Lander University is expanding its international academic programs to include colleges and university in the Pacific Rim region, specifically China, South Korea and Japan.
On March 16 President Daniel Ball and Dr. Sung-Jae Park, Lander's new interim dean for International Programs, will travel to China and Korea for official meetings with administrators of universities in those two countries.
In making the announcement, Ball said, "Our objective is to sign memoranda of understanding for academic cooperation, opening doors for student exchanges between those institutions and Lander beginning this year."
Ball emphasized that the schools he and Park will visit are paying all expenses associated with the trip.
In China, they expect to sign agreements with Shanghai University, China Eastern Normal University, and the University of International Economics and Commerce in Beijing. In Korea, they will meet with administrators at Yeungnam University, Dong-A University and Pusan University of Foreign Studies.
The new Asia initiative will make its debut this summer when two Lander students attend a two-week study program at Dong-A University in Korea. That would be followed by a semester-long student exchange in the fall.
Ball said the new initiative will enable Lander to attract students from Pacific Rim nations. "I am optimistic we will have students from Asia on our campus next fall."
Ball recruited Park to Lander because of Park's lengthy experience as a senior adviser for international education. The two men and their families have been friends since the early 1970s when Ball and Park were on the faculty together at Ball State University in Indiana. Ball was a professor of biology and Park was a professor of sport and physical education and director of Asia programs.
Park has helped schools, universities and organizations around the world develop international opportunities. He said, "The Asia initiative at Lander is an opportunity to enrich the international experiences of students and faculty." The ultimate goals are student and faculty exchanges between Lander and schools of higher education in China, Korea and Japan, joint degree and research programs, and employment opportunities.
Park has bachelor's degrees in business and physical education from two Korean universities, a master's degree from Ball State and a doctorate from Ohio State University. In addition to his academic credentials and educational experience, he has served in several professional health, physical education and recreation organizations and since 1996 he has been a member of the Korean President's Advisory Council for the Unification of the Republic of Korea. He is also an eighth-degree black-belt in Judo.
He said Lander is attractive to foreign students because of its size. "We are small and intimate and know how to welcome people. Students who come from Korea and China will return home and spread the word that Lander is a good place to study."
The Institute for International Education (IIE) reports that foreign students contribute nearly $20 billion to the U.S. economy each year. In the 2009-2010 academic year, 3.5 percent of America's higher education enrollment, or 691,000 enrollees, were international students. China, South Korea and Japan are among the top five countries with students in American schools.
In the previous academic year, South Carolina ranked 34th in the nation with 4,400 foreign students in colleges and universities in the state. Lander's enrollment includes 57 international students from 17 countries, none in the Pacific Rim region.
Park said, "South Carolina must do more to recruit foreign students not only for diversification but also economic development. We need to be global citizens, to think and act globally and contribute to the global community," he said.
He noted that other countries, especially China, Korea, India, Japan and nations in the Middle East encourage their students to learn about the United States so they can be competitive in the global marketplace.
Park and his wife, Gemma, a retired nurse, have established an international fund at Lander to provide financial assistance for students and faculty interested in overseas study.