Our friends at the Olin College of Engineering in Needham, MA, describe the process of creating a new university as “designing the airplane while flying it.” It’s been a long runway, but FUV’s now airborne. And the hard work is just beginning.
For the past several years we’ve focused on achieving to critical preconditions. In Vietnam, we’ve engaged with the Vietnamese government to ensure that FUV can operate with a robust level of autonomy and academic freedom necessary. In the US, we have worked with our partners and supporters in Washington to mobilize an initial level of funding needed to go forward. Our pursuit of permission and investment came together in May when President Obama announced FUV to the world.
We’re now pivoted to focus on designing the airplane. At the moment we’re pursuing four inter-related work streams:
Business planning: We’ve partnered with the Boston Consulting Group to design a “proof of concept” for a nonprofit, financially sustainable university that is committed to serving the broadest possible socioeconomic demographic of academically qualified Vietnamese students.
Academic design: We’ve assembling a team of educational innovators and experts to help redesign the activities of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program—now the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management–and design the undergraduate program in engineering and the liberal arts and sciences. FUV aims to offer its first new public policy programs in 2017. We plan to launch the undergraduate program in 2018.
Campus design: Thanks to FUV’s supporters in Ho Chi Minh City, than 60 acres of land have been contributed to FUV. FUV’s flagship campus will be built in the Saigon High Tech Park in District 9. We also hope to establish an initial facility in District 7. In February 2017 we will announce the selection of an architectural firm that will design the campus master plan and initial facilities.
Fundraising: FUV will only succeed if it can operate on a financially sustainable basis. But the start-up costs of creating a new university—even one that is laser-focused on keeping costs as low as possible—are significant. Without the regulatory and approval process behind us, TUIV and FUV are seeking philanthropic partnerships to ensure we can provide need-based financial assistance and invest in the hard and soft infrastructure necessary to provide a world-class educational experience.