Cling Family Distinguished Fellow in U.S.-China Studies
Georgetown affected Michael Cling (F’98) in profound ways, so when he and his wife, Janet Cling, found themselves in a position to give, they chose the School of Foreign Service (SFS).
“I look back on my time at Georgetown as having provided the foundation for making me a life- long learner and someone with a more global perspective,” says Michael Cling. “This has been a tremendous asset in helping me throughout my professional career.”
Michael and Janet feel strongly that the SFS should have a world-class China Studies department. “We believe it is critical to the university and wanted to allocate resources to it,” Michael Cling explains.
“The U.S.-China relationship will dominate foreign affairs for the next 25–50 years or more. We believe it is vital to close the critical gaps in understanding that exist between the two cultures and governments.”
Their belief is grounded in Janet’s personal story of emigrating from China to the U.S. at age 10.
“Having grown up both in the United States and China, I can appreciate why the U.S.-China relationship seems to tend toward suspicion and mistrust,” says Janet Cling. “Much of this is a result of significant gaps in our understanding the other side’s culture and history. We believe that it is only by improving this understanding between our respective cultures and systems of government that we might ensure a mutually beneficial path forward.”
“Given the duality for our American as well as Chinese heritage, it is important to our family to give back in order to help cross-cultural understanding between the two nations,” adds Michael Cling.
“The U.S.-China relationship will dominate foreign affairs for the next 25–50 years or more.”
In order to accomplish these goals, the family established the Cling Family Distinguished Fellow in U.S.-China Studies, which attracted Evan Medeiros to Georgetown.
Medeiros was invited to Georgetown by Victor Cha, the D.S. Song-Korea Foundation Chair of Korean Studies in the Department of Government and SFS, and a member of the faculty committee for the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues. Cha approached Medeiros with an offer of the Cling Fellowship to teach a four-part course for Georgetown students that branched out from a purely scholarly perspective.
“Victor said ‘You’ve been in the room, and seen decisions being made’,” Medeiros recalls. “So we built a mini-course. When that was a positive experience, it led us to talk about something more permanent.”
After the course ended, the SFS approached Medeiros about the possibility of a longer term position at Georgetown, which he accepted.
Thanks to the doorway that the Cling Family Distinguished Fellow in U.S.-China Studies opened, Medeiros now serves as the Penner Family Chair in Asian Studies, the Cling Family Distinguished Fellow in U.S.-China Studies, and a full-time professor of Practice at SFS and the Asian Studies Program, where he will teach both undergraduate and graduate students. Although SFS does offer stand-alone courses on China’s history and contemporary impact on geopolitics, this is the school’s first major effort to become a center of expertise on China. Medeiros says he wants to create a series of classes that broaden the Georgetown community’s understanding of China’s rise and impact on the world.
The Clings are thrilled with Medeiros’ plans to increase cross-cultural understanding.
“We couldn’t be happier,” says Michael Cling. “We have incredibly high hopes and expectations for what he’ll do to build a world-class program.”