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Trip helps University strengthen ties with Korea

By : Eric Coker

Binghamton University expanded its partnerships with Korean universities and businesses during a trip to Seoul last month.

The trip, which took place the last week of October, marked the first time that a contingent of Binghamton officials traveled together to Korea. Making the trip were President Lois B. DeFleur; Katharine Krebs, vice provost for international affairs; John Chaffee, director of the Institute of Asia and Asian Diasporas; Sungdai Cho, director of the Center for Korean Studies; Martha Reitman, director of translational research development; and Dan Polhamus, associate director of alumni and parent relations.

DeFleur noted that the trip builds on the University’s historic strengths in internationalization and our strong ties to Korea and Korean universities. Binghamton has 400 Korean students and many Korean alumni.

“It was gratifying to meet Binghamton graduates living in Korea as well as to speak with parents of several current students,” she said. “The trip helped us to foster some important connections that will strengthen our academic and research opportunities.”

Officials visited Seoul National University, which has more than 25,000 students, 16 colleges and 10 graduate schools, and Korea University, which has 19 colleges and divisions and 18 graduate schools. Memorandums of agreement were signed with both universities to strengthen collaborations.

Korea University will offer 10 scholarships for Binghamton students to study there, Cho said, starting in the fall of 2010. Korea University will also provide opportunities to take part in summer programs such as language and global issues courses.

“The summer program has some nice offerings that could appeal to a cross-section of Binghamton students,” Krebs said.

Faculty and research exchanges also will be emphasized, Cho said.

The group visited a third school, Konkuk University, and stopped at LG Household and Health Care. Officials at LG, the third-largest conglomerate in Korea, discussed long-term internship possibilities for Binghamton students.

Binghamton officials also met with officials from two foundations. The Academy of Korean Studies invests money to help spread Korean culture and language. Binghamton could soon apply for a five-year, $1.25 million grant from the academy, Cho said. Binghamton has already received funds from the second group, Korea Foundation. But the University’s recent formation of the Center for Korean Studies means that the foundation will likely be providing additional funds for cultural activities and library materials.

The Center for Korean Studies, which is under the umbrella of the Institute of Asia and Asian Diasporas, was formed this fall. Under Cho’s direction, it strives to foster research across disciplines and promote economic, political and cultural understanding of Korea.

Korea is an essential part of the campus’ internationalization, Krebs said.

“Korea is a wonderful destination because of its place in the development of Asia in recent years,” she said. “There’s a rapid expansion of economic prosperity and globalization. Korea has been serious for a long time about the development of its educational institutions. Its higher-education institutions are committed to the internationalization of the education system in a strong and dynamic way. We have so much to gain from joining with them.”

The Binghamton contingent’s visit to Seoul drew national attention, Cho said, as newspapers such as the Korea Economy Daily ran stories about DeFleur, Binghamton and why University officials were in the country.

“The national attention is showing how good Binghamton is,” Cho said. “We are going to take advantage of that attention at the same time. Hopefully, we’ll get more Korean students to apply in the future.”

Krebs, who last visited Korea a decade ago, was impressed with her return.

“Every place we went, the hospitality was spectacular,” she said. “And the interest in collaborating with Binghamton University was spectacular. The enthusiasm of our Korean colleagues to roll up their sleeves and work with us to make some of these prospects happen was very gratifying.”

 

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Last Updated: 10/14/08