IU’s great global ambassadors in Korea

A mere 24 hours after arriving in Seoul, members of the Indiana University delegation were treated to one of those special, energy-filled events that — along with providing a much-needed jolt to the jet-lagged — spotlight the extraordinary strength of the university’s connections around the world.

More than 300 IU international alumni made for a major welcoming party for IU President Michael A. McRobbie and his fellow delegation members, who participated in a rousing celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Korea Chapter of the Indiana University Alumni Association on Sunday evening in Seoul.

Members of the IU delegation helped celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Korea Chapter of the IU Alumni Association.

Members of the IU delegation helped celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Korea Chapter of the IU Alumni Association.

IU now has over 4,600 alumni affiliated with Korea, many of whom make up one of IU’s most dynamic and active alumni chapters anywhere in the world. Their unwavering loyalty, support and friendship to the university reflect IU’s longstanding relationship with the East Asian region of the world and, more specifically, its deep and extensive ties to Korea.

Those connections encompass successful partnerships with many of Korea’s leading research and educational institutions. In 1986, the same year IU’s Korean alumni chapter was founded, IU began a partnership with Yonsei University in the form of a student exchange agreement. Today, IU also has strong partnerships with Seoul National University, Sunghyungkwan University and Ewha Womans University. (A great new IU website contains a searchable database of all of IU’s international partners.)

More than 9,000 international students are enrolled at IU; of that number, more than 800 students are from Korea, making it the third-leading country of origin for international students at IU. Over 11 percent of international students at IU Bloomington come from Korea, and they continue to make vital contributions to the academic and cultural life of the campus.

And of course, none of us who were fortunate to be here in Korea last year will soon forget experiencing the first-ever Asian tour by the IU Chamber Orchestra, part of IU’s world-renowned Jacobs School of Music. Though this blogger wrote a great deal about the tour on a previous presidential trip blog, at times it truly was challenging to put into the proper words just how much this opportunity meant to IU’s student musicians, several of whom were returning to their home country to perform in front of family and friends at illustrious venues such as the Seoul Arts Center.

A new chapter

Tonight’s event provided President McRobbie and two of his fellow delegation members an opportunity to share — with several generations of its Korean alums — the latest chapter in IU’s ever-expanding engagement in East Asia.

First up during the IU portion of the presentation was professor Seung-kyung Kim, who, just over a year ago, joined IU as the founding Korea Foundation Chair in Korean Studies and director of IU’s new Institute for Korean Studies. The institute, housed in IU’s School of Global and International Studies, was created through generous support from The Korea Foundation, whose contribution also made possible the first endowed chair in Korean studies, and donations from prominent alumni Young-jin Kim and William Joo and a third anonymous Korean donor.

IU President McRobbie presented a plate commemorating the 30th anniversary of IU's Korean alumni chapter to, from left, William Joo and Young-jin Kim.

IU President McRobbie, right, presented a plate commemorating the 30th anniversary of IU’s Korean alumni chapter to William Joo, left, and Young-jin Kim.

(A brief word here about two of IU’s most successful international alumni. Young-jin Kim received an MBA from IU’s Kelley School of Business in 1984. He is chairman and CEO of Handok Pharmaceuticals Co., which develops and provides prescription and over-the-counter medication. William Joo received an MBA from the Kelley School of Business in 1987 and is chairman of MediaWill Co., which produces specialty magazines and their companion websites. Their grant, delivered in 2002,┬árepresented a watershed moment in IU’s history of international engagement, as it was the first time that international alumni, in combination with a government organization, contributed in a major way to supporting academic programs at IU through the funding of a chair focused on their home country.)

During her remarks, Seung-kyung Kim offered an overview of the new institute, which seeks to become one of the leading centers of Korean scholarship and teaching in the nation, while enhancing IU’s academic programs on one of the most dynamic and increasingly influential countries in the world. She also talked about several recent exciting developments at the institute.

The institute already has been awarded two grants from the Korea-based Academy of Korean Studies, the largest of which will support expanding the Korean studies curriculum at IU and assisting in recruiting graduate students. Additionally, the institute hosted a major conference earlier this fall that brought many of the nation’s most distinguished Korea scholars to campus to discuss the establishment of Korean studies in the U.S.

Following Kim’s remarks, Lee A. Feinstein, founding dean of IU’s School of Global and International Studies, presented the alums in attendance with a picture (literally and figuratively) of the new school, its mission of preparing students to live, work and succeed in an increasingly globalized world, and how quickly the school has transformed into a Midwestern hub for the finest international scholars and scholarship.

When McRobbie took the stage, he immediately paid special thanks to the past and present chapter officers who have made IU’s Korean alumni chapter so remarkably successful and presented a special plate to Young-jin Kim and William Joo commemorating the chapter’s 30-year anniversary. McRobbie then delivered an update on what he described as a “banner year” at IU, one filled with a number of historic achievements across the university, including record enrollment of international students this fall and a record for the number of students studying abroad.

A group of Korean alumni from the IU Jacobs School of Music delivered a special performance.

A group of Korean alumni from the IU Jacobs School of Music delivered a special performance.

“That the university continues to progress in such a remarkable fashion is testimony to the dedication and generosity of thousands of IU alumni and friends,” McRobbie said. IU’s alumni are, he continued, the university’s “greatest ambassadors,” and their successes are testimony to the power of an IU education.

Finally, the evening closed with a concert by a group of Jacobs School of Music alumni, who performed a five-song set culminating with a Korean-language version of the popular Christmas carol “Silent Night.” As the string musicians played and the singers sang so beautifully, one couldn’t help but think back to those inspiring Chamber Orchestra performances here in Seoul last year and look ahead to many more harmonious arrangements between IU and a country halfway across the world where the Hoosier spirit is so strong.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,