President's Column: West Meets East

The Claremont Colleges delegation travels to Asia.

Night view of Hong Kong's skyline from Victoria Harbor.

President Laura Skandera Trombley with English and American literature post-graduate students at Shanghai University following her talk on Mark Twain.

This spring I travelled with The Claremont Colleges delegation to Asia and would like to share with you highlights from our trip to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. I am pleased to report that this was a very positive and engaging experience and I thank Pitzer Trustees Susan Pritzker P'93 and Bill Brunger P'01, Dean of Faculty Alan Jones, and alumna and President's Office staff member Andrea Olson '98 for helping to represent Pitzer College superbly among the thirty-two consortium delegates.

Our hosts throughout Asia were wonderful, welcoming and keenly interested in U.S. liberal arts education. During the course of ten days, the Claremont delegation, which consisted of presidents, deans, faculty, administrative staff and trustees from the five undergraduate colleges, two graduate schools and the university consortium executive office, visited a total of seventeen institutions of higher education representing a range of disciplines and programs.

In addition to meeting key governmental and academic leaders throughout the region, we had the distinct opportunity to meet with the president of Singapore, the ambassador-at-large at Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. ambassador to China at receptions each dignitary hosted for the delegation. The Pitzer team also had the pleasure of meeting distinguished individuals throughout Asia, graciously introduced to us by friends of the College.

Along with many dignitaries, representatives from higher education and governmental leaders we met at receptions throughout our stay, we were delighted to also visit with many of Pitzerís alumni, parents and students currently studying in China. We had the pleasure of seeing again alumni Matt Berry '07 (currently a Princeton-in-Asia Fellow), Steven Chang '83, Olivia Loh Ing '97 and Matt Turzo '06, as well as Pitzer parents Linda and Arthur Belfer (parents of Thomas '11), Laura Chen (parent of Elaine Chen-Fernandez '07) and Anh and Lam Nguyen-Phuong (parents of Jeremy '11). And in Beijing at a reception we hosted at Peking University for the Claremont delegation, their guests and press representatives, we had a terrific reunion with our Pitzer in China students Chisato Aonuma '09, Owen Brewer '08, Carolyn Collins '08 and Francine Mireles '09, all making a fantastic impression on our guests.

As anticipated, throughout the trip we were presented with important opportunities to advance and enhance the College. We were able to showcase our Pitzer in China program both at our well-attended Pitzer in China reception as well as through interviews that appeared in the national press, including two separate articles in the largest English-language newspaper in China, the China Daily.

During our many meetings with individuals involved in higher education, we discussed possibilities for expanding our international exchange programs and learned of an increasingly strong interest in adopting the U.S. liberal arts approach to higher education. We forged what we believe to be important ties throughout the region and look forward to continued dialogue about developing our relationships for the benefit of our educational programs.

At many of the universities we visited, we discussed academic year exchanges as well as potential summer study opportunities. Representatives from the National University of Singapore, which plans to establish a liberal arts college within their university, visited The Claremont Colleges in May. In addition, this May Pitzer signed a memorandum of understanding with Lingnan University in Hong Kong for a student exchange program.

In anticipation of growing relationships with Asia's higher education institutions, Dean Jones will be establishing a working group on Pitzer in Asia with the aim of sharing ideas and keeping the community apprised of opportunities made available in the region for Pitzer and our fellow consortium members.

—Laura Skandera trombley, President, Pitzer College