Just days after Commencement, JoAn and I left for Seoul, South Korea, to engage with our many alumni in that country and, later, in Japan and Hong Kong. We were accompanied by Chairman of the Board of Trustees Brad Currey and Vice President for Institutional Advancement Bill Fox and his wife, Carol. While in Seoul, we had a good, prolonged visit with my predecessor, Jim Laney, who is doing a masterful job of representing the United States as ambassador. Our tour of the DMZ, under his watchful care, provided a stark reminder of the tenuousness of peace and the need to nurture it constantly.
It is not news, of course, that the countries we visited have been driving the economic dynamo of Asia and have become important factors in global affairs. What we at Emory take for granted, perhaps, is the number of extraordinarily loyal and successful alumni in positions of responsibility for directing the futures of these countries. More than a hundred alumni, joined by state and university officials, attended each of the events in Seoul and in Tokyo. I am particularly grateful for the strong support given to us by President Jimmy Carter in Japan. His friendships in that nation are old and deep, and I continue to see how fortunate Emory is to have The Carter Center in its constellation of excellence.
We at Emory are only beginning to see the role that Asia can play in educating our students now for a different world coming into being. As we fully revamp our study abroad programs during the year ahead and emphasize international education, Asia will be increasingly prominent in our thinking.
One of the more exciting initiatives to report in this regard is the splendid gift of $5 million from Claus M. Halle and his wife, Marianne. Their support is described below, in an excerpt from an article written by J. Randal Ashley for the May 28th Atlanta Constitution. From it, you may catch some of the enthusiasm on campus for the developments that must take place if Emory is to maintain its momentum into the next decade.
FOCUS ON GEORGIA AND ASIAScholarly life is not all textbooks, libraries and testing.
Sometimes it's diplomacy, and in Atlanta there are dozens of such ventures going on at any given time. Taken together, they are as important, if not as glamorous, as the Olympics in transforming the capital of the South into "the world's next great international city." . . .
Emory is going international in a big way. It already has many strong international programs, but they're largely uncoordinated. There are foreign students, international exchange programs, visiting professors, area studies, language and religion studies, and business, law, medical, nursing and public health schools with strong international influences.
But to achieve Emory's goal of providing a "global education" [according to President William M. Chace], the university must "pull it together" and take a more comprehensive approach, creating a vision that makes all the international elements work together. The goal, in the words of an Emory grant proposal, is "the creation of a wholly new international culture for the university."
Needless to say, achieving that goal takes money as well as creative thinking. Emory's initial burst of ideas has been rewarded by a recent $5 million gift from former Coca-Cola executive Claus M. Halle and his wife, Marianne.
Halle, described in Emory's grant proposal as "a major force behind The Coca-Cola Company's international expansion," will assist personally in the creation of the Claus M. Halle Institute for Global Education, a kind of coordinating center for all existing international programs at Emory and the originator of new ones. . . .
Thoughts about what a "global education" entails flow easily from Chace, but they are still in the exploratory stage. The university community as a whole must make the vision a practical reality.
Chace is clear on one thing: "First is to have a good curricular base . . . a good basis in the library. No [international studies] professor will come without a good research library."
And that first priority? Asian Studies.
Consider the complexity of acquiring a world-class library when all the basic writings are in Chinese characters. How do you best organize class offerings so a Western student will come to understand Confucianism and Buddhism?
Chace and Bradley Currey, chairman of the Board of Trustees, are visiting Asia this month in search of some answers to the thousands of questions raised by an ambition for international excellence.
To be blunt, which Chace is not, the trip is about personal connections. Chace and Currey have good connections, people who can open doors to Japanese, Korean and Chinese industrialists and foundation executives, and a surprising number of Korea's elite are Emory alumni.
In addition, James Laney . . . did the honors and introductions for Chace and Currey in Seoul.
Former President Jimmy Carter, who has much face in Japan, diplomatically described his efforts with the Emory leaders as a chance "to visit organizations and meet individuals who are interested in Emory's mission in education, research and service to the world."
Carter met with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda. In building a program of "global education" at Emory, these are handy men to know.
Reprinted with permission from The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. (c) 1996
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