We’re moving into a new phase of Mason’s Korea project – at last, an active implementation phase – but the preliminaries were sufficiently complex and prolonged that it’s worth commenting again on key highlights of the project.
We’re now committed to opening two programs for freshman in March of next year – in Management and in Economics – with several other programs to follow, at both undergraduate and Masters’ levels – in ensuing years. Several Mason faculty will be participating in the inaugural program. We have an acting Vice President now overseeing operations in Korea, and of course student recruitment is a high priority. We’re also working on identifying Mason students in Virginia who will profit from some initial programs in Songdo, particularly those focused on our new program in North Pacific studies.
The project involves collaboration with the Korean government and the Incheon Free Economic Zone and its educational foundation, which are among other things generously helping with initial financial support. We’ll be part of an international university complex which will also include SUNY- Stony Brooke, the University of Ghent, and other participants. Key buildings for the operation are already up and running, though a building will be expressly started for Mason next month, with completion in 2015.
Songdo itself is an immensely exciting urban development, which is one of the reasons to be there. Its location, within a few hours’ flight of a third of the world’s population, adds to the excitement, and obviously invites recruitment efforts not only in Korea but in other parts of Asia. We look forward to the resulting increase in our international student body. In the year these students will spend in Virginia the contribution to our global goals will be particularly direct.
The opportunity for Mason faculty and other students to participate in the Songdo project, through visits of varying duration, is also a key goal. Regional relations in the North Pacific are of immense importance in the global future, including the economic future, and direct exposure can be a key element in various research projects and in global education more generally. We expect various collaborations to emerge with Korean research partners and through a variety of internships.
This project results from a long period of careful planning and detailed negotiations. The careful preparation gives us considerable assurance of success. The excitement is also very real, and now that at last we can turn from planning to implementation we need to emphasize this aspect. Mason will be directly involved in a key region, in a key example of contemporary urban development, and it’s great to get going.