive U.S. business and law schools. Schwarzman Scholars is now accepting applications for its second class of scholars, set to enroll in August 2017. If you want to apply to Schwarzman Scholars, click here.

Sir Nigel Thrift, Executive Director of Schwarzman Scholars says, “Schwarzman Scholars brings the brightest and the best young people the world has to offer to Tsinghua’s doorstep. Now that they are here, we know that they are even brighter and even better than we had imagined. As we start the semester, we can already tell that they are going to make an extraordinary contribution to the future. I want to thank all of the people who have worked to make this day possible. We will repay your trust with interest.”

Schwarzman Scholars counts among its first class a truly exemplary group of individuals from the most prestigious graduate and undergraduate academic institutions in the world. Included among them is a former Commander of a Special Operations Forces team who served on classified missions in Iraq and has also completed more than 25 elite athletic competitions, the producer and star of “Guy Dances Across China in 100 Days” – which garnered 750,000 YouTube views and was featured on Good Morning America, a Chemical Engineering student at MIT who was published in the Chemistry-Euro Journal, a serial entrepreneur who founded two California-based start-ups and is working on her third, the inventor of a commercial-grade solar oven capable of baking 300 loaves of bread in two hours which was featured in The Huffington Post as one of the “11 Simple Inventions That Could Change The World,” among many others.

Schwarzman Scholars thanks its world-class Honorary Advisory Board including: Nicolas Sarkozy, Former President of the French Republic, Anthony “Tony” Blair, Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Brian Mulroney, Former Prime Minister of Canada, Kevin Rudd, Former Prime Minister of Australia, Henry Kissinger, 56th United States Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, 66th United States Secretary of State, Henry “Hank” Paulson, Jr. 74th United States Secretary of the Treasury, and Yo-Yo Ma, the renowned American cellist. Additionally, Schwarzman Scholars has an Academic Advisory Council made up of leaders from top universities including Yale University, Harvard University, Duke University, Stanford University, University of Oxford, and many others.

About Schwarzman Scholars:
Schwarzman Scholars was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, which was founded in 1902 to promote international understanding and peace, and is designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. Blackstone Co-Founder Stephen A. Schwarzman personally contributed $100 million to the program and is leading a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $350 million from private sources to endow the program in perpetuity. The $450 million endowment will support up to 200 scholars annually from the U.S., China, and around the world for a one-year Master’s Degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China’s most prestigious universities and an indispensable base for the country’s scientific and technological research. Scholars chosen for this highly selective program will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures, traveling, and developing a better understanding of China. Admissions opened in the fall of 2015, with the first class of students in residence in 2016.

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Quote Sheet

George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States: “This program’s goal of promoting greater understanding between China, the United States, and the nations of the world is noble and critical. Our future leaders must not only talk to one another, but listen to and understand one another. This program will help future leaders bridge cultural divides to find common ground and advance shared interests.”

Tony Blair, Former British Prime Minister: “The fact that this program is bringing people to study in China is a big innovation, but one that is hugely critical in the world that’s now developing. China is the world’s largest country by population. It’s one of the great powers of the world. Understanding it, being able to interact with it, knowing about its culture, its thinking, its people – this is of fundamental importance to the future of the 21st century world we live in.”

Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank: “I’m so pleased to congratulate the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars, along with Steve, and everyone who helped make this program possible. We live in a world that is deeply interconnected. An issue, a crisis, a movement, an idea, can spread swiftly from one country to another. That’s why the most effective leaders of tomorrow will be those who can collaborate successfully across linguistic, cultural, and geographic boundaries. The Schwarzman Scholars program will offer the tools and experiences needed to address the great global challenges in front of us.”

Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman and CEO of Facebook: “Thanks for everything you’re doing to train this next generation of leaders and promote understanding between China, the United States, and countries around the world. I had a chance to visit Tsinghua University last year and meet with the students, faculty, and staff there. I can’t think of a better place to study, and learn about China, and how we can work together to build a better global community. Congratulations to the first class of Schwarzman Scholars. You represent some of the best and brightest that the world has to offer, and I look forward to seeing the difference that you’ll make.”

Novak Djokovic, Serbian professional tennis player: “I would like to express my congratulations for an impressive inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars and to all of those who made this program possible. Like Steve, I believe that education is the foundation of any society’s peace and prosperity. Today it is more critical than ever that we all find a common ground. I applaud and congratulate all of those who are helping nations around the world cooperate and find peace.”

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, Founder, Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation: “The Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation firmly believes that the Schwarzman Scholars program will enhance international relations through studies in science, medicine and the arts. We are proud to support the global leaders of the future.”

Wei Ing-Chou, Chairman, Tingyi: “As a Founding Partner of the Schwarzman Scholars Program, Master Kong is honored to participate in this globally renowned program. Over the past 25 years in China, we have upheld the principles of ‘reinvesting in our society and driving sustainable development’ by actively contributing to education, public welfare and corporate social responsibility initiatives. We truly believe that this program will establish a nurturing platform through which young scholars will become excellent leaders with multi-cultural insights and have a strong sense of responsibility to make contributions to world peace and development.”

