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Saturday, 28 September 2013

Two Jeffrey Cheah Professorships of South-East Asia Studies (SEA) at Harvard University 谢富年基金会捐赠美国哈佛大学设立东南亚研究所

The Jeffrey Cheah Foundation (JCF) and Harvard University have signed agreements to establish two Jeffrey Cheah Professorships of South-East Asia Studies (SEA) at Harvard.

HARVARD University in the United States and the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation (JCF) have teamed up to launch an initiative to boost research in Southeast Asia studies.

The two professorships were the Jeffrey Cheah Professor and the Jeffrey Cheah Visiting Professor, said JCF founding trustee Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah .

The agreements would see the setting up of two Jeffrey Cheah Professorships (JCP) of Southeast Asia (SEA) Studies as well as the funding for projects under the collaboration which included the new Jeffrey Cheah Fellowship and the Jeffrey Cheah Travel Grants.

The agreements to effect the arrangements were finalised in July between Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah (as chairman of JCF) and Prof J. Dominquez, Harvard’s vice-provost for international affairs (acting for president of Harvard).

“During our first Board of Trustees meeting, the subject at hand was the setting up of the Jeffrey Cheah Institute of Research on Southeast Asia (JCIR-SEA).

“This will be set-up in Sunway University to facilitate a two-way flow of faculty and students between Harvard University and the institutions under the Sunway Education Group (SEG),” said founding trustee of the foundation, Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah.

The JCIR-SEA centre will serve as a pioneering link between a Malaysian private university and Harvard University and will soon be globally recognised as an independent research centre in South East Asia studies and the social sciences.

 "The objective is to support and advance research, conferences and workshops related to South-East Asia studies, as well as through other scholarship collaborations, joint publications and joint applications for the research grants," he said.

 The JCIR-SEA also seeks to become the foremost independent research centre globally, in the study of South-East Asia in the social sciences which aims to be a public policy tank in that social science research will be used to contribute to the advancement of the South-East Asian societies.

"It is my hope that the establishment of this linkage with Harvard, through the establishment of Professorships and the Jeffrey Cheah Institute of Research, will provide the impetus to strengthen Malaysia as a centre for educational and research excellence in the study of South-East Asia as a growing influence in the global community," he said.

“I am proud to do this as it is my passion to provide education for the young and old. I would even encourage those in the media to pursue life-long learning for themselves,” said Cheah, after announcing the US$6.2mil (RM20.5mil) contribution to the collaboration.

Meanwhile, the establishment of the Travel Grants will be administered as collaboration between Harvard's prestigious Asia Center (HAC) and JCF.

Cheah said, HAC would select the most competitive applicants for approval by JCF and help publicise the grant programme to Harvard faculty and students.

Jeffrey Cheah Professorship (JCP) endows a US$4mil Harvard chair in SEA Studies in perpetuity i.e. it’s forever, to be awarded to an eminent scholar focused on advancing teaching and research on societies and cultures of SEA countries, among them Malaysia.

The Jeffrey Cheah Professor may focus on any of the following themes: governance and public policy; political economy; economics and development particularly of the region; business and management; public health and health care; urbanisation; innovation; education; and the study of SEA’s peoples and cultures.

The first appointment, to be made at the discretion of the president of Harvard, will be in economic development and the professorship may reside in any school of the university. The professor’s title may also reflect the incumbent’s field of specialisation; e.g. “Jeffrey Cheah Professor of South-East Asia Studies and Political Economy.”

Jeffrey Cheah Visiting Professorship of SEA Studies involves an expendable gift of US$200,000 (RM658,000) to enable Harvard to appoint soonest possible a visiting professor for a specified term while the recruitment for JCP proceeds. It will also support at least one early conference related to SEA Studies to be coordinated in consultation with Sunway University (SUY). Excess monies can be used to support a second appointment, other conferences and workshops.

 Jeffrey Cheah Fellowship in SEA Studies endows US$1mil (RM3.3mil) in perpetuity to support a Harvard graduate student conducting research focused on SEA, made available in annual payments of US$100,000 (RM330,000) for 10 years. The Jeffrey Cheah Fellow may be appointed from any school at Harvard. Excess income may be used to appoint another Fellow.

The investment, administration, and distribution of each of these three sets of funds shall be managed at the discretion of Harvard’s president. The University will provide an annual report within 90 days after the end of each fiscal year.

Jeffrey Cheah Travel Grants (JCTG). In order to advance teaching and research focused on SEA by faculty and students of Harvard University – and to support engagement with Harvard by SEA-based scholars – JCF will underwrite a continuing series of grants to support research and education-related travel to and from Malaysia and SEA. Up to US$100,000 annually will be made available for the next 10 years to support this JCTG programme. The grants will better enable members of the Harvard community to travel to SEA (with Malaysia as priority) for research or study, and for scholars and practitioners on SEA Studies from institutions in SEA (especially the Sunway Education Group – SEG) to travel to Harvard to present lectures and conduct research utilising the university’s library and museum collections and its faculties’ expertise.

The grants will be administered as collaboration between Harvard’s Asia Center (HAC) and JCF. HAC will select the most competitive applicants for approval by JCF. HAC will also publicise the grant programme to Harvard faculty and students, and will coordinate with JCF on publicising the program under SEG. Harvard-based applicants will know that travel to Malaysia (solely or in addition to travel to any other SEA nation) is a prerequisite for receiving an award.

