Skip to main content

Indiana University

Wrapping up: “We got a ton accomplished.”

The IU delegation has returned from our week in South Korea, jet-lagged but very satisfied with the trip. We made wonderful and promising connections, strengthened already fruitful partnerships, and engaged with an outstanding group of alumni that reminded us all of the truly global value of an IU education.

Our trip was packed with everything from renewing IU’s partnership agreement with top-ranked Seoul National University to touring the spectacular stages of the Seoul Arts Center with an eye for performance opportunities for Jacobs School of Music students. From getting to know incredible IU supporters like Dr. Se Ung Lee to developing new ideas for joint programs with Korea’s oldest university, Sungkyunkwan, our trip initiated new opportunities for IU students, programs, and research.

As Provost Robel said, “We got a ton accomplished.”

Jun Robel close

Distinguished International Alumni Award Winner Dr. Jun Kwang-woo with Provost Lauren Robel

The most meaningful event, however, was the one that started it all. We planned the trip around the IU Korea alumni chapter Winter Dinner and the opportunity to spend time with more than 250 of our alumni living in Seoul.

We had the honor of recognizing Dr. Jun Kwang-woo, former chairman of the Korean National Pension Service, with IU Bloomington’s inaugural Distinguished International Alumni Award, and to present IU Maurer School of Law alumna Heejin Cho, South Korea’s highest ranked woman prosecutor, with the school’s J. William Hicks Award for Distinguished International Alumni.

Moreover, we got to see how incredibly successful our alumni have become. IU alumni in Korea are business leaders, university professors and administrators, and high-ranking public officials. Many have returned to South Korea; others are teaching, working, and serving in the United States and elsewhere around the world. They support one another, their country, and IU’s global mission to advance worldwide understanding and collaboration.

They are also helping IU grow stronger by opening doors for students, alumni, and the university’s schools and programs that can partner with institutions and organizations in South Korea, and by getting the word out about how much they gained from their IU education.

“Talking with the Korean alumni chapter, you can really see the ripples of impact of our university,” Provost Robel said.

Photos from law alumni dinner and election

The IU Maurer Korea alumni chapter held a dinner in honor of the IU delegation. This was an especially meaningful event for Robel, as many of those attending were former students. The alumni were delighted to see Assistant Dean for International Programs Lesley Davis, who had worked closely with almost all of the attendees when they were students in Bloomington. Law Professor Mark Need, who has spent many semesters teaching in Seoul, was also welcomed by the group. The alumni elected their new president and vice president during the event.

Law dinner long view

Stellar turnout for the IU Maurer Korea alumni dinner

Robel talking dinner

Provost Robel (right) talks with outgoing chapter president Jin Wook Park, director of the Macquarie Korea Asset Management Co.

Lesley with leadership

Park with Lesley Davis, assistant dean for international programs at the IU Maurer School of Law


Newly elected chapter president Hye-Hwal Seong (left), who is a professor at Inha University, and newly elected vice president Young Chan Yeo, of law firm Bae, Kim & Lee, LLC

Mark Need with leadership

IU Maurer Law Professor Mark Need with outgoing chapter president Park

Park Robel Need

(from left) Jin Wook Park, Provost Robel, Mark Need

Group shot

IU Maurer Korea alumni chapter with Maurer delegation

Signing ceremony at Seoul National University

SNU campus

Seoul National University campus

Founded in 1946 as the first national university of Korea, Seoul National University (SNU) draws more than 28,000 students to the largest university campus in Seoul. It has 16 colleges, nine professional schools, and a graduate school with nearly one hundred programs.

SNU is an elite university ranked at the top of Korean institutions and 35th in the world, according to the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings. IU has a number of active partnerships with SNU, including a dual-degree MPA with SPEA and joint research with the School of Public Health.

