Alumni From Asia Gather to Reminisce, Network and Renew Campus Ties
by Marie Felde
Key Berkeley alumni from throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim reconnected with the campus and each other at the Asian Leadership Conference held in Bali in early November.
Berkeley has the largest number of alumni in Asia of any U.S. university, which means gathering them together can be a daunting undertaking.
"Traditionally, with international alumni, we get together on a one-to-one basis. That's very effective, but inefficient," said C. D. Mote, vice chancellor for University Relations.
The conference in Bali was the first time a group gathering was undertaken. "It was extremely successful. It gave our Asian alumni an opportunity to learn more about the campus and about each other, and it gave our faculty and U.S. alumni an understanding of the high esteem in which the university is held by their Asian counterparts," said Mote.
Underwritten entirely by corporate sponsors, the three-day meeting was attended by more than 150 alumni and friends, primarily from Asia, with others from Australia, Tahiti, Saudi Arabia and Mexico.
The UC Berkeley Club of Indonesia, led by Dorodjatun K. Jakti, hosted the conference. The club's members have played pivotal roles in shaping the Indonesian economy over the last 30 years and include Widjojo Nitisastro, economic adviser to the president of Indonesia.
The campus contingent, led by Chancellor Tien and Vice Chancellor Mote, included Nobel Laureate Charles Townes, Economics
Chair JohnQuigley; International Area Studies Dean Richard Buxbaum; Political Science Professor Bruce Cain; Computer Science Professor Lawrence Rowe, chair of the Berkeley Multimedia Research Institute; and Michael Borrus, co-director of the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy.
"Most impressive about this group of busy people, who had flown in from all over Asia for a brief conference, was their intense interest--and evident pride--in Berkeley," said Quigley.
"They were concerned with the food at Kips, the state of the science labs, the national rankings of their departments and the prospects for the basketball team. They saw this conference as an affirmation of the links between their university and the Pacific Rim," he said.
Townes was equally impressed by the gathering. "It was a very good conference; there was a wonderful spirit about it.
"I was impressed by what an excellent group of leaders--in business and government--our Berkeley alumni are. They are playing very important roles in their country and we should be proud to be connected with them," said Townes.
Among the U.S. alumni attending were Peter Haas and Warren Hellman, both long-time Cal supporters. It was Haas' brief address to the group that triggered one of the more memorable moments of the conference.
After Haas described his family's historic advocacy of the university and his personal support for the chancellor, Choong Kun "Charley" Cho, vice chairman of Korean Airlines, stood up to speak.
Cho, who graduated from Berkeley in 1959, recalled how he came to Berkeley on a $500 international scholarship from Walter Haas. Without that scholarship, he said, he could never have afforded the education.
That feeling of great warmth and goodwill toward the campus was felt all weekend, said Mote. In the end, individuals and clubs made public pledges of $21 million to the campus's fund-raising effort.
"We kept the conference very short and very focused, and I think very successful," said Mote. The attention was on the campus and its connection with its successful and highly influential Asian alumni. "We wanted to see how we can help them, how they can help us and how they can help each other by networking with one another," said Mote.
One day of the program included keynote presentations followed by panel discussions. Cain's keynote address discussed the U.S. political scene; Borrus' keynoter was on trans-pacific finance and investment.
Rowe spoke about the impact communication technology has on the way we work, play, live and teach. Townes concluded with a keynote talk on development and management of technology.
In addition to addresses by Tien and Mote, there was time for the alumni to reminisce about their days at Cal and for a breakout session that gathered alumni by country groups for planning.
"We wanted to know if more meetings like this would be of value to them, and how they would like to interact with the campus. What came back was a great deal of support for future international meetings," said Mote.