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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

Shanghai Welcome Reception for the Georgetown University Men's Basketball Team

Consulate General of the United States
Shanghai, China
August 19, 2011

Thank you for that kind introduction, (Acting) Consul General (Christopher) Wurzel, and for hosting us today in this beautiful and historic space. There could be no better welcome for our traveling party to Shanghai, and I know that I speak for all of us – the members of our Georgetown University community; the Coach of our men’s basketball team, John Thompson III; and, of course, our young men, our students, who play for our Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team – when I communicate our deepest thanks.

This trip to China marks the first international experience for our men’s basketball team under Coach Thompson. Yet our men’s basketball program has shared in our tradition of understanding and connecting with nations and cultures beyond our own for many years. The program’s first travels abroad in fact were taken under John’s father, Coach John Thompson, Jr., in the fall of 1976. When asked by The Washington Post just prior to the team’s departure what had motivated him to take the Hoyas abroad, Coach Thompson replied that he saw tremendous value in teaching his players, “to give importance to how other people live.”

We came this week to China with three goals: (1) to engage in an intercultural exchange – one that provides the members of our men’s basketball team the opportunity to see this country which plays such an important role in our world today; (2) to share this experience of the depth of our university’s engagement in this country with our alumni and friends; (3) to provide an opportunity for our university community – this delegation – to contribute in a people-to-people exchange that will advance the cause of mutual understanding between our two countries.

We came here with some work to do, and we are now here in Shanghai to continue this work. Our men’s basketball program has served as a public face of Georgetown University for more than two generations. The deepest values that capture the character of our community – integrity, a commitment to excellence, the blending together of talents to produce something extraordinary – these have been the hallmarks of Georgetown basketball. 

Our men’s basketball program represents the very best of Georgetown, and the character of our program was evident this morning when our coach John Thompson III and two of our young men, Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson, met with the head coach and counterparts from the Bayi Rockets, the team we played last night in Beijing. We regret that last night’s game ended as it did. I am proud of the manner in which we sought reconciliation through the sportsmanship demonstrated this morning. 

Here in Shanghai we look forward to continuing our work.

Today, there are over 130 different countries represented on our campus. We also have nearly 250 partnerships with universities and other organizations throughout the world. Twenty-seven of these partnerships are in China – the second highest number of any nation.  Over half of our undergraduates study abroad. In the past five years the number of undergraduates studying in China has increased five-fold. 

Georgetown has always had an international character, and today we are wrestling with a new challenge – what does it mean to be a global university. We live in a world shaped by that convergence of forces we have come to know as “globalization”: new technologies, new modes of communication, new means of transportation, new ways of connecting. It is largely because of these forces that we are all standing in this room together today. 

Globalization has required leading universities around the world to look deep inside ourselves to understand our roles and responsibilities as places of learning and truth in this new global environment.

Globalization is almost always described in purely economic – in financial and market terms. A key role for our universities must be to support a broader conception of globalization.

There are Latin words that span the wall in Gaston Hall, back on the Hilltop, that guide our university.  These words read: “Ad majorem Dei gloriam, inque hominum salutem.”   Ad majorem Dei gloriam are words familiar to many of you. You might be more familiar with the initials AMDG.  This is the motto of the Jesuits – Ad majorem Dei gloriam – for the greater glory of God. All of our work in the Jesuit tradition is for God’s greater glory. And at Georgetown, right there on the wall in Gaston – are these additional Latin words, inque hominum salutem, for the salvation of humankind. 

As a university community committed to our Catholic and Jesuit identity, Georgetown has a distinctive challenge. We need to do our part to expand our understanding of globalization – to move beyond strictly financial and market terms – and to ensure that we harness these forces for the betterment of human kind.

This comes out of a deep commitment to our ethos…our characteristic spirit, one that informs and shapes our actions within this global context.   

It is this approach – and this perspective – that has guided our work here in China. From the study abroad opportunities we offer our students – in fields like international business and global health, to programs that deepen competency in language and a grasp of Chinese culture – to our partnerships and dialogues with leading Chinese universities such as Renmin, Xiamen and Tsinghua. 

Here in Shanghai Georgetown has had an office for nearly five years through our partnership with Fudan University, one of the great universities in our world.  

We provide, through our executive training engagements, an opportunity to share knowledge and experience with emerging leaders in China. Our cooperative agreements with leading ministries of the government create opportunities both to define Georgetown’s unique identity as a global university, and to deepen our ties with a nation that rests at the center of our increasingly networked, globalized world.

We are grateful in these efforts to have tremendous support from the U.S. government. We certainly felt the depth of that support on Wednesday evening when Vice President Biden and Ambassador Locke joined us for our opening friendship game. We have partnered with a wide range of U.S. government agencies on a series of successful international exchange initiatives, including the Scholarships for Education and Economic Development or SEED program, the European Student Leaders Institute on Innovation program, and the English Language Fellows or ELF program, among others. We look forward to supporting President Obama’s 100,000 Strong Initiative, and ongoing efforts toward people to people exchange. 

SEED, ELF, 100K…we’re not in Washington, but we still can enjoy the acronyms… and express our deepest thanks for these partnerships that help to shape the experiences and perspectives of our young people as they become global citizens and leaders.

I am very pleased we are all here, together, in Shanghai, to continue the work we came to China to do. I am grateful for the solidarity of our community. I am grateful to all of you for your presence, your commitment to Georgetown, and your exceptional support of our young men who represent Georgetown so nobly on the basketball court. And I am grateful to John, to Jason and Hollis, for your leadership, and to your teammates, for everything you mean to our university. 

I hope that many of you will join us over the next several days to watch our Hoyas take part in the Nike Festival of Sport, both as competitors and contributors. This is a special experience for us, and we are very grateful to be here. 

Thank you once again for welcoming us to Shanghai. It is an honor to be here with you this evening. 


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