For Immediate Release—Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006
Mary E. McCrank
Media Relations Officer
SUNY Geneseo Signs Historic Agreement With High School in Korea
GENESEO, N.Y.—The State University of New York at Geneseo recently signed a historic agreement with Yangchung High School in South Korea that will allow for a select number of students from the school in Seoul to enter Geneseo each academic year starting in the fall 2007 semester.
Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl and Yangchung Principal Kyu Baek Uhm signed a memorandum of understanding Nov. 17 in a ceremony at the school in Seoul, Korea. Yangchung became the first Korean high school to sign such an agreement with a U.S. college or university, according to Korean news reports. In addition, it is the first such agreement Geneseo has made with a high school, according to College officials.
Dahl was joined by Seong B. Lim, assistant professor of management information systems in Geneseo's School of Business and a 1988 graduate of Yangchung High School, and Mary Hope, director of international student services for Geneseo. Lim's wife, Yoorim Choi, also went on the trip. In addition, Bill Caren, associate vice president for enrollment services, will accompany Lim on a March visit to Yangchung.
"We have an agreement with the top school in a country that is positioning itself to send its students to America to get a global perspective and a rigorous education," said Hope.
Lim, who joined the Geneseo faculty in 2003, approached the College about forming a partnership with his alma mater about a year ago. Lim's relationships with officials in South Korea and at Yangchung High School were instrumental in establishing the relationship between Yangchung and Geneseo, said Hope.
Lim said connecting Yangchung with Geneseo is an accomplishment that has made him proud—"one of the most valuable of my life," he said, adding it is an honor to be of service to Geneseo and his alma mater.
The agreement calls for Yangchung High School officials to recommend five to 10 distinguished students every year for admission to Geneseo. The students will not need to take the U.S. Scholastic Aptitude Test. The all-boys high school has established a selection committee and will start receiving applications at the end of this semester. The committee will evaluate the applicants based on their high school academic records, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores and recommendations from their advisors.
"In a way for Korea, this is a paradigm shift—sending students to the U.S. directly out of high school," said Hope.
The majority of the Yangchung graduates who will attend Geneseo will want to further their academic pursuits in America after they graduate from Geneseo, said Lim.
Yangchung is the oldest private high school in South Korea and has a storied history that includes disturbances by war, but never interruptions in educating its students. In 1905, Principal Uhm's grandfather, Joo Ik Uhm, founded Yangchung College. In 1907, the college was granted financial support by Queen Uhm Soonheon of the Chosun Dynasty. In 1913, the college was forced by the government of the occupying Japanese to reorganize as a school for secondary education, and it became Yangchung High School. After the Korean War broke out in 1951, provisional schools were set up in other cities, and after Seoul was recaptured in 1953 students and staff returned to the school in western Seoul.
The school is considered the best in South Korea and is known for its spirit of service, said Lim. The school has a global perspective, and numerous graduates have gone into careers in South Korean politics and in business in America and abroad.
The agreement garnered the attention by at least 20 newspapers in Korea, among them The International Herald Tribune. The high school rolled out the red carpet for its guests from Geneseo and held tea receptions and dinners in their honor. A banner with Geneseo's seal was on display for the arriving guests, and a corsage of red roses were provided for each guest's lapel. Dahl was presented with a huge floral arrangement of exotic flowers.
Geneseo's trip coincided with that of a U.S. entourage that included U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Dina Powell and 12 presidents of American universities. Many of the South Korean officials with whom the high-ranking U.S. group met were the same representatives that met with the Geneseo visitors. But what is remarkable, said Hope, is that those officials spent more time with the Geneseo visitors because of their relationship with Lim.
"It's a historic initiative," said Hope. "This is a ground-breaking step. It's an example of what the federal government is hoping will happen."
While in Seoul, Dahl visited with Sogang University President John Byungdoo Sohn, with whom Geneseo has an exchange agreement. Dahl also met with Kwangwoon University President Sang Chul Lee to discuss potential future partnerships.