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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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GW, South Korea may forge academic relationship

GW signed an agreement to discuss a future academic relationship that could open a campus in Jeju, an island off the coast of South Korea.

University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg signed the agreement, called a Memorandum of Understanding, on Aug. 15 during a visit to South Korea to accept two honorary degrees. GW officials stressed that it was only the first step in establishing a relationship with South Korea and that no formal talks have been held.

“What took place … is that the Jeju Provincial Government and the president signed a memo of understanding, and the whole point of the MOU was that GW would consider the possibility of the University having some type of presence educationally at that particular location,” said Donald Lehman, executive vice president for Academic Affairs.

Lehman said GW and Jeju have only been discussing a possible agreement for a relatively brief time.

“It’s only been a few months since they broached the idea,” Lehman said. “The president went to Korea to give a talk at a conference, and when they learned he was going, they invited him to come look at Jeju Island.”

An Aug. 16 article in Chosun Ilbo, a South Korean daily, said the University had agreed to establish a campus for South Korean students in Jeju, a report that Lehman deemed inaccurate. Jeju, located southwest of the Korean peninsula, is popular among tourists and businessmen.

“This is a very preliminary thing. It’s purely an inquiry,” Lehman said. “Even though I know there was a news story that seemed to imply we were going to do something, this is not something that any big deal should be made.”

The Chosun Ibo article said GW is opening a campus with a language school, liberal arts college and business college in 2006 that would educate thousands of South Koreans. The article did not include statements from Trachtenberg about possibly setting up a South Korean campus.

In accepting the award, Trachtenberg praised South Korean universities.

“It is a honor to be recognized in such a manner,” Trachtenberg was quoted as saying in a GW press release.?”During my travels it has been wonderful to see how universities throughout South Korea have continued to expand and develop.”

Lehman pointed out that last month was not the first time GW has discussed developing relationships abroad.

“GW has been looking at possibilities in the Middle East, China, and now we’ve been invited to look at this possibility,” he said.

He said South Korea represents a unique opportunity for GW, which already has interactions with its people.

“Korea is very interesting from the view point of the University because we have a large alumni population there,” Lehman said. “Koreans have come to study here over many years. Some of our strongest alumni groups are located in Korea.”

Koreans are the largest group among GW’s international students, which comprise about 10 percent of the overall population.

The University would need approval from the Board of Trustees if it were to go forward with any plans to build a campus in South Korea.

Lehman said, “It would require great discussion in the president’s senior staff, with the Board of Trustees … and the only way anything like that would happen is after all that discussion, the president recommended (the relationship) to the Board and they approved such a thing happening.”

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