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UT strives to strengthen mutual ties with South Korean universities

Trading business cards in South Korea is a formal process, so it is best to stand and receive a card with both hands. University of Tennessee (UT) is observing all aspects of culture as the administration begins building a bridge with South Korean universities.

Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek, four students, the dean of the College of Sport Sciences and a faculty member signed an agreement to exchange research resources with Dong-A University in Busan, South Korea. Faculty, staff and scholars will all be able to participate.

Although this initiative will contribute to the university’s goal of reaching the top 25 public research institutions status, the prospects of pursing a relationship with South Korea began years ago. Joy T. DeSensi, the associate dean of the University of Tennessee’s graduate school, Dean Bob Rider and Dr. Fritz G. Polite, the clinical assistant professor of sports management and the founding director of I-Lead, have maintained relations with the government and universities in South Korea.

“We want to spread the Tennessee brand around the world,” Polite said.

Dong-A University has made an offer for an official start date of the programs, but the administration must first discuss the dates and what departments will be affected. In addition, UT has been communicating with two other Korean universities, Yonsei University in Seoul and Inha University in Incheon. The South Korean government has also proposed scholarships for students wishing to study at these universities.

Sports, engineering and various sciences are some of the subjects available for study through the program, but there are also other departments related to the humanities. English as a second language program will be available not only to those wishing to learn English, but those wishing to teach it. Students wishing to learn Korean will be able to attend the Korean Language Institute.

Whitney Bowen, junior in English and an avid fan of Korean film, culture and TV drama, has been teaching herself Korean. “If it’s university-backed, that means it’s safe, and I would do it,” Bowen said. Angelisa Martin, an undecided freshman, shared Bowen’s opinion. “I believe if I knew more about the program and had the opportunity, I would love the chance to participate,” Martin said.

The program not only involves a formal education, but also the informal. Program initiators believe UT would diversify, and could provide a chance for students unable to travel halfway across the globe to gain a better sense of cultural competency. As South Korea rises in the world of business, among other areas, through mediums of both manufacturing technology and the auto industry, the addition of these programs will be another resource for UT students.

Once finalized, this agreement will add to the three current programs available to students to travel to South Korea through the study abroad office. In addition, this program could add a positive factor in the university’s initiative to become one of the top 25 public research institutions in the nation, as it would help the university further meet criteria for global outreach programming. Fruitful results have blossomed from research and communication, but the conversation continues.


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