Beijing Normal University Dean and Professor to be honored for commitment to social justice in China
School of Social Welfare alumna Xiulan Zhang (PhD ’99) has been selected as the recipient of this year’s UC Berkeley Elise and Walter A. Haas International Award. This extremely prestigious annual honor recognizes alumni who are citizens of nations other than the United States with distinguished records of service to their respective countries.
Dr. Zhang established Beijing Normal University’s Institute of Social Development and Public Policy in 1999, following the completion of her Berkeley Social Welfare doctoral degree and return to China. The Institute has since evolved into the School of Social Development and Public Policy (SSDPP) and is one of the country’s most influential research centers and think tanks focused on developing social service policy. She currently serves as dean of the School.
Dr. Zhang's service includes membership on the Academic Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Academic Advisory Committee of the National Aging Association. She is also the director of the Social Safety Net Research Base of the Ministry of Education and the vice president of the National Social Policy Association in China. She was recently appointed to the Beijing Political Consultation Committee.
Dr. Zhang also recently launched a new initiative in partnership with 50 Chinese corporations, which will employ new social workers to provide support services for the country’s vast population of teenage “migrant” workers (individuals who have left their rural homes seeking jobs in urban centers). Additionally, she has established the China Fellowship Program, which seeks to promote social justice through leadership training programs serving China’s ethnic minorities, the working poor and women.
“This is a great honor that I didn't anticipate when I returned to China in 1999 with the dream of ‘building the largest welfare state in the world,’” Dr. Zhang noted in accepting her Haas International Award. “This award will be a milestone for my life and also an encouragement for me to continue the effort of promoting social justice and social welfare in China. I humbly accept the award because it represents the years of high-quality education and the value instilled in me by the School of Social Welfare, the hard-working days and nights of my colleagues and the support of my husband and my daughter.”
Dr. Zhang will be honored on the UC Berkeley campus at an afternoon event hosted by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau on May 17 and during commencement ceremonies on May 18. The Haas International Award includes a cash prize of $15,000 and an engraved medallion.
Dr. Zhang is the second graduate of the School of Social Welfare to be bestowed the Haas International Award. Cambodian human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Mu Sochua (MSW ’81) recieved the 2006 Haas International Award.