Friday, February 11, 2011

Sogang a 21st Century University

Sogang University is the only Jesuit School among the  Catholic colleges in  Korea.  Started in 1960 it has  developed into a first class university, and is looking forward to improving its image in the years ahead.

The Chosun Ilbo had a special spread on the university in a recent issue. The article mentioned that some  critics say the reason it has gained so much respect and is  considered one of the best schools in Korea, is  the tradition of being for the students. There is a good reason to suspect this. The  students reply that you miss five classes, and you flunk the course and during a semester you are assigned seats in the lecture hall. Can we say that this puts the  students at the center? A sure sign that the emphasis is always on how to improve  student performance and not only give the students what they want.

The president of the university, an alumnus with a doctorate in history, recalled that in the early years of the university only half of the students would graduate. The school has the reputation of being like a high school: they do not manipulate grades and the business community respects that, and has come to expect that the students from Sogang will be well-educated. In fact, in the ranking of private colleges in Korea, Sogang is number one in many areas of study.

The DNA of Sogang, the president says, is freedom. Students are free to attend any class, and the school will at times offer courses even when less than ten students have registered for them. They are also free to take two or three majors.

The president goes on to say that the students that come to Sogang are outstanding but at graduation, about to go out into society, they are more so. His vision for the future is to stress the importance of educating the whole person, increase the competence of the teaching staff, work together with the business community, internationlize the relationship with those who are in research, and to find ways the administration can be even more helpful to those they serve.

The interviewer asked the president what would he have to say to those making a choice of a college in the year 2012. "Sogang is not the first or second when it comes to bigness, judging by the campus or the number of teachers or students. The strength of Sogang is in scholastic matters. We are  routinely strict in the running of the school. You are free to take any class and more than one major, giving you a chance to develop your interest in many areas. For those who want  a school that will develop their unlimited potential, then Sogang is their school.  Sogang," he says with confidence, "is truly a great  college."