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In Beijing and Hong Kong, SPS Grows Global Partnerships

At Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies (SPS), we are continually working to enhance our students’ experience and career pursuits with innovative programming and partnerships, both here in the U.S. and internationally.

To that end, SPS traveled to Beijing and Hong Kong to connect with top government, business, and university officials, as well as continue to build our alumni network abroad. Over the course of the 10-day trip, we were privileged to meet with university presidents and other leaders in top educational institutions, as well as senior-level influencers and key business contacts in the fields of sports, finance, and healthcare to discuss market trends and opportunities for education and collaboration.

I’m pleased to share some of the outcomes of the trip, which highlight our commitment to growing our international presence, educational frameworks, and strategic corporate alignments to create and expand opportunities for our students and partners.

The $800B Sports Frontier

The sports market in China is the largest in the world—China is targeting a 5 trillion-yuan ($800 billion) sports industry by 2025—but little educational infrastructure exists to support it.

It was a tremendous honor to meet with Yang Shu'an, the Vice President of the Chinese Olympic Committee and Vice Minister of the General Administration of Sport of China. We were the first U.S. educational institution to do so.

“Sports are not political. Sports unify people,” the Vice Minister said. He recalled the term “ping pong diplomacy” from the 1970s, when the U.S. and China exchanged table tennis players, which helped find common ground between the two countries. We discussed China’s preparations for the coming Olympics, the country’s mandate that children gain experience in winter sports, and how technology is affecting the world’s sports markets differently.

We unveiled our new, innovative companion degree program between Guanghua School of Management at Peking University, China’s leading business school, and our Sports Management program, directed by Vince Gennaro. Students will spend their first year at Guanghua and the second year in New York. Upon successful completion, students will earn two degrees—an MBA degree from Guanghua School of Management and an M.S. in Sports Management from Columbia SPS.

The companion degree program is an important step in addressing the need to develop sports management talent to fuel the industry's growth in China. We are proud of our partnership with Guanghua and expect to leverage our cross-school faculty and market-driven curricula to create leaders in the international sports world.

The Ethics of Progress

China is at the forefront of medical advances—in fact, Beijing is home to the largest DNA human sequencing plant in the world—and with that comes an interest in examining the ethical considerations that come with progress. The Chinese University of Hong Kong is building a Bioethics Center and has tapped SPS to help develop the new curriculum, with both online and in-person components.

Dr. Robert Klitzman, our Bioethics M.S. Program Director, will also consult on big-picture topics, including palliative care, scarcity of resources, the divide between rich and poor, as well as lead the discussion around how should those in the medical field approach and prioritize these issues. Dr. Klitzman announced upcoming webinars for the Chinese and Hong Kong markets.

A Worldwide SPS Corporate Network

A critical partner to us in building out our corporate network has been Dr. David Madigan, Columbia’s Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He accompanied us and represented Columbia University as both we and the University continue to grow a global presence. While in China, Dean Madigan and I met with Ba Shusong, the Chief China Economist for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (who was named the most influential economist of 2014 by NetEase, a top Chinese website).

Additionally, Dr. Lina Xu, Actuarial Science M.S. Program Director and our team met with Siyi Sun, Chief Actuary Asia of MetLife and President of the Chinese Actuary Association.

In Hong Kong, we launched the first of our Salon Dinner series, an extension of the SPS Alumni Forums that gives SPS alumni, faculty, and administration the chance to meet with top business leaders and discuss market trends, potential partnerships, and the need for continuous training and learning for the workplace. I was fortunate to sit next to Daniel Xu, Core Founder and CIO of Tencent, the tech company best known for WeChat. We discussed the opportunity for Columbia to educate his company’s executives.

I look forward to sharing more news from the trip, and I believe you will see its impact over the coming months and years. Thanks to everyone who helped make the trip a possibility, a priority, and a great success.