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Smith College serves as chief academic planning partner for new women’s college in Asia

The Asian Women’s Leadership University, located in Malaysia, will provide a liberal arts education with a focus on leadership.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Smith College will serve as the United States’ lead academic planning partner to establish an academically rigorous undergraduate liberal arts women’s college (tentative name) in Malaysia. Asian Women’s Leadership University (AWLU).

According to the project’s founders, who began discussing the idea of ​​establishing AWLU in 2010, AWLU’s main purpose is to educate and empower women to become leaders in promoting social, political and economic development in Asia. It is said that it is to give.

Smith President Carol T. Christ said the university will expand women’s access to high-quality education, citing a growing consensus that global progress depends on education and the empowerment of women. He said he supports the idea and is attracted to the opportunity to support the development of liberal arts institutions. It will address and take into account the specific needs and circumstances of the Asian region.

“As we face the challenges of the global economy, access to education is a critical resource. Leaders who move their communities and countries forward not only demonstrate knowledge, but also analyze materials and synthesize arguments. , you will be able to suggest new and creative ideas and interpretations,” Christ said. “This project responds to the growing demand for competencies that are central to American-style liberal education.”

Professor Christ called the planning partnership “consistent with Smith’s mission, resonates with our history, and is consistent with our global strategy,” adding, “Imagining women’s universities in Asia for the 21st century.” “The intellectual challenge of planning is compelling.”

Ms. Smith has long-standing ties to Asia, graduating the first Japanese students in 1910, and helping to establish and maintain China’s Jinling University for Women in the early decades of the 20th century.

The idea for AWLU was originated by three Smith alumni, Hung Eng Khoo, Mona Sinha, and Barbara Hou, who formed the founding committee of the AWLU Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the United States. I did. Purpose of establishing AWLU.

Smith’s alumni span 30 years. Khoo, a 1973 graduate of his Malaysian background, is a faculty member at the Yong Lulin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and at Yale, where he also holds an administrative position at NUS University. A 1988 graduate of India and based in New York, Sinha is a former investment banker and turnaround expert with a deep commitment to social entrepreneurship and women’s education. Ms. Hou graduated from San Francisco in 2003 and worked as a corporate lawyer in Hong Kong before serving as president of the AWLU Project. Mr. Khoo and Mr. Sinha both serve on the Smith College Board of Trustees.

The three founders see this project as a way to honor the education they received at Smith and provide the same opportunities to new communities and the next generation of up-and-coming women.

This three-year planning partnership has been extended through 2015, with the goal of enrolling the first class of 100 students in the temporary facility that year. AWLU is open to students from all over the world, but we expect that most students will be from the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. AWLU seeks to organize student organizations that are representative of the ethnic, national, cultural, religious, and socio-economic diversity of these regions.

Once fully operational, AWLU will enroll 2,000 female students in a four-year residential academic program modeled after the U.S. baccalaureate system and America’s “Seven Sisters” liberal arts colleges. AWLU’s faculty are international, and the language of instruction is English.

In connection with this planned partnership, Smith College will also collaborate with a team of leading scholars from Asia and the Middle East on curriculum and pedagogy. Special attention is also given to the development of the leadership element of the curriculum.

The AWLU project is based on Malaysia’s stability, economic growth, central location, young English-speaking population, low cost of living, Malaysian government’s support for higher education and commitment to being recognized as an international education hub. recognized as a land. In February 2012, the Malaysian government declared her AWLU as an entry point project, making AWLU one of the key national projects to promote Malaysia’s development.

Additionally, the Penang State Government will provide land to build a permanent campus for AWLU. Penang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an area of ​​cultural and natural heritage that the World Heritage Committee considers to be of outstanding universal value.

Malaysia’s support for AWLU comes amid consensus within the government that the development of female leaders is necessary to maintain the country’s growth rate.

Smith College educates promising women for great lives. One of the largest women’s colleges in the United States, founded in 1875, Smith College enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students from nearly every state and 63 countries.

Asian Women’s Leadership University Vision Statement

Asian Women’s Leadership University is a world-class, globally oriented university that fosters and strengthens the capabilities of each student to become a driving force for full participation in society and the promotion of cross-cultural understanding, regional development, and international cooperation. The University’s diverse student body embodies a shared spirit of entrepreneurship and community service that leads to new initiatives, contributes to national progress, and creates further opportunities for others. Together, these women will shape the next generation of leaders as they strive to achieve change in their communities, countries, and the world. For more information, please visit:


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