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College of Arts and Sciences

Government alumnus’s gift boosts program related to U.S.-China relations

By: Kathy Hovis,  A&S Communications
June 20, 2019

The Levinsons with studentsA $10 million alumni gift will expand opportunities for Cornell students to study and explore the China and Asia-Pacific region and its global impacts.

The new Brittany and Adam J. Levinson ’92 China and Asia-Pacific Studies Program (CAPS) was dedicated May 5 on campus. Housed within the government department in the College of Arts & Sciences, the program offers courses, language training, internships and experiences for students internationally and in Washington, D.C.

“I believe that we have started a new era in U.S.-China relations, an era of strategic rivalry,” Adam Levinson said. “So the CAPS program is more valuable for students than ever.”

“There is more room than perhaps ever before to help contribute to the emerging dynamic,” said Allen Carlson, associate professor of government, Michael J. Zak Chair of History for U.S.-China Relations and director of CAPS, “either via navigating through a prolonged downturn in U.S.-China relations, or, more hopefully, through helping to put the relationship back upon sounder footing.”

Adam Levinson, a government major, is the founder, managing partner and chief investment officer of Graticule Asset Management Asia (GAMA), an independently owned Singapore-based alternative investment management firm. Previously, he was a principal of Fortress and the CIO and founder of the Fortress Asia Macro Fund, Co-CIO of the Fortress Macro Funds and CEO of Fortress Investment Group (Singapore). He is also the co-founder of Revolution Enterprises, a vertically integrated multi-state operating commercial cannabis company. Levinson is also the founder of the non-profit Detroit Children’s Fund focused on improving education outcomes in Detroit.  

Brittany Levinson holds a bachelor of science degree in textile and fashion design from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.  She started her career in New York City as a product developer for Yue-Sai Kan, a Chinese television host, entrepreneur and bestselling author. She then worked as a creative director for The Knot.com and is now a freelance graphic illustrator.

While he was an undergraduate at Cornell, most of the classes Adam Levinson gravitated toward were in the departments of Asian studies, government and economics, but he also took quite a few courses in history and literature.

After graduation, he accepted a job at Goldman Sachs and was soon offered a position at the company’s Hong Kong office – a place few others were drawn to in those days. “I had a natural self-directed interest in a lot of things that were going on in Asia at the time,” said Levinson, who grew up in Detroit and witnessed the “hollowing out” of the auto industry as a result of the rising popularity of Japanese carmakers.

The Levinson gift will give students expanded opportunities to study U.S.-China relations, policies, economics and business. It is also a valuable component of Cornell’s global reach and plays an important role in providing experiences for students in Asia.

The CAPS program was founded in 2005 and has 34 affiliated faculty. Since its inception, 120 students have completed the CAPS major or minor.

The Levinsons with President Martha Pollack and Dean Ray JayawardhanaCAPS alumni are in PhD programs at Harvard and USCD, working for the State Department and in think tanks throughout Washington D.C., running successful startups in Beijing, working with investment banks, consulting, working with the National Youth Orchestra of China, and scaling new routes on cliffs in southern China, Carlson said.

“This will be the most important bilateral relationship the U.S. needs to manage for the next two generations, at least,” Adam Levinson said, adding that Cornell’s program is strengthened by its preeminent Asian studies collection and its strong academic programs in both Asian studies and government. “Just sounding the alarm on China will not be enough. We will miss out on a lot of opportunities if we don’t develop a much more creative, compelling and interesting strategy for managing this relationship.”