Walking through the Beijing Capital International Airport after a long flight from New Haven, Connecticut, Yale President Richard Levin was stopped by a Chinese traveler.
Tired and a little surprised, Levin did not recognize him at first, but soon realized the man was an alumnus of the university's China-Yale Senior Government Leadership Program.
"He told me how valuable the program is and how he and the rest of the class enjoyed it," he said Thursday during a hectic visit to Beijing.
Levin met with officials at the Ministry of Education and other heads of renowned Chinese universities Thursday to discuss partnerships with China, including the China-Yale Senior Government Leadership Program initiated in 2005.
The program teaches Chinese officials at the vice-minister-level about US law and public policy. Given its success and the positive feedback from participants, Yale is in talks to renew the program.
The China National School of Administration served as a partner with Yale in the program's first three years. The Central Party School took over the reigns as partner in 2009.
Since 2006, the Chinese government has initiated large-scale training programs for cadres and senior officials.
For Yale, where four of the last six US presidents were educated, the program, designed by the China Law Center at Yale Law School, is a chance to build a strong connection with China and impart knowledge to bright and young Chinese leaders.
"We are educating rising leaders or current leaders around the world," said Levin, who has served as president of Yale since 1993.
"The program gives us a chance to have a more immediate impact to expose Chinese leaders to the best of what our campus can offer about contemporary world affairs."
Levin praised the direction of China's universities, going more toward the US model of college education.
President Hu Jintao generally embraces this trend in China's Five-Year plan to highlight the creativity and innovation that have been important social values in China, he said.
"This mode combining breadth and depth produces more flexible and adaptable leaders who can change as times change over their long careers," Levin said.
By learning science, literature and philosophy, they are better leaders and more flexible in leading society, he said.