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Li Chengzhang: Steering Tsinghua toward global prominence in business journalism education


Li Chengzhang is the international administrator for the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication and the Global Business Journalism program.
“She is a consummate professional — knowledgeable, approachable, and always prepared.”


Global Business Journalism reporter

Li Chengzhang is a force to be reckoned with. As director of the International Affairs Office in the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication, she is not only a bridge between cultures but also a driving force behind the school’s push for global excellence.

The 34-year-old Sichuan native’s role is multifaceted, encompassing the management of international master's programs and the expansion of global collaborations. This position allows her to "continually engage with and learn from diverse academic perspectives," she says.

Li is not only a bridge between cultures – the Global Business Journalism program she oversees has hosted students from 74 nations – she is a bridge between the journalist students and the university.

Li Chengzhang is the international administrator for the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication and the Global Business Journalism program.
Chengzhang Li (right), with GBJ co-director Rick Dunham, during "hard-hat tour" of the TSJC building during renovations in 2023.

The reason is that she has gone through many of the same experiences as those students when she was a master’s student and teaching assistant at Tsinghua’s journalism school from 2014 to 2017. Her understanding of the way things work at Tsinghua, and the particular needs of international students, has made Li an invaluable resource.

“In all my years of experience, I have never met a professional as good as Chengzhang,” said Tudor Finneran, a first-year Global Business Journalism master’s student from England. “From preparing me for life in China to providing constant support, both personally and professionally, she is truly the most caring and hardworking administrator I’ve ever met.”

Li's academic journey began at the Communication University of China, where she majored in Media Economics. This foundational study provided her with critical insights into the interplay between media, economics, and society. She earned her master's degree in Communication at Tsinghua, winning the Outstanding Graduation Thesis Award.

A rewarding reporting stint at Barron's China

After graduation she worked as a business reporter and financial journalist at Barron's China. She wrote about investing from an international perspective. She said the job was rewarding, a and much of the reporting was built upon the training she received in the GBJ program at Tsinghua.

“My time working at Barron's China further enriched my understanding of the global economy, media, and society landscape,” she said.

While she was happy as a journalist, Tsinghua came calling. Her former supervisor, Professor Hang Min, and the professor who hired her as a teaching assistant, Rick Dunham, asked her if she would consider working for the international affairs office. Eventually, Professors Min and Dunham, the co-directors of the GBJ program, persuaded her to join Tsinghua in 2020 – just as the coronavirus outbreak began. Li was instrumental in adapting GBJ’s educational model to remote teaching and communicated regularly with international students and professors who were unable to fly to China. Her exceptional work under difficult circumstances won her high praise from colleagues and an eventual promotion to director of the international affairs office.

Li Chengzhang is the international administrator for the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication and the Global Business Journalism program.
Li Chengzhang at an intercultural forum in Chengdu, China

GBJ co-director Dunham praises Li's transformative impact on the program.

“Li Chengzhang has brought a new level of professionalism to our office,” he said. “She is a consummate professional — knowledgeable, approachable, and always prepared.”

He recalls the moment he knew she was perfect for a leadership role: during a summer journalism training program in Washington, D.C.

“She handled all logistical elements impeccably,” he remembered. “I never could have made everything work smoothly without Chengzhang. She is a miracle worker.”

A problem solver and program promoter

Li's organization and problem solving came to the forefront with the production of the GBJ’s first promotional video. Despite numerous challenges, including funding and scheduling conflicts, she managed to produce a video released in the spring of 2024 that has significantly boosted the program's visibility worldwide.

“She urged the university to fund the project and was the executive producer,” Dunham said. “Somehow, it all came together, and the video came out great.”

Li's influence extends beyond administrative achievements. Her background and experiences enrich the GBJ program by fostering a supportive and inclusive environment.

"I see Chengzhang as the hub that connects the spokes for GBJ students," said Alicia Zeng, a Global Business Journalism student from Lincoln, Nebraska, who enrolled in the program during the COVID pandemic and later completed her degree on campus. "Not only does she connect the students to each other and also to the GBJ professors, but she also actively helps us to participate in events held or shared by other departments. Her support has a direct impact on our outreach within the Tsinghua community."

Zeng said the international administrator showed compassion for the students who were stranded abroad and made sure they were kept updated on official university communications and unofficial program news. Zeng said Li has built similar levels of trust with new GBJ students who have entered Tsinghua since the end of the pandemic.

"She is the backbone of GBJ in the way that she is the first person everyone goes to when we have a question," said Zeng. "Her ability to answer every question shows how much she cares and proves how much time she has invested in the program."

As Tsinghua University continues to ascend in global education rankings, Li Chengzhang’s leadership and commitment has built a strong international team that bridges cultural divides.

“Chengzhang treats the GBJ group as a family,” said grad student Finneran. “Thanks to her efforts, we have integrated, felt welcome, and always had professional opportunities.”


Watch the video produced by Li Chengzhang


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