July 14, 2004

Lehman Finishes Asia Tour

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MUMBAI, India — President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77 ended his 18-day tour of Asia on July 9 with an alumni and parents banquet event here to call for further collaboration between Cornell and leading research institutions in China and India.

In his first visit to India as Cornell’s president, Lehman met with Ratan Tata ’62, the chair of India’s largest industrial group, Tata Sons Ltd., and Cornell trustee Narayana Murthy, the chief mentor and founder of Infosys, one of India’s leading information technology firms.

Lehman said his decision to visit India and China was prompted by his desire to extend Cornell’s ties to the two fastest-developing countries in the world.

“Imagine the world of 2050 outside of the United States: Where are the dynamic cultural and academic centers of the world going to be?” he said. “The consensus among very thoughtful people is India and China.”

Lehman met with scholars to discuss possible future collaborations with academic leaders and businesspeople. The scholars were largely interested in agriculture, nanotechnology and sustainable technologies such as biodiesel. Lehman did not announce any new initiatives but added, “This is a first visit, not a last visit.”

Earlier in the trip, he visited the Infosys campus in Bangalore and the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Introducing Lehman at the banquet, Murthy said that he was so impressed after reading a speech Lehman gave in July last year that he e-mailed the president and received a response within 24 hours.

“Busy people,” Murthy said, “make time.”

Lehman addressed the audience about his vision for the “transnational University.” With 297 students from India currently attending, India is the fourth-largest source of international students to Cornell. Canada is first, China is second and Korea is third, according to the Cornell News Service.

“I have been profoundly impressed on many levels. It is only when one is physically here that one appreciates the extraordinary complexity of the society, the great cultural richness that fuels that complexity and the quality of research being conducted,” Lehman said.

Lehman was accompanied by his wife Kathy Okun; Mumbai native Porus Olpadwala, former dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning; Inge Reichenbach, vice president for alumni affairs and development; and Thomas Bruce, vice president for communications and media relations.

Archived article by Peter Norlander
Sun Senior Editor