The University of Chicago (UChi) announced the opening of a new academic centre in Hong Kong on November 21, made possible thanks to a HKD$234 million donation from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Chicago Booth Academic Complex came into being as part of a “Social Impact Grant”, a 15 year commitment between the Jockey Club and the world-class University of Chicago Booth School of Business, ranked eighth in the world according to Financial Times. The commitment is expected to benefit Hong Kong’s social sector, and give a strong boost to local NGOs. Robert Zimmer, president of UChi, believes the centre will prove a mutually fruitful endeavour for both the school, and Hong Kong as a city. “We think that our faculty and students will benefit a great deal and we expect we will be able to make a contribution the same way,” he says. The facility will be named the Francis and Rose Yuen Centre in honour of University Trustee Francis Tin Fan Yuen, AB’75, and his wife, Rose Wai Man Lee Yuen. Construction is set to finish in approximately two years’ time. Once completed, the Yuen centre is expected to serve as an economic and educational hub for many years to come. Zimmer says that the development of the centre is part of the university’s long-term effort to become and remain actively involved with Hong Kong and China; an effort which began in 2010 with the development of the school’s Beijing centre. “We view the centre in Hong Kong in conjunction with the centre in Beijing as a demonstration of a major, long-term commitment to work in China and Hong Kong,” explains Zimmer. “We have tremendous colleagues and alumni who work here.” Booth has recently made their Executive MBA programme available in Hong Kong instead of Singapore, a move which has been highly successful thus far. “The executive MBA and regular MBA programme are essentially the same from the point of view of academic content, they differ only in timing and structure,” says Zimmer. “It’s all taught by faculty who come here, we’re not farming out the education.” He adds that Booth’s executive MBA programme is unique in the sense that academically, it is not “lighter” than any full-time MBA programme. Candidates, who are expected to have a minimum of 10 years’ work experience, will be challenged to their utmost. And Having the Yuen Centre as a base is expected to strengthen the programme even further. The centre will be located at Mt. Davis, and will allow for an increased uptake of Hong Kong students in both the Booth school, and in various other disciplines. These include science and public health, culture, and the arts. It will also be the home for the creation and operation of a new programme on social innovation, aimed at strengthening Hong Kong’s social sector. Finally, the centre will give local UChi students opportunities to study abroad and pursue potential career avenues in the city, as well as give the school the chance to strengthen existing alliances with Hong Kong’s Universities. This includes the University of Hong Kong, with whom UChi established an official partnership in August. Zimmer is hopeful that the success of the Beijing centre will follow on in Hong Kong. “There are about 2,500 students a year that go through the Beijing centre, most of them Chinese, so it’s quite an active effort and we’re looking at dividing the programme here similarly. The Yuen Center will be a home for education and research in the context of collaboration and engagement in Hong Kong, China, and Asia, building upon the University’s rich history of scholarship in the region,” Zimmer says.