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Dear cherished friends of Fulbright University Vietnam,
In this very first letter of the Year of the Tiger, I would like to begin with wonderful news. On February 25, Fulbright University Vietnam was honored to receive a gift of USD 40 million from 8 philanthropists and their families, our inaugural members of Fulbright’s Founders Circle. This commitment highlights one of the largest philanthropic gifts to a higher education institution in Vietnam and will support the first phase construction of Fulbright’s flagship campus in Saigon High-tech Park, Ho Chi Minh City. This first phase of our flagship campus is expected to be completed at the end of 2023 and welcome up to 1,500 students.
Philanthropic giving, especially towards education, is still a new concept in Vietnam. That is why this momentous gift is even more meaningful. It not only helps realize Fulbright’s bold dream of building Vietnam’s first-ever green campus – a permanent home for future change-makers but also inspires more philanthropic giving in Vietnam, especially towards education. A gift towards education is a gift that keeps giving. It changes not only the lives of students themselves but also our community at large. As the beneficiary of this meaningful gift, we understand our full responsibility to make it grow in its impact and foster a “pay it forward” culture, benefiting generations of future leaders.
This momentous gift was announced together with the visit of the U.S. President’s Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry to Fulbright. As a veteran senator, Mr. Kerry has been playing a pivotal role in the normalization of the two former adversaries as well as the establishment of Fulbright University Vietnam. Fulbright represents the tireless effort from both governments and their people to close this chapter of our past and head towards a brighter future together. Such a future requires universities, such as Fulbright, to step up and find solutions for the grand challenges that the world is facing, such as climate change. That was also the key message that Secretary Kerry shared with our students at the fireside chat.
My dear friends,
To create this positive impact – as expected by Secretary Kerry and our supporters, it is required of Fulbright to integrate globally but be deeply rooted in the Vietnamese context in all of our teaching and learning activities, research, and other initiatives. Only by truly understanding Vietnam can we solve the challenges Vietnam is facing. That is why our liberal arts and engineering model at Fulbright does not only focus on the interdisciplinary majors but also requires students to have extensive knowledge of the Vietnamese culture, society, and history. At Fulbright, we offer unique courses, such as our “Ethics in Practice” course. The course encompasses general ethics and digs deeper into how to nurture ethics in empathy and mutual understanding through critical analysis and flexibility in real-life contexts.
At Fulbright, our students do not just come to learn important things. We want them to also be able to do important things, learn to empathize and work with others, all while living purposeful, fulfilling lives.
This “public service” spirit is demonstrated clearly when a group of researchers from the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM) – led by its Dean, Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh, recently completed a proposal of economic development strategies for Hau Giang Province during 2021-2030. FSPPM also just wrapped up the first phase of the Citizen-Powered Innovation Initiative (CPII), launched by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The project aims to identify, promote and accelerate local initiatives that are committed by top leadership to solve citizen-identified problems and will be implemented transparently to mobilize public action and inform broad-based learning.
My dear friends,
Fulbright has achieved significant milestones within the six years of our establishment. Yet, we are still a long way from realizing our vision. On our quest to reimagine higher education in Vietnam — for students, for Vietnam, for the future, we ask for your help in whichever shape and form. We cannot do this alone, but I sincerely believe that together, we will create this invaluable intellectual impact for Vietnam, and the future.
Sending my very best,
Dam Bich Thuy
President, Fulbright University Vietnam