MOU pen to paper

SNU Provost and Executive Vice President Byun ChangKu and IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel renew the Agreement of Friendship and Cooperation

The order of the day was renewing the partnership agreement between IU and SNU. Provost Robel and SNU Executive Vice President and Provost Byun ChangKu signed the Agreement of Friendship and Cooperation that supports exchange programs, joint research projects, and dual degree programs.

Provost Robel also met with Dean Sang Jo Jong of the SNU College of Law to discuss the possibility of dual degree program. IU’s Maurer School of Law already has a history of faculty research collaborations with SNU, and there is clear interest from both parties in expanding the relationship.

“I’ve long been a proponent of dual credentials for professionals,” Robel said. “They are increasingly valuable in this global age.”

A more general discussion with Dean Nam Jun Kang of SNU’s new Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology confirmed that SNU shares IU’s interest in exploring interdisciplinarity and reimagining academic boundaries. “Your ideas are very bold,” Robel said. “I will be interested to hear how things go.”

The possibility of creating connections between IU’s Jacobs School and SNU’s nationally leading College of Music also came up in discussions with SNU faculty leadership.

There is clearly a great deal of academic alignment between IU Bloomington and Seoul National University, and strong enthusiasm on both sides for continuing to expand this partnership.

Samsung and the Leeum

Here’s what greeted us as we entered Samsung headquarters:

IU display no provost

IU icons adorn the digital display wall at Samsung headquarters.

The IU-themed display walls of the Samsung d’light gallery were just one element of a warm and engaging welcome arranged by IU Maurer School of Law alum Soo Hyung Lee, senior vice president of Samsung’s legal office.

We received a tour of the gallery, which showcases Samsung’s newest products, from a refrigerator that doubles as a digital canvas to a table that wirelessly charges any device on its surface.

Of special interest to the group were the classroom technologies that allow teachers to customize, observe, and interact with students’ individual screens as they engage with digital learning tools.

Provost simulation

Provost Robel takes a spin in a simulated convertible.

We couldn’t resist playing with a few toys, such as the simulated car chase that captivated Provost Robel.

Before arriving at the Samsung technology gallery, we had the opportunity to see how the company is applying its technologies to the world of fine art. The Leeum, Samsung’s art museum, holds more than 100 designated “national treasures” of traditional Korean pottery and paintings along with masterworks by artists like Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, and Mark Rothko.

We were given tablets and earpieces that detected our exact location in the museum and presented information about each item as we approached it. Many of the most precious objects, displayed behind glass, came to life on the tablets through interactive 360-degree rotation. The museum also featured large-screen interactive displays beside finely detailed objects, enabling visitors to zoom in on the intricate metalwork or brushstrokes.

It was exciting to consider how IU might also combine its technological strengths with its artistic and cultural treasures such as those held in the IU Art Museum, Lilly Library, and Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

Outside the Leeum, we saw another reminder of home. A colorful sculpture by Alexander Calder recalled IU Bloomington’s own Calder sculpture, Peau Rouge Indiana, which stands outside the Musical Arts Center.


An Alexander Calder sculpture outside Leeum, Samsung’s art museum

Peau Rouge

IU Bloomington’s Calder, Peau Rouge Indiana, outside the MAC

Following the two tours, Vice President Lee treated us to lunch with additional Maurer alumni from Samsung. After catching up on Bloomington news about mutual friends and favorite restaurants, we talked about opportunities for IU alumni and students at the company. Lesley Davis, assistant dean for international programs in the Maurer School, filled the alumni in on the Stewart Fellows Program, which provides fellowships for students to participate in unpaid internships overseas.

Although the Samsung name usually calls to mind electronics, we learned that many of our alumni at Samsung are involved with industrial business projects like ship building and manufacturing, adding to the many potential areas for students, alumni, and faculty to become involved with this global company.

Photos from dinner with Korean alumni leadership

Past, present, and future presidents of the Korean chapter of the IU Alumni Association invited the IU delegation for a traditional Korean meal.

Kim Woo Mrs. Woo?

