Washington University in St. Louis’ Olin School of Business will get a Ding at the end of September – and that’s good news.
In this case, a Ding is not something that requires repair or that mars a reputation. In fact, the Ding to be unveiled on September 30 is a mark of honor, donated by a group of Executive MBA alumni from the school’s program in Shanghai, China. The Olin School of Business has conducted an Executive MBA program in Shanghai for more than three years. It’s run as a joint educational venture with Fudan University, one of China’s premier educational institutions. The program follows the same curriculum as the EMBA program in St. Louis and is taught in English by many of the same professors.
A Ding is part of a set of ceremonial bronze vessels, which historically came in a variety shapes and frequently carried food and wine. The ruling class used the ritual bronzes during ancestor worship rituals, placing the vessels in burial tombs. Beginning in the Shang dynasty, which lasted from the 16th to the 11th century, BC, large Dings were used as gifts from one aristocrat to another. These large Dings symbolized authority and the right to rule. The number of Dings an aristocrat owned indicated his status: the Emperor had nine Dings, dukes and barons had seven and scholarly gentlemen, three.
The EMBA-Shanghai alumni are donating the Ding as a symbol of the strong ties they have to Washington University. In Chinese culture, giving gifts is a way of showing ongoing commitment to a person or institution.
The Ding that the Olin School of Business will receive is five feet tall, four feet in diameter, and weighs 1500 pounds. The gift is a reproduction of the Da Ke Ding from King Xiao’s reign in the 10th Century B.C., which resides in the Shanghai Museum. It was cast at a foundry in Shanghai and has a base inscribed with the names of the donors in Chinese and English. The Chinese Art Institute of Shanghai Jiaotong University made the replica. The Ding will be installed in a pavilion designed specially for it and will be placed in the courtyard of the Charles F. Knight Executive Education Center. The pavilion is made of wood and stone and was designed by architect Gregory J. Goebel of Riddle Design.
“We feel honored that our EMBA-Shanghai alumni felt moved to give this symbol of leadership,” said Mahendra Gupta, dean of the Olin School of Business. “We’re very proud of our relationship with Fudan University and we are proud of the accomplishments that the 140-plus EMBA-Shanghai alumni have achieved. We look forward to many more years of enhancing and enriching this relationship.”
The Ding will be dedicated immediately following the graduation ceremony for EMBA-Shanghai class of 2005 — the third class to come out of Olin’s EMBA-Shanghai program. By completing the 18-month program, the students become full-fledged alumni of both Washington University and Fudan University.
Ding Dedication: Friday, Sept. 30; 5 p.m.; Knight Center Courtyard on the hilltop campus of Washington University