As you know, I recently returned from a trip to China with Professor Carol Izumi and Alumni Center Executive Director Shino Nomiya. This trip was planned for multiple purposes. We wanted to visit our exchange partners. We also wished to enhance alumni relations, pursue employment possibilities for graduates, recruit students, and gain a first-hand sense of the marketplace.
I'd like to report on a few highlights of our experiences in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, and Hong Kong. Incidentally, as you may be aware, there is an expectation in China that a leader always be accompanied by a delegation. We have sought to present an appropriate image by the most cost-effective means. In particular, I always want to ensure that we're careful about Carol's role since she is my spouse. Although she paid her own airfare, she worked the entire trip. As a faculty member, she attended every meeting and presented material on both alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and clinical education, topics of tremendous interest to our hosts.
In Beijing and Shanghai, we met with administration, faculty, and students at our existing exchange partners. Peking University (Bei Da) is acknowledged as one of the leading educational institutions in the nation. Shanghai Jiao Tong University is the newest of the "top ten" law schools. We are privileged to work with schools of such prestige, and they are equally enthusiastic about their respective relationships with us.
In these arrangements, we aspire to be affiliated with schools that are attractive to our students, ensuring educational benefit to them and avoiding a “trade deficit” (more students coming here than going there). In addition, our stature overseas is reflected by our affiliations. Peking University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (whose law school is about to move downtown to a new campus) are schools that readily satisfy our standards and serve our institutional interests.
In each city, we had alumni events as well as individual meetings with graduates. We have many graduates there, including Chinese nationals who were in the LLM program and those in the JD program, Chinese Americans, and other Americans with every level of linguistic ability. In Wuhan, the United States Consul General—one of only five in China, under the terms of the diplomatic relationship—is Diane Sovereign (class of '93), a career Foreign Service Officer.
Employers are interested in our graduates. I met, for example, with Joe Simone, a partner at Baker & McKenzie's Hong Kong office, which is among the leading firms in the city. While he is not an alumnus of ours, he hired two summer associates and one associate this year, and he'd like to recruit more on campus. Americans work at Chinese firms, Chinese at American firms, and those firms increasingly perform similar work.
There is demand for specialists in intellectual property, with the likelihood that Chinese companies will begin enforcing IP rights rather than merely defending themselves against claims. There is also a boom in initial public offerings, as well as mergers and acquisitions.
China has high levels of optimism, not only about their national progress but also for the world economy. Yet it is important for us to emphasize our own strengths. For all the opportunity to be found there, what many want most is the education available here. They believe that expertise in American law will be crucial to the future.
Thus we'll be following up on all aspects of our travel. Most importantly, we must cultivate alumni in order to generate vital private support. Beyond that, our institutional relationships require cultivation, especially those that have only just begun. Sending graduates to Asia and attracting students from Asia belong to the same cycle; they are mutually reinforcing. To compete effectively requires planning, commitment, and perseverance.
When I was introduced to Chinese people, I sometimes joked that it turns out my mother was right—I should have paid attention in Chinese school. Thankfully, my Mandarin was serviceable enough for us to forego an interpreter. I believe UC Hastings’ future, like that of this great democracy, belongs within the world at large—and that our location gives us a special advantage along the Pacific Rim.
-Frank H. Wu, Chancellor and Dean