China Center leader honored for his work

Hong Yang has widened partnerships with the community and businesses.

by Elizabeth Giorgi

Hong Yang is a motivated person.

Yang’s work with the University’s China Center and the work he has done to bridge Minnesota and China together has made him a recipient of the Twin Cities International Immigrant Achievement Award, which he received Wednesday at the 2006 Twin Cities International Citizen Award Ceremony.

Yang has worked as director of the China Center for six years and is the first person to run the center as a full-time position.

“I wasn’t even in the office when the committee called to tell me I won the award,” he said.

Communications director Jennifer Wu Dunn said she received a phone call and later was able to call Yang to tell him he had won, but Yang didn’t even know who had nominated him, she said.

One thing that separates Yang from other bosses is that he really cares about his workers, she said.

“I don’t know that I would have applied for this job if it wasn’t for Hong Yang,” Wu Dunn said.

He made the China Center better known on campus, she said.

Yang said one of the programs he is particularly proud of developing is the Corporate Partnership program. The funding from the program has allowed the center to start many additional programs, he said.

One of the programs Yang is in the process of developing with the money from the corporate sponsorships is the Minnesota-China Business Road Map.

The program will help business leaders in Minnesota and China connect their work through a database of contacts, he said.

“The Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota business community has a global vision and international understanding,” he said.

Yang said he believes he was chosen for the award because he expanded his work beyond the University.

In working with the Department of Education and Minnesota politicians, Yang said he is trying to promote Chinese and Mandarin language education in Minnesota’s schools.

Before Yang took on the China Center director position, Joan Brzezinski worked as the interim director of the center. She said she is impressed with what Yang has been able to do at the University.

“I think the China Center has broadened its scope well beyond the University’s borders,” she said.

Yang has put energy into several of the Center’s programs, including the China Day program that brings area high school students to the University for a day, she said.

Judson Sheridan, director of international programs in the College of Biological Sciences, serves on the China Center Advisory Council.

Sheridan said he went on several trips to China with Yang over his term and is impressed with his networking abilities.

“He is an extraordinarily enthusiastic and enterprising leader,” Sheridan said.

Meredith McQuaid, Law School dean of international and graduate programs, said she is impressed with Yang’s help at the Law School.

She said the school is setting up a law degree program in Beijing, and it would be difficult to achieve without Yang’s help, she said.

Overall, Yang has done far more than anyone expected, she said.

“When he came here, he hit the ground sprinting – not running,” McQuaid said.