Leaders in higher education and business announced Oct. 19 the formation of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy, a global education and research initiative.
Foreseeing the future shape of higher education, the McDonnell Academy partners a major American university with top foreign universities and leading multinational corporations.
Among McDonnell Academy founders making the announcement were John C. Danforth, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and three-term member of the U.S. Senate and chair of the Academy’s external advisory committee; Mark S. Wrighton, chancellor of Washington University and immediate past chair of the Association of American Universities; John F. McDonnell, retired chairman of the board of McDonnell Douglas Corp. and vice chairman of the Washington University board of trustees; and Donald B. McNaughton, senior vice president, international and strategic ventures, Corning Inc.
Vital support for the Academy
Launched by Washington University and 15 leading Asian partner universities with a $10 million endowment commitment from John F. McDonnell and the JSM Charitable Trust, the McDonnell Academy creates a growing worldwide network of top scholars, researchers and business and governmental leaders. Other critical support comes from nine multinational corporations and several other foundations and individual donors.
“We are most grateful to John McDonnell and the JSM Charitable Trust for this generous naming gift that provides significant endowment support for the Academy,” Wrighton said.
McDonnell said, “This initiative by Mark Wrighton and Washington University is one of the most farsighted undertakings I have seen. It integrates the internationalization of research and education with the ascent of Washington University among the world’s leading universities.”
“Research universities outside the United States are improving at a rapid pace, especially those in Asia,” Wrighton continued. “In order to make more progress in addressing the world’s problems such as those related to environment and development, energy needs, infectious diseases, international conflict, food and poverty, we know that we must expand our partnerships to include international universities and corporations with global interests. Our McDonnell Academy represents new infrastructure to foster international cooperation in education and research, and the Academy’s scholars will represent a network of the next generation of global leaders in academia, corporations and governments.”
How the Academy functions
Headquartered at Washington University, the McDonnell Academy enrolls exceptional graduate and professional students from partner universities across all graduate disciplines at the university. These future leaders have all expenses paid, including tuition, room, board and travel. The McDonnell Academy not only provides them rigorous graduate instruction in their chosen degree areas but, uniquely, also steeps them in a cultural, political and social education program designed to prepare them as future leaders knowledgeable about the United States, other countries and critical international issues. The first of more than 20 Academy scholars begin work at Washington University in fall 2006.
The extracurricular program for McDonnell Academy scholars includes leadership training, cultural events, seminars and workshops with experts in key areas, conferences on crucial issues, and sessions in Washington, D.C., with U.S. government policymakers and grant administrators, according to Wrighton.
To help guide and enhance the educational experience for McDonnell Academy scholars, each is paired with a Washington University faculty member, who serves as an Ambassador-mentor and assists in the graduate scholar’s academic and professional life. These Ambassadors will also travel annually with the scholar to the scholar’s alma mater and work to build relationships between Washington University and the partner university.
“Academics have always communicated across cultural and political barriers, even when their homelands have been at odds,” Danforth said. “The McDonnell Academy capitalizes on and expands that long history of international scholarly collaboration. In the process, it will provide stronger resources, opportunities and outcomes for students, faculty and partner universities. Thanks to technology, knowledge no longer knows any physical barriers, whether they be border checkpoints or university walls.”
For the St. Louis area, the future of global education can be glimpsed through coming McDonnell Academy activities, Wrighton said.
“The McDonnell Academy will introduce future international leaders to St. Louis and our university community, as well as host numerous events on significant international topics in which university people and the public can participate and share,” Wrighton said. “We see the Academy as a means to enrich the cultural life of St. Louis and to highlight the region, the university and locally based sponsors and enhance their stature on the international map and in the eyes of top minds and key leaders.”
The Academy is directed by James V. Wertsch, Ph.D., the Marshall S. Snow Professor in Arts & Sciences and director of International and Area Studies.
Perspectives of Asian educators
Responding from Beijing, Peking University President Xu said, “I would like to thank you for your invitation to join the establishment of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy initiated by Washington University in St. Louis. The McDonnell Academy is an innovative initiative, which will undoubtedly serve as a model for international academic exchange and will stand apart from other student exchange programs. I appreciate your dedication to the educational collaboration between American and Chinese scholars. Not only will this initiative strengthen the development of common understanding among these scholars, but it will also encourage deeper and closer relations between our two universities. While Washington University in St. Louis and Peking University have enjoyed warm and friendly relations in the past, this initiative will certainly further enhance our cooperation. My own son had a rewarding experience at Washington University in St. Louis as a graduate student and earned his Ph.D. in biology. The McDonnell Academy will enable us to develop cooperative education and research programs of benefit to each university, their students and faculty, and other partners in the Academy.”
Broad support for the McDonnell Academy was voiced by Professor Arthur K.C. Li, secretary for education and manpower, Hong Kong, and former vice chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “Education and research are vital to the future of Hong Kong,” Li said. “We encourage our students to have overseas exposure so that they will develop an international perspective much needed for our economic success. We also encourage our higher education institutions to collaborate with international partners in education and research programs.
“The McDonnell International Scholars Academy at Washington University in St. Louis is an outstanding example of a global partnership to foster international cooperation among major research universities of the world, with an initial focus on Asia. I am very pleased that both the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong are among the universities partners in this exciting and innovative initiative.”
Inaugural partnerships in Asia
Wrighton said Asia’s burgeoning economic, educational and geopolitical importance, as well as Washington University’s existing Asian ties, led to the inaugural university partnerships there.
Ranking as primary among those ties is the International Advisory Council for Asia (IACA). Composed of more than 40 members from Asia and the United States, IACA is focused on helping strengthen the university’s outreach, visibility and partnerships in the global community. “The IACA deserves major credit for advice and counsel on the vision, mission and structure of the McDonnell Academy,” Wrighton said.
In addition, Washington University boasts an Executive M.B.A. Program at Fudan University in Shanghai. Ten percent of the university’s faculty and staff and 75 percent of its international students are from Asia. However, Wrighton envisions future McDonnell Academy partnerships with universities not only in Asia, but also in Europe, Australia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and is working to foster stronger relationships there.
Partner universities, from which McDonnell Academy scholars are being invited to apply, now include Peking University in Beijing, University of Tokyo, Fudan University in Shanghai, Tsinghua University in Beijing, Yonsei University in Seoul, Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, China Agricultural University in Beijing, National University of Singapore, University of Indonesia, Seoul National University, University of Hong Kong, Korea University in Seoul, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and National Taiwan University in Taipei.
Corporations sponsor scholars
Wrighton added that corporate interest and participation in the McDonnell Academy are crucial to its success.
The Academy’s Corporate Fellows are supported by multinational corporate sponsors, and other Academy scholars are funded by a special Academy endowment, Wrighton said. Sponsoring corporations also offer internships and on-site educational opportunities for corporate fellows.
At this time, the sponsoring corporations are: Boeing Co., St. Louis; Cabot Corp., Boston; Charoen Pokphand Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia; Corning Inc., Corning, N.Y.; Emerson, St. Louis; Monsanto Co., St. Louis; Nestlé Purina PetCare Co., St. Louis; Rohm and Haas, Philadelphia; and Tyco Healthcare/Mallinckrodt, St. Louis.
Representing corporate sponsors at the news conference, Donald McNaughton, senior vice president, international and strategic ventures at Corning Inc., said, “To stay connected with the brightest minds in the world … to engage the people who can help us solve our customers’ toughest challenges … we need programs like the McDonnell International Scholars Academy. We are very excited about the research relationships we’ll build through this Academy … not only with Washington University in St. Louis, but ultimately with other premier universities in the world.”