UF alumna Jane Sun contributes $1.8 million to UF Law
A major gift will strengthen the global focus of UF Law by bringing top Chinese students to campus and placing UF Law students in Chinese companies. The $3 million gift from business executive Jane Sun to the UF Levin College of Law and the Warrington College of Business includes $1.8 million for the law school. The money will be used to provide scholarships to students from China seeking to study at UF and to support UF student externships in China.
“The University of Florida can be a leader in helping students and businesses understand how to navigate the Chinese business community,” said Sun, a 1992 UF accounting graduate who is co-president and chief operating officer of CTrip.com, China’s leading travel services company. “Hopefully the relationship with UF will provide real world experience to complement the first class education UF students are receiving in the classroom. The relationship between the U.S. and China has tremendous potential as long as communication continues. The University of Florida can play an important role in building this global partnership.”
UF President Kent Fuchs is promoting a greater role for the university on the world stage. He called Sun’s gift a major step in that direction.
“We strive to give our students both the educational foundation and the practical experience they need to succeed in a globalized economy,” Fuchs said. “Jane Sun’s generous gift will do a great deal to further those goals for UF law and business students pursuing work or careers in China, and they stand to benefit tremendously from those opportunities.”
UF Law Dean Laura A. Rosenbury, Levin, Mabie & Levin Professor of Law, emphasized the importance of the gift for UF Law.
“This scholarship fund will enable us to build relationships with the very top law schools in China,” Rosenbury said. “We are thrilled at the prospect of having more students from China in our LL.M. and J.D. programs, and we are very excited that more of our existing J.D. students will be able to spend time in China exploring the intersection of law and business in a global context. This is a vital part of our strategy to raise UF’s international profile.”
UF Law Professors Wentong Zheng and D. Daniel Sokol already research Chinese law and regulatory and trade topics. Each also has relationships with faculty from Chinese law schools. Zheng, a China native, has written articles and done work with the U.S. government on Chinese state capitalism. Sokol has written articles on China’s antitrust law and trains Chinese judges.
“This gift allows us to be more ambitious in expanding our global footprint in research, teaching and policy initiatives,” Sokol said. “It strengthens UF’s ability to compete with schools that have more established international programs, which greatly benefits our students.”
China has the second-largest economy behind the U.S, and its rapid growth makes it an ever-growing player in the global economy and the future practice of law. Sokol said U.S. businesses find themselves interacting with Chinese companies in matters involving competition (antitrust) law, intellectual property, foreign contracts and intellectual arbitration and litigation.
This reality is motivating UF Law to strengthen its international programs, and Sun’s gift is making that possible. UF Law students will be immersed in Chinese companies, giving them practical experience in international markets. Meanwhile, more students will be recruited to UF Law from China.
“Expanding ( these programs) will open our students’ eyes to an increasing global community and create a cultural understanding before they even leave law school, leading to richer experiences and higher cultural competency for our students when they begin to practice,” Sokol said.
Experts say growing globalization requires that even lawyers practicing exclusively in the United States need to be familiar with the basics of foreign law.
“Lawyers in our increasingly globalized world need not only to know about the technical legal systems in other countries,” said Jack Bierley (JD 63). “But even more importantly, they need to know the mentality of the people that they are dealing with in another country or jurisdiction and how these people would interpret laws; the way they would observe them.”
Bierley and wife Tifi have endowed a scholarship similar to Sun’s. The Jack and Tifi Bierley International Law Scholarship helps UF Law students prepare for international law careers by offsetting overseas travel expenses.
Bierley, a life member of the UF Foundation who has practiced international law for 53 years, praised the international emphasis of UF President Fuchs and Dean Rosenbury. He said Sun’s gift lays the groundwork for understanding Chinese legal attitudes.
Professor Zheng pointed to similar benefits of Sun’s gift.
“We want to prepare our students not just to graduate, but to excel in their professions, so that they feel ready to enter the law field and take what they have learned to every corner of the world,” Zheng said. “Knowledge about how law works in countries like China is crucial for legal counseling and advocacy in today’s globalized world.”
What goes around…
Connections with UF Law faculty blossom into gift
With husband John Wu, Jane Sun has given a combined $3 million to UF Law and the UF Warrington College of Business Administration.
So why would a UF accounting graduate and international business executive give $l.8 million to UF Law?
For Jane Sun, it was the close relationship she formed with mentor Nancy Baldwin (JD 93), Nancy’s husband, UF Law Professor Fletcher Baldwin, and UF Law Professor Joe Little that inspired her to give to the UF Levin College of Law.
Today, Sun is co-president and chief operating officer of China’s leading travel services company, CTrip.com. But back in 1988, she was a college student assigned to translate for UF Law Professor Joe Little during his stint as a visiting professor at the University of Beijing.
After Little returned to the U.S., Sun came to Gainesville in 1989 at the age of 20 and was admitted to a UF Law summer program, Introduction to American Law, directed by Professor Fletcher Baldwin and Nancy Baldwin. The program was designed to help lawyers throughout the world understand U.S. law.
During two consecutive summers in the program, Sun lived in a dorm alongside other international law students studying in the Introduction to American Law program.
“Her summers in the dorm are where she started to develop a sense of international education,” said Nancy Baldwin. “Her sense of the necessary action between countries and students came from that time and interaction with all of the international students.”
Sun, also known as Sun Jie and “Sunny,” continued her education at UF and lived with the Baldwins for part of that time. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1992.
Nancy Baldwin, whom Sun considers a mother figure, noted that Sun also worked in the UF Law library during college.
“I’m not surprised Sun Jie would give such a donation. She loved the law school,” Nancy Baldwin said.
“Honoring Professor Little and the Baldwins was the reason for the gift,” Sun said. “I hope that it will empower UF to recruit the best students in China, essentially creating a stronger presence for UF in the minds of students, universities and business.”
UF Law’s portion of the gift creates The Baldwin, Little, Sun and Wu Sunshine Scholarship. The scholarship opens the door for conversations between students from UF and China while creating opportunities for young entrepreneurs.