The Office of Globalization has opened an office in Seoul, South Korea, the sixth of its international offices and the second to open this school year. USC hopes the new office will increase educational collaboration between Korea and the United States and provide new opportunities for USC students in Seoul.
USC Korea’s Opening Ceremony took place March 15, hosted by Vice Provost for Globalization Adam Powell and USC Trustee Yang Ho Cho, the only Korean national to be on a board of trustees at any major university in the United States.
The office will be directed by Steven Lee, a professor of East Asian languages and cultures. Lee said he sees great potential for USC to grow through its relationship with Korea.
“Korea has one of the fastest emerging economies in the world, and one of the world’s best-educated citizenry,” Lee said. “Consequently, Korea has become Asia’s hub for economic and education development. Capitalizing on these factors and extending on USC’s mission to offer opportunities for global education, Korea is an ideal place for USC.”
The goals of the new office in Korea include advancing research partnerships with foreign universities, prospective partners and government agencies; providing an increased amount of internships abroad for USC students; and identifying schools and students with the potential to assist in recruiting graduate and undergraduate students for USC.
According to Powell, USC has historically had a very strong relationship with Korea, hosting thousands of Korean students over the years — 873 currently. Korea is the third most-represented country at USC, behind only India and China, and the alumni association in South Korea has the largest membership of any foreign institution in that country.
USC Korea, the first U.S. university program to be approved as a nonprofit by the Korean government, represents the university’s increasing interest in Asia. Powell said Asian countries including China, Korea and India are of great interest to the USC faculty because of research and internship opportunities.
“We’re getting more interest from all departments each year in international partnerships and global research,” Powell said. “[Executive Vice President and Provost C. L. Max] Nikias asked me last year to double our programs in Asia — he believes it’s an essential investment in USC’s future, and so do the rest of the faculty.”
Of USC’s six current international offices, five are located in Asia and the next office slated to open will be in Mumbai, India. The other international office is in Mexico City.
Pei-Hsuan Chu, the director of the Taiwan Office in Taipei, which opened in 1998, said she thinks the university’s global push has been successful thus far.
“As far as I know, there is no school that is doing what we have been doing [in Taiwan],” Chu said. “No other university is as thoroughly involved in overseas education as we are; being on the ground allows local people to learn more about USC in their own language and their own culture.”
Pei’s sentiment is echoed by the faculty of the other international offices.
“Apart from Boston University, which has a local office mainly responsible for admissions, USC is the only university with a local office to not only manage admission procedures but also to assist with numerous events and activities in Hong Kong such as career placement and alumni relations,” said Sarah Lee, administrative and event officer for the Shanghai office.
The Mumbai office is scheduled to open late this summer and the university is hoping to launch another international office as soon as 2012, though the location has not yet been confirmed.
USC’s expansion into Asia also extends beyond the Korea office and the upcoming India office. In 2012, USC plans to open its Asia Global University campus, which will allow students to take USC courses in Korea.
“We live in an increasingly globalized world, and we’re trying to really invent what it is to be a global university,” Powell said. “Our network of international offices is a big part of that; we’re aiming to establish USC as a de facto capital of the Pacific Rim, a seamless hub of educational experience — national and international. That’s what our vision is here.”