Prof. Dr. Le Vu Quan is a Vietnamese scholar who has built his academic career in the U.S. with a wealth of experience and outstanding achievements. He was awarded the Eva Albers Professorship in Economics and served as Director of the International Business Program for several years at Seattle University, USA.
Since the early 2000s, Dr. Le Vu Quan started to return to his homeland to conduct research, teaching, and consulting. He humorously tributed to these projects for nurturing his patience, which were quite rare in American academic environment. Vietnam was the place for him to grow his academic expertise while deeply root it into practicality, all the while contributing to the economic development of his home country.
Fast forward to 15 years later, Dr. Le Vu Quan has returned to Vietnam and dedicated his career here full-time. He is now very excited to lead the YSEALI Academy (Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative) at Fulbright University Vietnam – a project supported by the State Department through U.S. Mission to ASEAN.
Apply State of the Art Academic Knowledge in Real-Life Contexts
The first 24 hours after the YSEALI Academy’s flagship seminar announcement had Dr. Quan on edge. Launched last September, YSEALI Academy is an innovative rendition of the YSEALI program with academic rigor being one of the core pillars. Since its establishment in 2013, YSEALI has grown to a wide network of more than 150,000 active members, in which 30,000 are Vietnamese. The eminent success of this program has bolstered leadership development in Southeast Asia. YSEALI’s signature programs significantly enhanced the knowledge and skills of aspiring leaders in the 10 ASEAN countries and Timor-Leste.
That leaves great challenges for the Director of YSEALI Academy. Rolling out during the social distancing restrictions of Covid-19, the three pioneering seminars will be delivered virtually, which can be both an advantage and a challenge at once. Dr. Le Vu Quan was taken by surprise when the number of applications reached a high three-digit number, just a day after the seminar announcement.
“With YSEALI’s proven credibility, young professionals expect highly of the Academy and that puts a lot of pressure on us. Amidst the pandemic, our seminars also stand a test to YSEALI’s attractiveness, and I was stunned by the number of applications received because we are only selecting 25 fellows. This number excited us so much that we even started to prepare for the next seminar” – Dr. Quan shared.
With the flagship Public Policy seminar on Energy Economics and Policy, Dr. Le Vu Quan and his colleagues at YSEALI Academy show a very clear commitment to academic excellence. YSEALI Academy will focus on specialized academic topics. Accordingly, these seminars will serve as a bridge to converge all YSEALI networks, reinforce connections based on deep expertise, thereby spreading sustainable intra-regional relationships. Topics will be tailored to address challenging issues facing the region such as energy economics and policy, contemporary cybersecurity challenges and opportunities, and fundamentals of startup investing in Southeast Asia. This is the distinguishing difference of YSEALI Academy’s seminars in efforts to bring together young future leaders and ASEAN professionals on common regional issues.
To Dr. Le Vu Quan, this truly plays to his advantage as he is well-versed in research and teaching in international economics, macroeconomics, economic development, as well as entrepreneurship, management, and sustainable development, etc.
Dr. Quan has been pursuing an academic path deeply integrated with practice, from researching to teaching and consulting. He always brings theories into practice, creating an immersive learning environment for students to have hands-on experiences.
This spirit also follows Dr. Quan and will be embedded in YSEALI Academy’s seminars. He plans to bring in top scholars of diverse industries from Europe, America, ASEAN, and Vietnam. Once the coronavirus is under control, the seminars will be delivered in person, and that not only limits to classroom experience but also expands to company and institution visits and field trips, etc.
“The fellows coming to our program are very talented and can be the expert of their own fields already. That puts weights on our shoulders to meet their expectation and create a realistic yet still ensure first-grade academic playing field for these talented young ASEAN leaders. Therefore, when designing these seminars, in addition to the breadth and depth of academia, we also put a great focus on inviting leading industry experts, as their participation would be an indispensable part of the seminars to be engaging and pragmatic. Most importantly, these networks are available for the fellows to utilize, they can directly connect with and learn from these top experts.” – Dr. Le Vu Quan added.
Come back home to Fulbright
Dr. Le Vu Quan was a regular visiting faculty at several universities across Vietnam. He also provided consulting services to businesses, government agencies, NGOs, and multilateral institutions. Fulbright, however, was a special bond. Dr. Quan had twice been a recipient of the Fulbright Scholar. In 2015-2016, he was a Fulbright scholar and a visiting professor at Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP), which was the predecessor of the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM) today. The inception and rapid growth of Fulbright University Vietnam had captured his interest.
“Seeing talented Vietnamese from all over the world huddle up at Fulbright, I was impressed with their commitment to return home and come together for a grand mission,” Dr. Quan expressed.
Coming back to Fulbright after five years, Dr. Quan was welcomed and beneficently supported by his FSPPM colleagues for the YSEALI Academy project. Utilizing the comprehensive ecosystem of Fulbright, YSEALI Academy’s pioneering seminars will be taught by FSPPM’s faculty in collaboration with partners of Fulbright’s Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), Harvard Kennedy School (FSPPM’s long-time strategic partner), regional and international scholars, as well as leading experts in the field of Energy Economics and Policy.
“To me, this is like coming home!” – he exclaimed. Having lived and studied in the U.S. since an early age, Dr. Le Vu Quan was profoundly influenced by the American culture. Hence, Fulbright is an ideal environment to harmonize the diverse Vietnam-U.S. cultural identities within himself.
Returning to Vietnam and contributing to the country’s educational – economic development has become Dr. Quan’s defining milestone. He is now living with his family in the coastal city of Da Nang – where he shared countless memories of when he first came back to Vietnam. Previously, he consulted the University of Da Nang in designing and implementing an advanced engineering program, which modeled after the U.S general education requirements, in conjunction with University of Washington and Seattle University.
He found his calling to return home from the new generation of Vietnamese, those that are leading-edge, ambitious, and thriving in the globalization of knowledge. During his days of teaching in the U.S., he had met many bright Vietnamese students, who could easily measure up to other international and local students. Vietnamese students’ reputation has even preceded them to the point that Dr. Quan’s colleagues, notable professors in the States, always asked to connect with them.
The road ahead is promising with the vision to transform and innovate education, with the opportunity to provide experiential learning in Vietnam, and above all, with the open mindset of this novel generation.
“Experienced many different academic settings, I have realized that learning should not be restricted within the confinements of the four-walled classrooms. Academic excellence does not lay in the big, fancy campus with glamorous buildings. Rather, it can only be achieved through its proof for application to the society” – he explicated.
Dr. Le Vu Quan is eager for new challenges at YSEALI Vietnam. It is indeed an exciting experience to work with young ASEAN professionals.
“Those with great talents and qualities will succeed no matter where they are. But it would be our, the YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam’s, honor to be a milestone to their success. Our current job is to carefully go through all the applications for our flagship seminar. I do not want to miss a brilliant candidate. YSEALI Fellows are cream of the crop and to gather them together, our biggest question is: will we be able to deliver top-notch programs that can quench their thirst for knowledge? The only way to know is to put ourselves and our partners to the test, go above and beyond in creating the first-class experience that they deserve,” he delineated.
Xuân Linh – Bảo Trâm