By Lu Yingzhe
Franklin L. Hagenbeck, the 57th Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, West Point, paid an official visit to Peking University on Tuesday, 24th February 2009. With an entourage of other West Point faculty members and officials, as well as officials from the US Embassy, Lieutenant General Hagenbeck and his wife received a high-level reception by President Zhou Qifeng and Vice President Hai Wen of Peking University. This is the first official visit, since the Superintendent of West Point has assumed office in 2006, to Peking University, the top-famed comprehensive university in China. The lieutenant also gave a speech, on the topic of Leader Development at West Point, to the students and alumni of the BiMBA program under the National School of Development of PKU.
West Point and NSD-PKU have long been strategic partners in MBA education, especially in the field of leadership development program. Faculty members and students from both sides have paid several visits, formal or informal, and have maintained a constructive relationship with each other since 2001.
In his speech to the BiMBA alumni, General Hagenbeck expressed his delight in having a chance to share his views in regard to the leader development program at West Point and the essential meaning of the leadership concept. As is known to all, the West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York and is famous for its motto of Duty, Honor, and Country, which has inspired a whole generation of Americans. Its alumni are collectively referred to as "The Long Gray Line" and its ranks include two American presidents, numerous famous generals, and seventy-four Medal of Honor recipients. Besides, many senior managers and CEOs of top business firms in the US are all West Point graduates. The special emphasis on leadership building has been West Point's tradition and also the main theme of General Hagenbeck's speech.
How can West Point distinguish itself from many of the top US business schools in training real leaders in business as well as in many other areas? The key to its success lies in West Point's notion of developing "leaders of characters". The college not only put much emphasis in providing young cadets with necessary military skills to ensure a smooth adaption to their future army life, but it also strives hard to establish a solid academic background as well as to ensure good physical conditions of the young cadets. There has been a specifically designed, progressive and sequential leadership development program, starting from the 1st to the 4th year of a cadet's life in West Point. It has been proved effective and successful in turning out graduates processing excellent leadership competency and supreme confidence and an indomitable will to win.
The speech has also inspired a heated debate concerning the disciplinary and creative aspects in a leader's characters. And the Cadet Honor Code, which states that "a cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do", has been proved of much ethical values to the present business practices in the prevailing financial crisis. General Hagenbeck has been impressed by the broad vision and open minds of BiMBA students. He told them that there were more and more cadets coming or would be coming to China and Peking University to have cross-culture exchanges. Presently there are 2 cadets studying Chinese here in PKU.