China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd.: “For more than 30 years, Chairman Lu Zhiqiang and China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. have been devoted to enterprise development and corporate social responsibility, and we are honored to be a Founding Partner of the Schwarzman Scholars program. We have very high expectations for the program’s ability to educate and cultivate talent for the future of the world. China is a rising power and as the rest of the world grows, Schwarzman Scholars will explore models for change that we hope will impact generations to come.”

Zhao Weiguo, Chairman, Tsinghua Unigroup: “Congratulations to the founding cohort of Schwarzman Scholars, who will enhance their global vision through academics, leadership training and a deep dive into Chinese culture.”

Reignwood Group: “The future of the world belongs to our youth. Big dreams and a sense of responsibility are the hope of mankind. Schwarzman College has gathered ambitious students from all over the world to study on the hundred-year-old campus at Tsinghua University in Beijing, creating ample opportunity to learn from their peers and promote peace and prosperity in all countries. The wisdom of the East will inspire equality, respect and cooperation among peoples from all cultures. Our hope is that the Scholars, who have their own perspectives, dedication and proactive minds, will bring motivation to tackle world challenges and create win-win situations between countries. Our even greater hope is that Tsinghua University will ignite an undying flame of friendship in the soul of the Scholars, which will grow brighter and stronger until it illuminates a path to community and shared destiny.”

Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines: “Delta is proud to partner with the Schwarzman Scholars program as it continues to play a critical role in providing students with a global perspective from its university setting in China. As a global company, Delta is committed to supporting communities worldwide and is invested in growing our presence in China and investing in future leaders.”

Indra K. Nooyi, Chairman & CEO of PepsiCo: “The PepsiCo Foundation is proud to be an inaugural donor to Schwarzman Scholars. These talented young leaders hold immense potential to make our world more peaceful and prosperous for future generations. By bringing this group of gifted young people to China and immersing them in the country’s extraordinary history, culture and economy, this pioneering program is creating global citizens who will be well equipped to succeed in whatever field they choose to pursue.”

Feng Deng, Founding Managing Director of Northern Light Venture Capital: “Having lived in both China and the US for several years, I have found that many geopolitical problems are caused by lack of mutual understanding. More specifically, the knowledge of the western world by Chinese people is far better than the knowledge of China by western people, especially while China is fast growing. It’s truly an honor to be involved in the Schwarzman Scholars Program as a donor. I hope through this program it can help the western world to understand the modern China more deeply, which will lead to a more constructive relationship. In the long run, I believe this will benefit the peace and stability of the future world.”

Michael Corbat, CEO of Citigroup: “Citi is proud to partner with the Schwarzman Scholars program. We believe this program will help us foster our commitment to develop and connect future leaders with China and strengthen international relationships.”

Yudong Chen, President of Bosch (China) Investment Ltd.: “Bosch is honored to be part of the Schwarzman Scholars program. It will help the global leaders of tomorrow to better understand the Chinese economy as well as the society and culture of this country. Bosch has been present in China for more than 100 years and our donation underlines the long-term commitment of Bosch to China. Today, we employ more associates in China than in any other country outside Germany.”

Prof. Dr. Jochem Heizmann, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft and President & CEO of Volkswagen Group China: “Best wishes to the 110 young and ambitious Schwarzman Scholars. The commencement of the newly-constructed Schwarzman College on the campus of Tsinghua University is an important and encouraging signal to a fresh and young leadership in the midst of a revolutionary development of global economy. Digitalization, Industry 4.0, environmental challenges and the demands of an aspiring society need new thinking. We at Volkswagen AG respond to this transformation with our TOGETHER strategy 2025. Therefore a committed leadership is needed because we all know nothing is more constant than the change. I’m convinced that Schwarzman College will create great opportunities for the next generations of global leaders to face successfully the challenges of the 21st century.”

Brian T. Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America: “Congratulations to Steve Schwarzman and Tsinghua University for this initiative. Bank of America is pleased to be part of helping to make it possible.”

Nicolas Aguzin, Chairman & CEO of J.P. Morgan in Asia Pacific: “The talented and diverse students that make up the inaugural class of the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University is a great way to kick off such an innovative approach to developing tomorrow’s global leaders. J.P. Morgan is very proud to support such a strong curriculum and we wish the students all the best as they begin their exciting journeys.”

Zhang Yang, President of Tsinghua Holdings Capital: “Central to Tsinghua University’s new hundred-year strategy, Schwarzman College represents a significant point of future excellence in learning and scholarship. We believe that Schwarzman Scholars’ unique practical learning and innovative talent-nurturing methods under its vision of ‘based in China, facing the world’ will create the outstanding young global leaders the world of tomorrow needs.”

Mr. Qin Hongtao, Founder & CEO of Hengchang Litong Investment Management (Beijing) Co., Ltd.: “The inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars arrives this golden fall. It is a big event in the field of education in China. Based upon China yet opening up to the world, Schwarzman Scholars shoulders great responsibility. The college combines internationally qualified faculty team and outstanding students with China. Not only does it make a great contribution to the development of international education, but it also introduces China to the future international elite leaders. As a responsible internet financial company, Hengchang will continue supporting the development of the college and co-cultivating future young leaders with international perspectives, especially those that China hopes to attract.”