(from left) Young-jin Kim, William Joo, You-Hoon Chang

Food arty

Banchan (side dishes) in every flavor and color

Robel toast

Provost Robel offers words of thanks

Mark Need

(from left) Myung Sook Kim, Mark Need (Professor, IU Maurer School of Law), Heejin Cho

Dr. Jun toast

Dr. Jun Kwang-woo, recipient of the inaugural Distinguished International Alumni Award, speaks of IU’s global influence

Group shot

Provost Robel (center front) and IU delegates with past, present, and future leadership of the IU Alumni Association Korea chapter

JoongAng Ilbo and an afternoon of arts

We’ve been delighted by the Korean media’s interest in our visit and the inaugural Distinguished International Alumni Award that Provost Robel presented to Dr. Jun Kwang-woo. Stories about the award have already appeared in the Korea Times and Korea Herald. This morning, with the help of Young-Jin Kim, MBA’84, we were able to arrange an interview with Provost Robel and Dr. Jun for JoongAng Ilbo, one of South Korea’s largest daily newspapers.

Joongang Daily interview

Park Tae-kyun of JoongAng daily newspaper interviews Dr. Jun Kwang-woo (left) and Provost Robel, with IU alum Charles Ahn assisting with interpretation.

IU alum Charles Ahn (MBA’81) assisted JoongAng journalist Park Tae-kyun with interpretation. The conversation started with the Distinguished International Alumni Award and expanded to a broad view of Indiana University and its global mission.

Time was also devoted to describing some of the incredible IU alumni who, like Dr. Jun, have gone on to distinguished careers in public service, such as President of Ireland Michael Higgins (MA’67). Provost Robel added that Congressman Lee Hamilton (JD’56) and Senator Richard Lugar, two of Indiana’s longest serving statesmen, are now faculty members in the School of Global and International Studies.

Park also asked the provost for her advice to Korean students who are considering coming to IU.

She responded, “When Korean students think of IU, they often think of business, economics or music. My advice is to also look into the hundreds of other majors we offer, including programs through several new schools. I would like to encourage exploration.”

I’ll link to the article as soon as it appears.

Our afternoon was devoted to the Seoul Arts Center (SAC) and Korea National University of Arts.

Thanks to an introduction by IU friend and supporter Dr. Se Ung Lee, we received the honor of a personal tour given by SAC President Ko Hakchan.

SAC group shot

The IU delegation and SAC leadership outside the Opera House. President Ko is fourth from right.

The SAC is Seoul’s premier performance venue, presenting nearly 1,000 live performances each year. Its five-building complex comprises an opera house, music hall, art museum, design museum, and museum of calligraphy.

We were stunned to discover that full-scale rehearsals were taking place in all three theaters of the Opera House as we walked through: La Boheme, in all its grandeur, in the 2,340-seat Opera Theater; a musical version of Werther in the 1,000-seat Towol Theater; and a string ensemble in the more intimate Jayu Theater.

The SAC is a natural fit for partnership with IU’s Jacobs School of Music, as Provost Robel and President Ko discussed after the tour. Potential linkages could include exchange programs that bring performers to Seoul and Bloomington, mutually conceived artistic projects, and video-facilitated online dialogue and exchange among students, faculty, and professionals.

Korea National University of Arts (evening)

Korea National University of Arts

It was a short walk from the SAC to the Korea National University of Arts (K-Arts). With schools of music, drama, dance, visual arts, Korean traditional arts, as well a school of film, TV, and multimedia, K-Arts has 26 total departments including architecture, design, and playwriting.

We met with Provost Choe Junho and several faculty members, including Violin Professor Kim Nam-yun, who has been a visiting professor for numerous semesters at IU Bloomington. She noted that opportunities for Jacobs students to travel to Seoul would provide valuable exposure to a variety of performance venues and performers.

IU currently does not have any arts-based partnerships in Korea, so today’s meetings were an exciting first step in exploring opportunities for collaboration.

