Posted by: Louis Lavelle on January 12, 2010
No good deed ever goes unpunished. On Jan. 4, the Yale School of Management announced a pledge of $8,888,888 it received from a Chinese investor (and Yale alumnus) Lei Zhang to help build the new b-school campus. Eight is considered a lucky number in China, but it turned out to be unlucky for the generous donor, who is coming under fire in China.
Agence France-Presse is reporting that the donation has sparked a backlash in China, where some are criticizing Zhang for not giving the money to a Chinese school. Zhang, who attended Renmin University in Beijing before he went to Yale, was called “scum, trash, dog feces, traitor,” by one commenter on the web site of the Global Times newspaper.
Zhang, who says he gave the money to Yale because it changed his life, had his defenders, too—web postings and Chinese media commentaries said Chinese universities weren’t worthy of such generosity.
It all raises an interesting question: do alumni owe a debt of gratitude (or cash) to their home countries for having given them their start? Who has the bigger claim on alumni wallets: the undergraduate or graduate institution? Thoughts?