In the fall of 2010, a 90-square-foot office was established in Beijing as the first presence of the University of Notre Dame in Asia. Today, the Beijing Global Gateway, together with the Hong Kong and Mumbai Global Centers, undertakes the critical role of promoting the understanding and facilitating of intellectual exchanges between Notre Dame and Asia. As we review the history, the connections between Notre Dame and the region can retrospect to 70 years ago.
Dr. Gu Yijian
Dr. Gu Yijian ’50 received the Distinguished Notre Dame Alumni Award from Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, president of the University of Notre Dame, on April 2, 2016 for helping Notre Dame establish enduring relationships with China's universities and encouraging many Chinese students to attend Notre Dame since the 1970s. Born in Jiangsu Province on February 1, 1922, Dr. Gu represents the historic ties between Notre Dame and China and the friendship and exchange that has since flourished, not in small part because of Dr. Gu’s love for Notre Dame, and his love for his motherland, China.
When Dr. Gu arrived at Notre Dame in 1948, China had been devastated in the War against Japan and was embroiled in a civil war. Dr. Gu came to Notre Dame to study chemistry after having studied in Hangzhou and Hong Kong. Dr. Gu completed a master’s degree in 1950 and returned to China shortly after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China to help rebuild and modernize China. As Secretary-General of the Chinese Academy of Sciences from 1982 to 1987, he devoted himself to China’s scientific and technologic advancement and international scientific exchange. During this time, he hosted President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh in China, who invited Dr. Gu to be a founding member of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and conferred Dr. Gu with an honorary doctorate of science in 1985.
In May 2014, Dr. Gu traveled to Notre Dame with his wife, Ms. Tian, to visit Rev. Hesburgh one last time. They were able to celebrate their friendship and their shared love for Notre Dame and China. “We hope more Notre Dame students, both in China and the United States, will be inspired by Dr. Gu’s story,” said Rev. Jenkins, and “emboldened by his courage, and reflective upon the virtues of Chinese society, especially the values of reverence and piety.”