“Indiana University is widely known in Korea.”

The message was the same from the leadership of Sungkyunkwan University and South Korea’s vice minister of education: Indiana University is a preferred partner for collaboration.

SKKU meeting seated

Provost Robel (second from right) meets with SKKU President Kim (second from left) and SKKU faculty leadership.

“We have more than 100 global partners,” said SKKU’s Vice President for International Affairs Lee Suke Kyu, “but we don’t have many partnerships as good as ours with Indiana University.”

Established in 1398, SKKU is Korea’s oldest university, and remains a top-tier institution. Multiple collaborations between IU and SKKU span the academic areas of business, law, economics, and East Asian studies and include student and faculty exchanges, research fellowships, and dual degree programs.

As Provost Robel remarked during our meetings with SKKU President Jun Young Kim and faculty leaders, “The thing that has always been stellar about our relationship with SKKU is the depth of the partnerships.”

The IU delegation met with leadership from SKKU’s law school, Global School of Business, Global Economics department, and College of Information and Communication Engineering. Topics of discussion included increasing student participation in dual degree and exchange programs, exploring new graduate and executive programs, and developing multi-institutional partnerships that draw on diverse strengths of several international universities.

The SKKU delegates emphasized that the IU name is a great asset to their programs. President Kim expressed that IU graduates have a tremendous presence in Korea.

“There are a lot of graduates of American universities in Korea, but as far as I know, Indiana University has one of the largest groups of alumni in Korea,” he said.

Vice Minister Na

Provost Robel speaks with Vice Minister of Education Na Seung-il with the aid of an interpreter.

Similar sentiments were expressed during our meeting with Vice Minister of Education Dr. Na Seung-il. As this was IU’s first meeting with the Vice Minister, the discussion was broad and considered Korea’s future directions in higher education and potential support for collaborations.

“Indiana University is widely known in Korea as a prestigious university,” Vice Minister Na said. He showed particular interest in the new schools that have been formed on the IU Bloomington campus following the university’s New Academic Directions report.

“I am going to pay attention to what you are doing in your new Media School and School of Global and International Studies. We are hoping to expand cooperation.”

The meeting with Vice Minister Na was facilitated by Dr. Se Ung Lee, a longtime friend of Indiana University who received an honorary doctorate from IU Kokomo in 1999 and holds doctoral degrees from SKKU and the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

In an overwhelming display of hospitality, Dr. Lee provided dinner for the IU delegates and his friends and colleagues from Seoul Cyber University, Sookmyung University, Seoul Arts Center, and the Korean National Opera.

While a memorable moment was Provost Robel’s impromptu (and quite lovely) rendition of “Hail to Old IU,” I don’t think she’ll mind me saying that performance was dramatically overshadowed by the post-dinner entertainment.

Dr. Lee brought in violinist Hyun Su Shin, a prizewinner in the 2012 Queen Elisabeth competition who debuted in 2009 at the U.S. National Symphony Orchestra. For a taste of the masterful and intensely moving performance we experienced up close, listen to Ms. Shin perform on YouTube.

Robel plaque

Dr. Lee presents Provost Robel with a plaque to symbolize his appreciation for IU.

The evening concluded with Dr. Lee presenting Provost Robel with a plaque to symbolize his appreciation for IU and the university’s commitment to Korea.

We ended the night sated on tremendous food, music, and company, and feeling extraordinarily humbled and grateful for the depth of affection our Korean friends have for IU.

Korean Alumni Chapter Winter Dinner

The IU Korean Alumni chapter is one of the university’s largest and most active, with more than 1,000 members who regularly participate in events, network, and support each other and IU. Each year, the chapter hosts a winter dinner to review the year’s activities, elect new leadership, and get to know new members of the group.

This year’s event was held at the Novotel in Seoul and was filled to capacity with more than 250 alumni and family members. Attendees included SPEA alum Kim Dong-wan, a member of South Korea’s National Assembly; Kelley School of Business alum Young Jin Kim, chairman and CEO of Handok Inc.; and Mrs. Young-eun Paik, a Jacobs School of Music alumna who is now a professor of composition at Dankook University and the chapter’s incoming president.

