This past April, Su Ge, who received his MA in American studies from the Kennedy Center and PhD in American history with a minor in international relations from BYU in 1984 and 1987, respectively, returned to campus to receive a doctorate of international leadership, honoris causa. Ge stopped by the Kennedy Center, where Cory Leonard interviewed him for this special issue of Bridges Alumni Magazine. He currently serves in an academic post as president of the China Institute of International Studies.
Welcome back to Provo, a place you already know well.
Thank you very much. It is an honor to be back on campus—
a place that reminds me of Qinghai Province, in China’s northwest, where I grew up, due to its distinctive environment and beautiful natural setting. I have many fond memories of my time living and studying in Utah.
Your experiences in higher education, diplomacy, and policy have been notable. How have you approached thinking about your career path?
My aim has been to study first and then to render services to society, just like the BYU motto says: “Enter to learn; go forth to serve.” Before anything else, however, it seems to me that one needs to be a good person, to be righteous and upright. In my case, I have tried to do every job with all my heart and with full dedication.
Why did you first come to Utah?
In 1982, I came to Brigham Young University as a visiting scholar. I taught Chinese at the College of Humanities. A year later, I wished to pursue graduate studies at the Kennedy Center and became one of the first students to receive a scholarship here from the People’s Republic of China following the normalization of U.S.–China diplomatic relations. BYU is my alma mater, or what we call the “mother school” in Chinese.
“One should keep a moral bottom line in life and professional standards at work.”
Your daughter is also a Kennedy Center graduate?
Yes, my wife, Li Jing, and my daughter, Su Jin, joined me in Provo when I was studying for my degrees. After I had completed a postdoctoral appointment at Harvard University, the whole family returned to China in 1988. I taught as a professor at the Foreign Affairs College in Beijing. Later Su Jin grew up and wanted to study at BYU. She eventually graduated in 2002 from the Kennedy Center with a degree in international studies and an emphasis in global economy. So you can say that we are all proud Cougars and students of international affairs.