An International Connection: How Yale Law Landed a Big $30 Million Gift

Whether it's Chinese language courses in elementary schools or Hollywood producing films with the Chinese market in mind, the Western world has its eye toward China. Academia and policy institutions are following suit. Consider that massive give by private equity billionaire Stephen Schwarzman a few years ago to help emerging U.S. leaders better understand China. 

Yale Law School's China Center is another example. Founded in 1999, the center is dedicated to helping advance China’s legal reforms, improving U.S.–China relations, and increasing understanding of China. The center recently received a major boost in funds from Yale alumnus Joseph C. Tsai, who gave a $30 million gift to Yale's internationally focused center. The center will be renamed in honor of Tsai's late father, Paul, who was the first Yale Law graduate from Taiwan. 

Paul Tsai was a pioneering figure in Asia. After graduating from Yale Law in 1957, Paul returned to Taiwan where he served in such high-ranking governmental roles as general counsel of the Foreign Exchange & Trade Commission, general counsel of the Council for United States Aid, and counsellor of the Council for International Economic Cooperation and Development. In these roles, Paul advanced his country's economic growth and integration into the international economy. Paul, with his father, also established a private law firm, whose multinational portfolio included Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and Sheraton Hotels.

Paul also was an active philanthropist in life, and despite his active international dealings, focused some of his giving on Yale. He endowed the Myres S. McDougal Professorship at Yale Law School, in honor of his mentor when he was a student, as well as the Paul C. Tsai Professorial Lectureship at Yale Law School. Joseph Tsai has continued in his father's footsteps. After graduating from Yale Law and working in New York for a time, Tsai moved to Hong Kong for a career in investment management and currently works for the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group.

Tsai speaks to the strong influence his father had on him: "Through his intelligence, wisdom, and wit, my father was an inspiration and role model to me... Today, as I think about giving back to an institution that represents the confluence of experiences that shaped who I am, I can’t think of a better initiative than the China Center at Yale Law School."