Elite women’s university for Penang in 2015

Since it’s women’s day, here’s a story about elite women

A private liberal arts university for Asian women, modelled after the elite “Seven Sisters” in the US, is to be built on Penang island, and is expected to enroll its first students in September 2015.

The Penang government is providing a 100-acre site in Balik Pulau on concessionary terms, and the federal government providing financial support to cover at least 10% of total costs.

Called the Asian Women’s Leadership University, it will be a non-profit fully residential college, and enroll students primarily from the Middle East and Asia beginning in September 2015. It is directly modelled after the US private colleges known as the Seven Sisters: Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley.

CNN photo Hillary ClintonSeveral Smith trustees and its president, as well as the presidents of Bennington, Mount Holyoke and Wellesley, are part of the international team heading the project [project details], which includes Malaysia’s Latifah Merican Cheong, of the Securities Commission, an economist and central banker.

The Seven Sisters were chosen by the US State Department for its Women in Public Service project for “a world in which political and civic leadership is at least 50 percent female by 2050”. (US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton attended Bennington before taking a law degree at Yale.)

Efforts are being made to raise RM1 million for the AWLU Malaysian Foundation, with pledges of over RM350,000 already in hand, according to a publicity handout from the project team.

Trustees for the foundation are: Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, vice-chancellor of Universiti Sains; Mohd Sherriff Kassim, former Khazanah Nasional chairman; Siew Yong Gnanalingam, trustee of Nanyang Foundation; Kok Wee Kiat, former MCA vice-president; and Mohaiyani Samsuddin, former stockbroker and merchant banker.

Competition for FLOM U

Asian University for Women logo

The AWLU will be the second university exclusively for Asian women. The first, the Asian University for Women, also a liberal arts college, was set up in Bangladesh in September 2006 and its current enrolment includes students from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. Among its patrons are Unesco directory-general Irina Bokova, former Hong Kong chief secretary Anson Chan, and:

with Marina Mahathir among those in the panel of advisers.