JCF hopes that Harvard faculty and students will utilise the facilities of the Sunway Group of Companies – including SEG – and will engage with the students, faculty, and administrative leaders of all Sunway institutions, notably through teaching, scholarly research collaborations, joint publications, and joint research grant applications. This offer of hospitality is intended to strengthen the connection and collaboration between Harvard University and all Sunway institutions, and help extend the reach and impact of JCTG.

As I understand it, these funds are intended “to support the best and the brightest faculty and students from around the world (including Malaysia) as they advance teaching and research focused on South-East Asia (SEA), including Malaysia… These funds will work in tandem to advance academic discovery focused on SEA, further define (the pro-active role of Malaysia in advancing) the growing influence SEA has on our global community, and strengthen ties between Harvard, Malaysia and the region.” said JCF Board of Trustees member Tan Sri Lin See Yan.

“The funding has been done in a manner that will encourage appointed Harvard professors to see Malaysia as their research hub, making Kuala Lumpur their gateway to Southeast Asia.

“From there, they can go to Jakarta, Bangkok or any country they want,” said Lin.
Lin, whom is also a Harvard alumnus, said the agreements to effect arrangements were finalised in July 2013 between Cheah and Harvard vice-provost for international affairs Prof J. Dominquez.
The travel grants will enable members of the Harvard community and scholars from Southeast Asian institutes to travel between Harvard University, Malaysia and Southeast Asia to present their lectures and research.

“I’m sure Harvard will appoint the most eminent professors, not only in America, but in the world. I hope that the presence of a prestigious Harvard lecturer will attract research students to get involved.
“We want our Malaysian students to be inspired and follow in the footsteps of expert researchers who are leaders in their respective fields,” said Lin.

When asked about the motivation for this current initiative, the board explained that SEA studies was previously overshadowed by focus on China and East Asia; but with the region gaining strong influence in the global economy, it is now primed to provide better understanding for international business communities and enhance social relations.

Trustees of JCF are right that teaching and research on SEA Studies are important and timely to fill the present vacuum left by the concentration of academic and other interests and pursuits in North-East and South Asia. It should further define the growing influence SEA has on the global community and strengthen the connection and collaboration between Harvard University and Malaysia, and SEA in general. It is essential that the gifts generate an active two-way flow of scholars between Harvard and SEG (which also administers SUY and Monash University Malaysia or MUM) to support research, conferences and workshops related to SEA Studies as well as through other scholarly collaborations.

Jeffrey Cheah has always been passionate about education. He has since set aside all his education assets, valued in excess of RM720mil (in addition to SUY and MUM, SEG comprises also Sunway College, Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine & Health Sciences and Sunway International School), into JCF to promote education and help the disadvantaged. To date, more than RM100mil have been given out in scholarships. JCF is by far Malaysia’s largest social enterprise. He often likes to say: “I aspire to inspire before I expire.” Cheah is fascinated by Harvard’s global success, so much so he aspires for his modest SEG to become someday, the Harvard of the East and he is prepared to invest to make this happen. So, I am delighted SUY will soon establish the Jeffrey Cheah Institute of SEA Studies (JCI) to act as a catalyst in promoting SEG as an attractive hub for studies on SEA.

They should encourage development of Malaysian academic talent to upgrade their studies and research at Harvard, and the injection of Harvard expertise to help develop and improve standards in teaching and research at SEG in SEA Studies.

This collaboration should also benefit higher education generally and help establish a new benchmark of excellence to improve, and become a world class education & research Hub in this region.

These gifts provide unique opportunities to link-up with Harvard University and its highly coveted Harvard brand. It will surely raise Malaysia’s standing in education globally. Indeed, it brings to bear at home the much coveted association with Harvard which rarely lends its name to any such ventures outside US. It also helps to extend the reach and impact of Harvard to SEA, which will eventually benefit and enhance the academic standing of SEG. That’s good.

“I personally hope to see that the appointed professor will be passionate about his work and truly enjoy being immersed in the different cultures,” said foundation trustee Prof Wang Gungwu.

The contribution is expected to positively impact economies of the region through increased travels, trade and investment opportunities.

The board aims to contribute towards reaching an East Asia and Pacific region global education enrolment of 43% by year 2035.

Since its official launch in March 2010, the foundation remains committed to giving back to society, awarding over RM130 mil worth of scholarships to more than 16,000 students to date.

Other illustrious members on the foundation’s board of trustees are Tunku Zain Al-’Abidin Tuanku Muhriz, Datuk Seri Razman M. Hashim, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, Tan Sri Rainer Althoff and Prof Richard Graeme Larkin.

It’s noteworthy JCI is being set up with the help and advice of Harvard Emeritus Prof D. Perkins who was at one time chairman of Harvard’s reputable Economics Department, and for 16 years thereafter, as director of the renowned Harvard Institute of International Development and before his recent retirement, as director of Harvard’s prestigious Asia Centre.

The aim of JCI is to be a top-notch independent research outfit, initially to bridge the gap in research and teaching in SEA Studies, collaborating and co-operating with other world-class institutions (including Harvard) and leveraging on research efforts at similar institutions worldwide, reflective of the best traditions of world-class think tanks.

 Malaysia badly needs such an initiative and Cheah’s bold effort is timely. The challenges facing us today are too consequential. The need for knowledge, imagination and deep understanding of SEA is just too great, and the opportunity to improve the human condition is too precious for us to do anything less than rise to the occasion. Cheah has sown the seeds to instil in our scholars what it means to be world-class.

谢富年基金会捐赠1860万 与美国哈佛大学设立谢富年东南亚研究所

  • 谢富年(左三) 与一众成员召开记者会, 汇报最新的动向。左起纳瓦拉德鲁、拉兹曼、林西彦、李霖泰及王赓武。

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