Multigenerational shot

Korean alumni and their families gathered at the chapter’s Winter Dinner in Seoul.

Provost Robel was a featured speaker, sharing updates on the academic transformations at IU Bloomington that have followed the university’s New Academic Directions report of 2011. These innovations include the transformation of the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation to a School of Public Health; the merging of the School of Library and Information studies with the School of Informatics to create a School of Informatics and Computing; the creation of the new Media School; and the creation of the new School of Global and International Studies, for which several Korean alumni chapter members have already helped to endow a chair in Korean Studies.

Maurer School award to Heejin Cho

The gathering was also an opportunity for IU to recognize two of its most accomplished alumni. On behalf of the Maurer School of Law, Provost Robel presented the J. William Hicks Award for Distinguished International Alumni to Maurer grad Heejin Cho.

Heejin_Cho award

Provost Robel (left) and Senior Director of International Alumni Relations Eric DeHaan present Heejin Cho with the J. William Hicks Award from the Maurer School of Law.

Mrs. Cho began her legal career in 1987, at a time when women prosecutors were almost unheard of in South Korea. After receiving her LLM from Indiana University in 2000, she joined the South Korean Ministry of Justice. She went on to serve as a senior prosecutor for the Criminal Investigation Department of the Uijeonbu District Prosecutor’s Office, then for the Criminal Trial Department and subsequently the Criminal Investigation Department of the Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office. In 2005, she also became a professor at the Judicial Research and Training Institute.

Cho served as the commissioner of the Cheonon Branch of the Daejon District Public Prosecutor’s Office before becoming research commissioner of the Institute of Justice this year. She is the highest ranked woman prosecutor in South Korea.

Receiving the award, she addressed the other attendees. “IU opened my eyes to other examples of law. We came to IU to pursue the American dream in the academic setting. We have used our education to make Korea more stable and transparent.”

Distinguished International Alumni Award to Dr. Jun Kwang-woo

On behalf of Indiana University Bloomington, Provost Robel presented a new award created to recognize true distinction among international alumni of Indiana University Bloomington. Created this year, the Distinguished International Alumni Award recognizes outstanding lifetime achievement on a global scale.

The selection criteria specify an individual whose career and contributions have resulted in profound impact and lasting benefit to society.

“We have reserved this award for the most accomplished individuals, who honor our university by serving as an example of dedication, compassion, perseverance, and service,” Robel said.

Dr. Jun Kwang-woo, distinguished professor at the Yonsei University School of Economics and former chairman of South Korea’s National Pension Service, received the inaugural Distinguished International Alumni Award.

Jun Kwang-woo award

Provost Robel and Eric DeHaan present Dr. Jun Kwang-woo with the Distinguished International Alumni Award.

Dr. Jun received his masters and PhD in Economics and his Masters of Business Administration from Indiana University. His career has combined stellar public service with academic posts and service in the private sector. His experience includes 14 years with the World Bank and serving as Chairman of the Finance Services Commission, Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Regional Committee of the International Organization of Securities Commissions, Korea’s ambassador for International Finance, and Chairman of the National Pension Service.

He has also served as Chair of Deloitte Korea and Vice Chairman of Woori Financial Group, and his academic posts include positions in the United States as well as chair of the Graduate School of Economics at Yonsei University.

Dr. Jun has also given back to Indiana University through his long involvement with the IU Korean Alumni chapter, including having served as its president.

Provost Robel read a letter from IU President Michael McRobbie congratulating Dr. Jun, and presented him with a crystal globe, “symbolizing the light you have brought to matters of international importance, and the esteem you have brought to IU Bloomington through your tremendous accomplishments,” she said.

