Cornell University recently announced its collaboration with Vingroup, a Vietnamese enterprise and property developer, on the VinUniversity Project to develop a university in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Vingroup’s mission for the project is to build a new world-class private educational institution, that will benefit both key industries and markets in Vietnam, as well as the knowledge-based economy internationally.
“Vietnam is a fast-growing economy with a very young population,” said William W. Huling Jr., the external relations director for the Cornell SC Johnson School of Business and Cornell-VinUniversity project director.
“There is a growing need for world-class educational institutions in the country. By establishing VinUniversity, Vingroup is taking a leading role in contributing to the needs and interests of the citizens of Vietnam,” he added.
Cornellians involved believe the project also benefits the University because public engagement is central to carrying on Ezra Cornell’s founding vision of “any person any study.”
Rohit Verma, dean of external relations for the business school said this collaboration provides Cornell “the unique opportunity to participate in the creation of a new university, and extend its public engagement mission internationally.”
“Cornell is the first major U.S. university to take the leading role in shaping higher-education in this fast-growing region of the world,” Verma said. “This partnership also brings new resources to Cornell that can be used to strengthen our current program offerings in Ithaca.”
VinUniversity will begin faculty recruitment during this spring. The business school will provide the project with faculty and curriculum resources, specifically in engineering and business, wherever necessary.
“We have a team of highly capable and reputable faculty experts from the College of Business and the College of Engineering who are taking key leadership consulting roles to help this university come to life,” Huling said.
According to Huling, Vingroup considered several top U.S. universities in 2016 as potential collaborators. Vingroup’s delegation came to Ithaca, to visit what was at the time the Cornell College of Business, and met with the University’s administration. Following the visit, Cornell organized an executive education program for Vingroup executives in Spring 2017.
“These early engagements allowed each organization to get to know the strengths and capabilities of each other, and led Vingroup to select Cornell’s SC Johnson College as their strategic collaborator and advisor,” Huling said.
Cornell has a multi-year consulting contract for the project and is providing extensive advisement on everything from construction to academics — both from Ithaca and on-site in Hanoi. Cornellian expertise will be used for infrastructure and campus, design, budgeting and finance, and faculty and administration recruitment.
“The objective of the Cornell-VinUniversity Project is to successfully launch this new university in Hanoi, and to help it become an outstanding, highly reputable teaching and research university,” said Huling. “This means recommending strategies and assisting them in the implementation required to guide VinUniversity on a path of international accreditation and recognition.”
The project also brought on a Vietnamese hotel school graduate Thao Ly Bui Tran ’12 as assistant director. Huling said that “her knowledge of the language and the culture has proved to be an invaluable asset to the project.”
“We are basically involved in every aspect of capacity building phase of the project including reviewing campus plans, advising on organizational structure and governance, marketing and admissions strategy, student affairs and external affairs, curriculum development and even advising on faculty hiring, and performance evaluation,” Tran said.
Project leaders aim for VinUniversity to meet QS 5-star rating standards, the highest rank granted to universities internationally by the British education company Quacquarelli Symonds.
Five-star universities are generally world-class and highly reputable across disciplines, and are renowned for their facilities, research, professors, and internationalization, according to the QS World University Rankings website.
VinUniversity administrators aim to enroll up to 300 students in the university’s inaugural class in the fall of 2020, according to the Cornell Chronicle.
Enrolled students will take courses taught in English about business, technology and health policy, with varying courses required for different degrees. VinUniversity plans to include separate schools in business, hospitality, real estate, engineering and technology, general education, public health and health services, nursing, and medicine.
The official inauguration of the VinUniversity project will be held on April 3 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Several Cornell faculty and administrators — including interim business college dean L. Joseph Thomas, vice provost Judy Appleton — who have played a key role in the collaboration, will be in attendance. All Cornell alumni who are based in Vietnam will be invited to attend and to get involved.
“It is our hope that our relationship will be long-term, even though the current agreement is for the next 6.5 years until the first batch of students graduate from VinUniversity,” Huling said. “As VinUniversity becomes more established, other opportunities for faculty research collaborations, and maybe even opportunities for Cornell student internships and visits to Hanoi, may develop.”