President builds relations in China, South Korea, Hong KongTweet
Binghamton University’s ideal Asian partners include companies, other universities, high schools, governments and alumni.
So it was only natural that President Harvey Stenger’s recent trip abroad would be spent connecting with University partners in all these categories in China, Korea and Hong Kong.
“We were trying to make strategic, personal, deep and focused relationships with entities who make ideal partners,” said Stenger, who visited Asia for 10 days at the end of March.
The trip began in South Korea, where Stenger was accompanied by Bahgat Sammakia, vice president for research; Krishnaswami “Hari” Srihari, dean of the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science; Seungbae “S.B.” Park, associate professor of mechanical engineering; Daryl Santos, professor and director of the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center; and Amanda Bailor, international alumni and career connections coordinator for Watson.
The group visited Samsung Techwin, a $3 billion/year safety- and energy-solutions corporation founded in 1977. Park’s work with Samsung Techwin CEO Cheol Kyo Kim opened the door for a Binghamton-Samsung partnership – a partnership made even stronger when the two sides agreed to a student internship program at the company in which 10 Binghamton students will spend their summer at Samsung in a fully paid internship. The agreement is for a five-year period and this year’s announcement had already attracted 75 applicants for the program.
“This important division of a world-famous company has picked us as the first university to create this kind of relationship,” Stenger said.
While in South Korea, Stenger and his colleagues also met with leaders from LG Healthcare, S.K. Chemicals and Samsung Displays, and visited the SUNY Korea campus and the Korea Advanced Institute of Service and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon.
Among the Korean highlights for Stenger was an alumni reception organized by Bailor and held March 23 at the Renaissance Seoul Hotel, and attended by more than 100 Binghamton alumni.
Alumni ranged from a 1972 PhD graduate to several who had graduated in 2012, and even included an undergraduate student, Stenger said.
“It was one of the best alumni events I have ever attended,” he said.
After four days in South Korea, Stenger traveled to China, where he joined Zu-yan Chen, Binghamton University professor of Chinese language and literature and director of the Confucius Institute of Chinese Opera, and Katharine Krebs, vice provost for international affairs and director of the Office of International Programs. Their first event was a lunch with 12 alumni who lived in the Beijing area.
In Beijing, the group met with the directors of the Hanban, the organization that oversees the Confucius Institute. While there, Chen discussed Binghamton’s proposal to create a student-led Chinese theater program that would tour the United States and China. Stenger said that the Binghamton team was scheduled to meet with Madame Xu-Lin, director-general of the Hanban, but she had to travel with China’s new prime minister, Li Keqiang, at the last minute.
“Prime minister of China or president of Binghamton?” Stenger said with a laugh. “The prime minister of China wins that one!”
The group also visited its Confucius Institute university partner: the National Academy for Chinese Theater Arts (NACTA), which greatly impressed Stenger and where Binghamton University junior Carrie Buck is studying this spring.
“It was like being at the school in (the movie and TV show) ‘Fame,’” he said. “You walk down the hall and there are students playing Chinese instruments, singing and dancing. We went into four or five classrooms and in each classroom the students performed for us.”
Following the NACTA visit, Stenger, Krebs and Chen took a high speed train to Zhenjiang, a city of 3 million on the Yangtze River that is “booming with growth,” Stenger said. It is also the home of the Zhenjiang International School, which has formed a partnership with Binghamton University that provides Binghamton faculty and students with the opportunity to teach there, while giving ZIS high-school students the chance to take Binghamton University courses and eventually attend Binghamton University. While at ZIS, Stenger met with the first four students who will become Binghamton undergraduates this fall.
Stenger, Krebs and Chen then met up with Thomas Sinclair, associate professor of public administration, and Stacy Marrow, coordinator of student services and international programs for the College of Community of Public Affairs, at Shenzhen University in the city of Shenzhen, where Sinclair has been active in building an international partnership. Stenger and Shenzhen officials discussed expanding the partnership and signed a letter of understanding allowing new partnership ideas to be started.
The last stop was Hong Kong, where alumni Dan Perry ’00 and Richard Chow ’74 hosted an alumni dinner with Stenger, Krebs, Chen, Marrow and Sinclair. The dinner with 18 alums was held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club on March 28.
“Overall my experience was extremely positive,” Stenger said. “To visit with 10 existing partners and hold three alumni events over a 10-day period and to make progress with each visit and event took a lot of work by lots of people, but it was certainly well worth the effort. We enroll 1,200 students from China and South Korea, and the stronger our relationships there, the better we will be able to attract the best students and build the best partnerships.”
The president praised the work of Krebs, Chen, Sinclair and Marrow in China and Hong Kong and the work of Park, Srhirari, Santos, Bailor and Sammakia, who guided Stenger in China and Korea, respectively.
“Without their planning and support, this trip would not have been possible,” he said.