Dr. Jun’s unexpected response drew cheers from the crowd: “Before I received this award, I was planning to retire. But this gives me tremendous encouragement to work harder and longer for the good name of Indiana University.”

Photos from the event

Reindeer ensemble

Jacobs School of Music graduates perform holiday music.


A trio of Jacobs School of Music graduates present a vocal performance.

Member of assembly toast

SPEA graduate Kim Dong-wan, a member of Korea’s National Assembly, offers a toast.

Jun and Robel

Because much of the program was in Korean, Dr. Jun Kwang-woo translated for Provost Robel.


De Haan with law alumni

Senior International Alumni Director Eric DeHaan (center) greets alumni from IU’s Maurer School of Law.

Coffee before event

The IU delegation catches up over coffee with the IU Korean Alumni chapter leadership. From left: Eric DeHaan, Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives M.A. Venkataramanan, Provost Lauren Robel, Heejin Cho, Charles Ahn, Young-eun Paik, William Joo, Dr. Jun Kwang-woo.





Arrival in Seoul

Seoul at night, seen from the Namsan Tower.

Seoul at night, seen from the Namsan Tower.

It’s been a long journey. We left Bloomington at 10:30 in the morning and arrived at our hotel in Seoul at 10:30 at night – the following day.

Somehow I thought that we would fly east, over the Atlantic, across Europe, and toward East Asia. Because we were in the air from Friday afternoon until Saturday evening, I expected to see the sun set, rise, and set again before we arrived. Instead the flight path took us west and remained in darkness. Crossing earlier time zones on our way across Canada and Alaska, it felt as though we traveled toward yesterday, but landed in tomorrow.

Which may be an apt description of a journey to Seoul. The city’s official tourism website, Visit Seoul, traces the area’s history back 700,000 years to its first inhabitants. Each of Korea’s historical eras, beginning with the founding of Gojoseon in 2333 B.C., are detailed here and on the country-level site,

As that site explains, “The founding date is a testament to the longevity of Korea’s history. This heritage is also a source of pride for Koreans and their strength to persevere in times of adversity.”

On arrival, however, nothing is more apparent than the pervasiveness of technological innovation. From the digital fingerprint scanning at customs to “smart” washrooms and water fountains, electronics appear integrated into every aspect of the physical environment. My hotel room has remote controls for the window shades, every conceivable type of outlet and data port, and an extensive panel of options within the water closet. Brightly lit skyscrapers fill the view from my window, stretching to the horizon in a seemingly endless electronic array.

Our trip promises to emphasize both aspects of Korean culture: its prized heritage as well as its innovation leadership. From partnership discussions around traditional performing arts to connecting with alumni involved in emerging technologies at Samsung, we’ll have opportunities to bring these complementary elements into further alignment with academic excellence at IU Bloomington.

One week away from South Korea

IU Bloomington has a special connection with South Korea. More than 3,600 IU alumni are from the country, and 840 South Korean students are currently pursuing degrees on campus. IU partners with four universities in South Korea that support a wide array of student and faculty exchanges, joint research efforts, and dual degree programs that allow students to receive credentials from both institutions.

IU students regularly travel to South Korea’s capital, Seoul, for study abroad programs, focusing on areas of study from accounting to art history, journalism to biochemistry, and environmental management to health administration. Recently, several IU alumni worked with the Korea Foundation to establish IU’s first endowed chair in Korean studies, and nearly all of IU’s academic partnerships in the area involve IU alumni who have gone on to become professors in their home country.

korea picture

Bulguksa Buddhist temple in South Korea

This extraordinary group of IU alumni gather each year in Seoul for the IU Korea Alumni Club Gala Winter Banquet. That event, on December 1, will be the kickoff to a packed week dedicated to expanding IU’s international reach, furthering opportunities for students and faculty, and strengthening ties to an area rich in both culture and innovation and deeply committed to education.

I’ll be blogging throughout the trip to share news, photos, and updates on our week in South Korea. Feel free to reach out to me directly with questions at