Ivan Glasenberg, Chief Executive, Glencore/ Getty
Ivan Glasenberg’s international mining group Glencore International has just joined a new international scholarship programme for fostering International and Chinese dialogue.
The “Schwarzman Scholars” is a new international scholarship programme created by Stephen Schwarzman, who is a co-founder of the giant, publicly listed, investment management company Blackstone Group.
The new programme has been modeled on the Rhodes Scholarships that Cecil Rhodes created over 100 years ago to send talented people from within the then British Empire and the United States (and, for a time from Germany) for graduate studies at Oxford University. These eventually became the most prestigious of all the graduate scholarships awarded at Oxford.
This time around the Schwarzman Scholars programme is designed to provide future leaders with a deeper understanding of China and the West. Students will come from both abroad and from within China. Schwarzman Scholars will be housed at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China’s most prestigious universities, dedicated to academic excellence and integrity, and to the interaction between Chinese and Western cultures.
When Blackstone co-founder announced the programme last April it caused quite a stir as he said it would be founded and endowed with US$300 million (or Yuan 1.8 billion), making it the largest private charitable effort in China’s history – and with the funds coming mostly from outside the country.
Schwarzman went to work to raise the cash a year ago with an international fundraising campaign, which has succeeded in raising US$260 million, very close to his target. Doubtless more will follow too. US$100 million of the money, raised so far was actually given by him directly as a personal donation.
Yesterday it was announced that Glencore International had joined the list of top corporate sponsors of the programme. In doing so Glencore has endowed five student scholarships for a 15 year period to ensure that a total of 75 qualified students are able to participate in the Schwarzman Scholars program as “Glencore Fellows.”
At the groundbreaking ceremony yesterday for Schwarzman College, the residential building that will house the program, Stephen Schwarzman said, “I thank Glencore for their very generous support for this program. Our shared hope is that, by educating future leaders about China, we can help shape the course of world events. Greater understanding between nations will foster heightened stability, mutual prosperity and greater opportunity.”
Ivan Glasenberg, Glencore’s CEO, for his part commented:
“We are delighted that Glencore is becoming a Founding Partner of the Schwarzman Scholars. This initiative will provide exciting opportunities for scholars from both China and the West as well as further strengthening our relationship with one of the most dynamic growth regions of the world.”
The endowment income for each student scholarship will be used to cover tuition and academic fees, extracurricular learning expenses, living expenses, travel expenses to and from China at the start and completion of the program, as well as within China during the program’s duration; and an allocation of the Schwarzman College overhead and operating costs.
Mr. Schwarzman continued, “I am grateful for the generous support of our Cornerstone and Founding Partners, and all of our donors who have demonstrated intuitive support for the program’s mission. Their generosity will allow us to endow Schwarzman Scholars and educate thousands of students in the coming decades.”
Schwarzman Scholars will support 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. The programme is designed to provide future leaders with first-hand exposure to China and relationships with its people in the hopes of fostering greater cooperation between China and the rest of the world, for decades to come. It is expected to open in the summer of 2016, and take admissions the previous Fall.
The programme has already been eulogized by the Economist as “a testament to China’s place as a new center of gravity” and by the Financial Times as “a groundbreaking initiative, ” and the hope is it will support a new generation of leaders as they learn to overcome differences and lead “with confidence and sensitivity”.
If you want to apply to it some day, or want to donate to it, or just wish to learn more about the programme, a full description of the Schwarzman Scholars programme can be found at www.schwarzmanscholars.org and on the programme’s Facebook page.
As always in initiatives of this kind it is unlikely that completely pure altruism is entirely at work here. As one of the world’s largest investment management companies Blackstone is likely keenly interested in deepening its investment ties with China over the long haul. Similarly Glencore is today one of the world largest coal suppliers to the Chinese economy, so they both have a natural interest in relationship building programmes of this kind, and there is nothing wrong with that.
As long as you do good your heart does not need to be perfectly pure while you are doing it, as our Rabbi used to tell us many times.