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Release: Immediate

UI forges new ties with Taiwan, renews linkages with Korea

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa officials led by President Mary Sue Coleman forged new relationships with alumni as well as education, government and business leaders in Taiwan and renewed similar friendships in Korea on a 10-day trip that ended Jan. 14.

Highlights of the trip included:

* A request from Taiwan's education minister for the UI to consult on ways for that country to test its students' readiness for college. Education Minister Jin Wu is a UI graduate, having earned master's and doctoral degrees in hydraulic engineering.

* A state dinner with Taiwanese President Teng-hui Lee, an alumnus of Iowa State University who praised the people of Iowa for their commitment to education. Coleman, in return, commended Lee for his efforts to expand democracy.

* Meetings with business and foundation leaders who expressed enthusiastic interest in providing funding for an endowed chair in Chinese studies at the UI.

* Reaffirmation of agreements with Korean universities and renewal of ties with Korean business and research leaders, including Kwan Rim, former associate dean in the UI College of Engineering who is now president of Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology.

* Alumni gatherings in each country. More than 90 people attended the gathering in Taipei, Taiwan, including one family with three generations of UI alumni. The annual meeting of the UI Alumni Association of Korea drew about 95 people, who watched a tape of the Iowa-Iowa State basketball game and "Reflections: The Shaping of a University," the UI's sesquicentennial video.

"We gained so much from this trip because it will help us achieve our goals of strengthening the international perspective of our educational programs and creating links with education, government and business leaders in other countries," Coleman said. "This will provide opportunities for our students and faculty to study abroad, encourage the enrollment of greater numbers of students from Taiwan and Korea, and strengthen teaching and research on East Asia at the UI."

Coleman credited UI alumni in Taiwan and Korea with making the trip a success, noting that it was UI alumnus Jin Wu who arranged for the UI contingent to meet with Taiwan President Lee to discuss educational reforms. "He opened many doors for us and gave us a unique opportunity to meet with both government and education leaders," she said. In addition to educational testing, Taiwanese officials expressed interest in getting the UI's help for teaching English to elementary school students, and for establishing links in broadcasting, journalism and business.

While in Taiwan, the UI officials visited National Taiwan University, National Taiwan Normal University, and National Cheng Chi University, all in Taipei; and National Cheng Kung University in Tainan. They also attended a reunion of 25 leading Taiwanese writers and publishers who have participated in the UI's International Writing Program. While meeting with UI alumni in Taipei, they learned that two new UI alumni groups are being created in Tainan and Kaoshiung.

Coleman and the UI group also met with the Hua Hsia Investment Company, which is headed by UI alumna Teresa Chou and received preliminary approval for funding of an endowed chair in Chinese studies. Visits also were made to other potential funding groups. "We believe the trip to Taiwan was essential to gaining this promise of funding and to opening doors for future support," the UI president said.

The visit to Korea allowed Coleman and others to renew friendships that were made during a previous visit to that country in June 1996. The UI group visited three universities in Seoul and the vicinity: Ewha Womans University, Yonsei University and Ajou University. They also made a first-time visit to Sung Kyun Kwan University.

The group also met with Professor Kwan Rim at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology and toured the Samsung Medical Center, where they reviewed ongoing collaborations between Samsung researchers and UI medical and engineering faculty.

Representatives of the UI group visited the Korea Foundation, which has already provided the UI with $500,000 for an endowed chair in Korean studies. They also met with representatives from the Daewoo Foundation, which has contributed funding for materials used in Korean studies at the UI.

Coleman spoke to a group of 20 Korean women who are leaders in education, business, politics and government. "I was happy to share my experiences as a woman in higher education and to learn first-hand from my hosts about the changing role of women in Korean society," she noted. "We discussed the emergence of a women's studies program at Yonsei University, and they expressed interest in possible collaboration with our UI women's studies doctoral program."

In addition to meeting with UI alumni from Korea, the UI group also met with Tim Trinka, a UI alumnus from the Chicago area who has worked in Seoul for 10 years as an attorney with a large law firm. Trinka commended the UI group for making the trip to Korea at a time when that country's economy is facing challenges.

"These are not the best of times for the Korean economy, but I think it was clear that our hosts were all the more grateful that we made this trip. We were greatly impressed at how the Korean people are pulling together to meet their economic challenges," Coleman said. "It was an excellent way to demonstrate that we are not just fair-weather friends."

Coleman was joined in her travels by Hauling Nieh-Engle, professor emerita of the UI International Writing Program; Michael McNulty, associate provost and dean of international programs; Jae-On Kim, director of the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies; Stephen Arum, assistant dean of international programs; and Michael New, vice president for development at the UI Foundation.