News - 10th January 2016 - (NY Times)
There is a Stephen A. Schwarzman public library building in New York City, a Stephen A. Schwarzman cultural center on the drawing boards at Yale, and now a Stephen A. Schwarzman College, a brick building with a pagoda-inspired roof on the Tsinghua University campus in Beijing that, starting in August, will house the first class of Schwarzman scholars.
On Monday, the program will announce the first 111 scholarship winners. Mr. Schwarzman, chairman and co-founder of the Blackstone Group, theprivate equity and investment giant, started the program with a goal of identifying, as he put it, “your best guess as future leaders of the world.”
Some of the recipients, selected from a pool of 3,000 applicants, already seem well on their way.
Lt. Daniel Glenn, 28, is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He did his scholarship interview via Skype from a secret location in Iraq, where he is the officer in charge of a Navy special operations platoon that defuses bombs and underwater explosives. Lieutenant Glenn has also founded two philanthropic organizations, and he broke a Guinness World Record for running a mile in an 80-pound bomb suit (8 minutes and 30 seconds). He told his interviewers that he intended to eventually run for the Senate.
Other winners include Rugsit Kanan, 22, a Harvard student from Thailand who writes poetry in English, Thai and Mandarin and plays on the Thai national chess team; Wang Zhe, 26, an economics major from Tsinghua University who was secretary of the Communist Youth League at the school of architecture and taught math and science in Kenya; and Jacob Gaba, 22, a computer science major at Dartmouth College who made a video of himself called “Guy Dances Across China in 100 Days” that went viral.
At his Manhattan office on Thursday, Mr. Schwarzman said that he had modeled his fully funded master’s program on the Rhodes scholarship, but that his was “global with a bit of a U.S. twist.”
His goal is to establish a $450 million endowment that would fund up to 200 students every year: 45 percent from the United States, 20 percent from China and 35 percent from other countries. Mr. Schwarzman, who according to Forbes is worth $9.6 billion, has personally contributed $100 million and has raised another $275 million from foundations and corporations including BP, Dow Chemical and Credit Suisse.
As Mr. Schwarzman spoke, the Chinese stock market was closed after a free fall, and he waved away an assistant bearing phone messages, telling her, “That can wait.”
Interviews with 300 semifinalists for the scholarship were conducted in Beijing, Bangkok, London and New York, and Mr. Schwarzman said he had been involved in the interview process in London and New York. David Petraeus, the former director of the C.I.A., and Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas, were among the judges.
Mr. Schwarzman described his role as a sort of warm-up act, greeting applicants in groups and assuring them that the interview would not be a test, but “more like an interview with Charlie Rose.” The applicants were, however, asked to play with Legos — as part of a team competition to construct a model building better and faster than other applicants.
Other, similar master’s scholarship programs have a presence in China, notably Rhodes, which recently awarded its first round of scholarships to Oxford to students from China. Mr. Schwarzman, who has been building relationships with the Chinese ruling elite since China’s government bought a $3 billion stake in Blackstone in 2007, said he created Schwarzman College to offer better networking opportunities.
He said that Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba Group, had agreed to give internships to some Schwarzman scholars, and that Niall Ferguson, the historian, and Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary, would serve as visiting professors.
Perhaps more significantly, Mr. Schwarzman said, his protégés would have access to some of the most influential people in the Chinese power structure. Noting that President Xi Jinping is a Tsinghua alumnus, Mr. Schwarzman described the university as a place where “you meet a lot of very well-connected, important people.”