Yu Du ’15G received his MBA from Lehigh on Monday and will return home to Shanghai, China after two years on South Mountain. He will not, however, completely leave his alma mater.
Du has been working with Oliver Yao, professor and chair of the department of management, and multiple stakeholders to strengthen Lehigh’s presence in China in terms of both prospective students and alumni. With the support of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, the Office of Alumni Engagement and the Lehigh in Shanghai study abroad program, Yao and Du are planning an event at the Tongji University Siping Lu Campus in Shanghai on June 13.
At the event, Yao will present an information session for prospective Chinese students, and a panel of faculty members and current Lehigh students studying in Shanghai will provide an opportunity for prospective Chinese students to mingle and ask questions. A networking dinner at a nearby restaurant will follow. Current Lehigh students, alumni and members of the incoming Class of 2019 residing in China have been invited.
Yao has been actively engaged in Lehigh’s efforts in China for many years. A member of the Office of International Affairs’ China working group and director of the Lehigh in Shanghai program, Yao has been on Lehigh’s delegation to China multiple times and has also travelled there with graduate students. Yao proposed the idea of a Shanghai information session to Morgan Volkart '06, ’10G, Lehigh’s director of international recruitment. Du, who worked as a research assistant for Yao, wanted to help as well.
“When recruiting international students, it is of utmost importance that we are transparent about what the Lehigh experience means and what prospective students can expect when they get to campus, especially since the prospective international student is much less likely to be able to visit campus and experience Lehigh first hand,” says Volkart. “The great thing about the event in Shanghai is that so many prospective students will get the chance to hear from Lehigh students, alumni and faculty face to face in their home country about the Lehigh experience.”
“Given that Lehigh is admitting more and more students from China, we believe it is a great idea to build up Lehigh's reputation more in China,” Yao says. “It is Lehigh's quality education that provides the most value to them.”
Once on campus, international students receive extensive support from the Office of International Students and Scholars, the English as a Second Language program, the Office of the First-Year Experience, counseling services and peer-to-peer mentoring networks including Lehigh's over 50 cultural clubs and organizations. These programs and groups help students adjust to their new environment in the United States and at Lehigh. In 2013, Lehigh admitted 113 international students, 92.9% of whom returned for their second year, due in large part to this support.
“Lehigh's tight-knit community and supportive environment help international students to acclimate and build relationships with faculty and staff who help to keep them on track for graduation in four years,” says Volkart.
Lehigh also benefits from the presence of Chinese students. The university prioritizes globalization, both in providing opportunities for students to experience different parts of the world and in welcoming international students to campus.
“[International students] add diversity value and they bring culture to campus. We learn from each other,” says Yao.
‘A solid network in China’
Du plans to begin an alumni club in China to connect the many Lehigh graduates living there.
“Before I came [to Lehigh], I didn’t know Lehigh University—it’s not famous in China. If there’s an alumni club, we can create more events in China and more people can know Lehigh. It would also be great for alumni—people would know Lehigh [when you say you graduated from Lehigh],” says Du. His two years here, he says, have had an enormous impact on him both personally and professionally, and he looks forward to sharing more about Lehigh with his country come June.
“Our alumni clubs rely on strong volunteer support, even more so the farther they are from South Mountain,” says Megan Stevens, director of regional and affinity strategy for the Office of Alumni Engagement. “Seeing how excited Yu is to gather volunteers and bring this network together is inspiring. Professor Yao's commitment to bringing current students to China through the Lehigh in Shanghai program as well as spread the word about Lehigh in China is also much appreciated. ...I see the establishment of a solid network in China leading to increased enrollment of Chinese students as well as to more opportunities for alumni in China to give back to Lehigh.”
“The world is flat now,” says Yao. “Lehigh students are no longer competing with [only] students in the mid-Atlantic or in the US. They are competing globally in terms of jobs and opportunities. To better prepare them, we need give them some international experience. In addition, by expanding Lehigh's international experience, we are attracting the best talents from all over the world.”
With the upcoming Shanghai event and a new alumni club, Lehigh is strengthening the international experience of countless students.
“The whole process has truly been a wonderful example of how collaboration across campus can produce amazing opportunities for the Lehigh family to come together and bring the Lehigh experience to the other side of the globe,” says Volkart.
Prospective students, current students and alumni in China can register for the event here.