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Gifts Enhance TC's Recruitment and Influence in the Pacific Rim

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Trustee Edith Shih

Trustee Edith Shih

Trustee Edith Shih and UBS China Executive David Li support the College's growing involvement with Asian students and education.

Teachers College has received two generous commitments that will enhance the College’s recruitment of Asian students and increase its impact on education in China and Chinese-speaking communities.

Teachers College Trustee Edith Shih, who is Head Group General Counsel and Company Secretary of Hutchison Whampoa – a Fortune 500 investment holding company based in Hong Kong – has made an additional gift to her endowed Edith Shih Scholarship Fund, which she established to provide assistance for TC master’s and doctoral students from Asia. Shih’s gift extends her history of generous giving to Teachers College. 

A gift from David (Yi) Li, Chairman and Country Head of UBS China, recently established the C.Y. Li Endowed Scholarship Fund at Teachers College to support students interested in enhancing education in China and Chinese-speaking communities.

In fall 2012, TC’s applicant pool from China increased by 71 percent over the prior year, reflecting the College’s sustained outreach in China in recent years as well as its long history of collaborative engagement with China dating back nearly a century. During the early 20th century, a group of Chinese students enrolled at the College and then returned home to modernize China’s education system. The TC philosopher John Dewey delivered more than 200 lectures in China between 1919 and 1921, and at one point during the 1930s, the College’s international student population included roughly one-fifth of all Chinese education students in the United States.

“Teachers College is an iconic name in China,” said Shih, who in May 2011 organized a major conference for Teachers College in Hong Kong at which education leaders from several Asian countries addressed shared education needs and goals.  “Every time I come back to TC and Columbia, I see more and more Asian students. I believe that trend reflects both the quality of the education offered and the unique advantages of being in New York City.  Schools in other areas cannot provide the same kind of culture, diversity and the experience of learning to survive in such a major city. I know that even though I came to TC as a graduate student, I grew up in New York City.  I have benefitted from an education at TC.  I want to, in my small ways, help others to benefit from the same positive experience.”

Lijing Cai, the College’s Edith Shih Scholar for the 2012-13 academic year, is earning a master’s degree in Counseling and Clinical Psychology.

“I chose Teachers College because it is the top graduate school of education school in the United States, and because TC highly values the multicultural perspective, which I believe is critically important in mental health care,” she said. “I know that my TC connection will help me expand my network of resources. I know that my TC degree will help me with my future career in counseling psychology.  It is my hope that one day I could contribute to the improvement of mental health treatment for patients.”

Li, too, cited the historic importance of Teachers College in Asia, and in China in particular.

“I believe it is critically important for China to develop its next generation of education leaders,” he said. “I want to facilitate that process and to celebrate the tremendous legacy of exchange between TC and China that stretches back to John Dewey – particularly this year, as Teachers College marks the 125th anniversary of its founding.” 

Currently, the College is working with China to bring top Chinese high school students to TC to help them prepare to attend U.S. colleges, while aspiring teachers from Chinese colleges and universities take classes at TC and visit leading public and private high schools in the United States.

Speaking to a gathering of Chinese alumni and prospective students on the eve of the 2011 conference organized by Shih, TC President Susan Fuhrman said she hoped that “in the year 2137, when TC’s 250th birthday rolls around, the president of Teachers College will need a much larger venue to accommodate all of the College’s alumni and friends in Hong Kong.”  Through the generosity of donors like Edith Shih and David Li, that vision is moving closer to becoming a reality.


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