2010 Archives

$2 million in gifts to benefit Chinese students


The following is from a Bob Miller column published in the May 28, 2010, edition of The Dallas Morning News.

May 28, 2010

Two gifts totaling $2 million will provide scholarships at  Southern Methodist University for outstanding students from China.

A gift of $1 million from Helmut Sohmen of Hong Kong, alumnus of SMU's Dedman School of Law and a university trustee, will continue the endowed scholarship program he established for Chinese lawyers to study at the Dedman School of Law.

Sohmen is chairman of the BW Group of companies, one of the world's largest privately owned shipping fleets.

And a $1 million gift from the Barachel Foundation of Dallas will establish a scholarship fund to enable Chinese undergraduate students to attend SMU.

"Providing leadership for a global society is critical, and these gifts will help advance SMU's goal to educate international leaders," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "Enabling students from around the world to study and share ideas together benefits all students – those from other countries as well as those from the United States."

Sohmen created the Sohmen Chinese Scholars Program in 1998 with a $250,000 gift. He endowed the program with an additional $2 million in 2001, and the Dedman Foundation provided $2 million in matching funds for the Chinese Scholars Program endowment.

In 2008, Sohmen contributed an additional $1 million to the endowment. With the most recent $1 million gift, the amount contributed to the endowment stands at $6.25 million.

The Sohmen program provides scholarships covering tuition, fees and living stipends for Chinese lawyers pursuing master of law degrees in comparative and international law at the Dedman School of Law. The program has graduated more than 1,500 lawyers from 80 countries.

"As China assumes increasing leadership in world affairs, the education of Chinese lawyers with an international perspective is more important than ever before," Sohmen said. "The Dedman School of Law has filled an important role in educating international lawyers through its LL.M. program for more than 50 years. My goal for the Chinese Scholars Program is to give outstanding Chinese lawyers opportunities to broaden their legal knowledge and their understanding of other cultures through study with lawyers from around the world."

John Attanasio, the Judge James Noel Dean of the Dedman School of Law, said: "Helmut Sohmen is an outstanding example of SMU law alumni who are influential leaders in Asia. We are very proud of him and other law school graduates who hold key positions in their countries."

The $1 million gift from the Barachel Foundation will provide scholarships for outstanding Chinese undergraduate students who come primarily from rural areas of China. The goal of the Barachel Foundation Scholarship Fund at SMU is to educate Chinese leaders who will make important contributions to the future of their country.

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