Whirlwind Tour Inquisitive Koreans get overview of the U
Photos by Dan Addison
| A delegation from Korea University, the newest member of Universitas 21, got a tour of the Lawn from U.Va. student guide Adam Van Deusen on June 20.
By Dan Heuchert
Talk about tough assignments. How about the one that Denise Karaoli received in May?
Her task: Describe how the University of Virginia operates to an 18-member delegation from Korea University (and three Korean journalists). The group understands very little English. You have one month to prepare, and one workday for the actual visit.
“You do what you’ve gotta do,” said Karaoli, assistant to the associate provost for institutional advancement. “For me it was kind of fun — kind of like a puzzle.”
Korea University is the newest member of the Universitas 21 international-education consortium, of which U.Va. is the only American participant among 17 member schools from nine countries. The alliance describes itself as “an international network of leading research-intensive universities … [whose] purpose is to facilitate collaboration and cooperation between the member universities and to create entrepreneurial opportunities for them on a scale that none of them would be able to achieve operating independently or through traditional bilateral alliances.”
The Koreans came to U.Va. to see how a large American university operates, and to see what they can learn from one. “Basically, what they were doing was benchmarking,” Karaoli said. “I commend them for it. It was very smart.”
In advance of the June 20 visit, the delegation sent to Karaoli — who serves as U.Va.’s liaison to U-21 — a list of 122 questions they hoped to have answered. Included among the wide variety of topics: admissions, financial aid, tenure, career services, maintenance, fund-raising and media relations. The queries ranged from very explicit (“Does each building have a specific air conditioning period or schedule?”) to overwhelming (“Please explain your budgeting processes …”) to unfamiliar (“We hold a momentous sports event with our rival university, called the ‘Korea-Yonsei Festival’ every fall. Do you have such a sports event that includes the participation of potentially all members of your institution?”).
The delegation divided itself into three teams: academic affairs, general administrative affairs and technical affairs. The teams gathered the morning of June 20 to meet with U.Va. representatives concurrently at separate tables in the Newcomb Hall Ballroom, receiving answers to their prepared questions and asking a few more. They reunited for a midday tour of Grounds, then redivided for more questions and answers. Korean-speaking U.Va. graduate students served as translators.
“It’s fabulous,” said Young-Soo Yoon, a civil engineering professor who headed the delegation, “especially the translators. We understood every word the presenters said.”
His favorite part? “The hospitality and warm welcome,” said Yoon, who did graduate work at McGill University in Canada and spoke excellent English. “We are quite proud of being treated in this manner and the protocol being shown to us.”
As for the substance of the discussions, “Some of the systems are quite similar,” he said. Some things, though, were very different. It is illegal in Korea, for instance, to offer any extra admissions consideration to the children of donors, he said.
After a full day of questions, answers, tours and picture-taking — lots of picture-taking — Karaoli pronounced the effort “extremely successful.”
“They were just ecstatic,” she said. “It was really kind of a feel-good thing.”