Executive director named for Purdue's new Global Business Engagement Initiative

March 16, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — An executive director has been named for a new Purdue University program aimed at helping Indiana's communities and businesses tap global economic development opportunities.

Mark Van Fleet, a former senior executive with the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, is the executive director of Purdue's Global Business Engagement Initiative. Van Fleet, who started March 1, will lead the initiative that offers international business development resources, consulting services, cross-cultural orientation and connections to foreign trade and investment partners, said Michael A. Brzezinski, interim dean of International Programs. The initiative will draw on Purdue's strengths — including international students, parents, alumni, faculty, technology, research parks, business services and connections with foreign universities — to attract foreign investors and grow exports for Indiana, while supporting Purdue's learning and discovery missions, he said. Building commercial ties with China will be the initial focus.

"Mark is exactly the right person to lead this program, which will serve as the state's one-stop shop for learning about and conducting business with China and other countries," Brzezinski said. "We're confident that his deep international expertise and his understanding of Purdue will position the university and state for success."

Van Fleet served 20 years at the chamber, the world's largest business federation, including as vice president for Asia, and director of International Business Development. While at the chamber, Van Fleet served as CEO of the ASEAN-U.S. Business Council, director of Export, and designed and managed business-partnering initiatives with Thailand and Singapore, generating millions of dollars in new investment and trade.

"Purdue has impressive assets that can leverage global markets to create jobs here in Indiana and I'm delighted to help capture this exciting potential," Van Fleet said.

Government officials, economic development officers and business executives who are interested in more information about resources and services, can contact Van Fleet at 765-494-0614, mvanfleet@purdue.edu.

Announcement of the new Purdue program followed the recent news that Nanshan America, whose president Lijun Du is a graduate of Purdue's Krannert School of Management, had committed to invest an initial $100 million and to create some 200 jobs in Lafayette.

"The investment by Nanshan is a dramatic example of the economic impact of Purdue's international alumni connections, and one that a systematic university strategy will seek to repeat to benefit the state," Van Fleet said.

He holds degrees from Princeton University and the University of Virginia, where he also completed coursework for his doctorate. A former U.S. Foreign Service officer, he served as assistant cultural attaché for the U.S. Embassy in Thailand before joining the chamber. He left the chamber to begin his own international consulting business in 2004 and moved to West Lafayette in 2009. He has served as an adviser on international business to several Purdue colleges, centers and faculty.

The Global Business Engagement Initiative will be housed in International Programs and also is a joint effort with the Office of Engagement. The initiative was announced Feb. 25 at the Indiana Mayoral Roundtable on China. 

Writer:   Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources:   Michael A. Brzezinski, 765-494-9399, mbrzezinski@purdue.edu

                    Mark Van Fleet, 765-494-0614, mvanfleet@purdue.edu 

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