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Emory president leads delegation in Seoul to bolster university relations and alumni engagement in Korea
representatives from Emory University and Younsei University

Leaders from Yonsei University and Emory were on hand when Emory President Gregory L. Fenves and Yonsei President Seoung Hwan Suh (middle) signed a memorandum of understanding for a new online lecture collaboration platform, LearnUs, during a recent meeting in Seoul, Korea.

Emory University President Gregory L. Fenves traveled to South Korea in November with members of Emory’s offices of Global Strategy and Initiatives (GSI), Advancement and Alumni Engagement (AAE) and the Goizueta Business School to advance the strategic partnership with Yonsei University, engage with Korea-based Emory alumni, and hold a 2O36 campaign event.

The Emory-Korea connection

Emory and South Korea have a deep historical connection spanning nearly 130 years. South Korea was home to the university’s first international students, who graduated in 1893, and students from South Korea represent Emory’s third-largest international student population. Emory also has an extensive network of alumni living in South Korea.

“The Emory alumni chapter in Seoul has over 1,000 members, and it is one of our most engaged and strongest international chapters,” Fenves says. “With their commitment and partnership, we are creating extraordinary opportunities for new generations of South Korean students seeking to build their own legacies at Emory.”

Currently, 53 faculty actively work in South Korea across a variety of disciplines in all nine of Emory’s schools.

Fortifying relations with Yonsei University

Yonsei University is one of the most prestigious institutions in South Korea and has a longstanding relationship with Emory. Before his tenure at Emory, former President James T. Laney served in the U.S. Army in Korea during the late 1940s and returned to teach at Yonsei in the early 1960s. After leaving the Emory presidency in 1993, Laney was appointed U.S. ambassador to South Korea. In 2012, Yonsei established the Laney Professorship in honor of his countless contributions to the advancement of U.S.-Korea relations.

Emory and Yonsei have had multiple memoranda of understanding (MOUs) over the years to support activities such as student exchange and collaborative research. During this visit, Fenves and Yonsei University President Seoung Hwan Suh signed an MOU for a new online lecture collaboration platform, LearnUs.

“This virtual lecture collaboration with Yonsei University was inspired by our experiences during the pandemic, when online instruction transitioned from occasional use to a necessity, and we saw it bring together students and faculty from across the world,” says Fenves. “Each lecture will concentrate on areas of joint interest, with the first focused on artificial intelligence (AI).”

Over the last five years, Emory and Yonsei faculty have coauthored 225 publications that have garnered more than 24,000 citations to date. In addition to student exchange programs, the universities have several partnerships such as a dual appointment professorship in the School of Medicine, a Yonsei Korean Language Fellow at Emory, and 11 grants through the Halle Institute for Global Research spanning public health, culture, historical urban mapping, economic development, air pollution, cancer research and AI.

Korean university collaboration

Philip Wainwright (right) signed a memorandum of understanding on behalf of Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing with Hae Won Kim, dean of nursing at Seoul National University.

During the visit, staff from Emory’s Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives met with faculty, students and leaders from many other institutions in Korea. The Halle Institute’s Jeffrey Lesser and Alexander Cors met with nine universities and foundations such as the Korea Fulbright Commission and the Korea Student Aid Foundation to promote the Emory Korea Fulbright Distinguished Chair program, which brings one eminent scholar from Korea to Emory’s Atlanta campus every year.

“Meeting with Korean faculty and student researchers at a variety of universities illustrated the importance of collaboration in generating academic excellence,” says Lesser, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor and director of the Halle Institute for Global Research.

Philip Wainwright, vice provost for GSI, signed an MOU with Seoul National University College of Nursing on behalf of Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. This signing with Hae Won Kim, dean of nursing at Seoul National University, initiated a relationship for faculty research collaboration and exchange. 

Emory-Korea engagement

In preparation for the Goizueta MBA program’s upcoming Global Experiential Module (GEM) in May 2023, the Goizueta Global Strategy and Initiatives (GGSI) team met with several South Korean companies and business institutions — many of which are associated with Emory alumni — to lay the groundwork for the students’ upcoming visit. GGSI also explored additional partnership opportunities for Goizueta students and faculty with nonprofits, NGOs, innovation/entrepreneurship centers and other companies.

Emory President Gregory L. Fenves addressed an audience of almost 100 during a 2O36 campaign event in South Korea.

Honoring a 19-year community service commitment, more than 30 volunteers comprised of Emory staff, Korea-based alumni and families participated in the Emory Cares International Day of Service in Seoul. Working with Coal Briquettes for Neighbors in Korea, they helped raise money to purchase, donate and deliver coal to people in need for the coming winter.

Ki Hoon (Leo) Koh OX13 BBA17, a chapter leader of the Korea Alumni Network, helped organize the group of Emory Cares Day volunteers.

“This year's event was very special in many ways,” Koh says. “This was not only the first official re-opening of alumni events in Korea after COVID, but also a chance to serve with our special guests from Emory visiting Korea. We will definitely continue this legacy in the future, and I am grateful to have such a warm-hearted alumni family who are more than willing to donate and serve with the association.”

During the 2O36 Campaign event, Fenves spoke to almost 100 Emory constituents, emphasizing the role alumni and supporters play in “boldly” investing in student flourishing, faculty eminence and research excellence. He expressed his gratitude to the donors and benefactors present for their efforts in moving Emory that much closer to its campaign goal.

“I was delighted to see the outpouring of support and enthusiasm from Emory’s Korean community,” says Katie Busch, executive director of international advancement and constituent engagement. “From our Emory Cares International Day of Service and the 2O36 campaign event, to small group meetings with alumni, donors and parents, it was evident that Emory’s pride can be found far and wide on the Korean peninsula.” 

About the Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives

The Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives is dedicated to the support, promotion and expansion of Emory’s engagement worldwide through implementing creative global initiatives, fostering cross-unit collaboration and championing a culturally vibrant and diverse campus.

To learn more about Emory in the world, visit the GSI website. Subscribe to the GSI newsletter for the latest news on Emory’s global engagement.

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