The University has signed a five-year, $5-million agreement with the Seoul-based Korea Foundation to promote Korean studies at Penn. Both sides are contributing $2.5 million toward an endowment that will support the salaries of endowed professors — to be collectively known as the Korea Foundation Professors — as well as visiting professors, graduate fellowships, academic-research conferences, seminars, and the expansion of the Korean collection in Van Pelt Library.
“Over the past decade, we have established high-quality programming in Korean studies, significantly augmenting faculty, course offerings, links with Korean universities, and outreach,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, CW’66, president of the University, during a signing ceremony last month. The agreement, she added, will help Penn “increase the number of Korean specialists on the faculty to create a critical mass in the discipline.” One of the endowed chairs will be in the humanities, another will be in the social sciences, and a third may be in another discipline still to be determined. Korean Ambassador Joungwon Kim, who heads the foundation, also signed the agreement.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Korea Foundation now supplies “about 85 percent of the money that supports Korean studies in the United States.” The article quoted two scholars who suggested the money implicitly came with strings attached, though it also quoted others who said it did not. Virginia Clark, Penn’s vice president of development and alumni relations, said the University would not have accepted a gift if “strings were attached,” and added: “We feel that in our conversations they have been very philanthropic in their intent.”
The Korea Foundation’s grant is not the only funding received by the University recently. In January, Jon M. Huntsman, W’59, Hon’96, the chairman and CEO of Huntsman Chemical Corporation, gave $10 million to endow Penn’s International Studies and Business Program. The undergraduate program, which combines international studies with foreign-language and business education, was established in 1994.
The Graduate School of Education also received a $1 million research training grant from the Spencer Foundation to support “innovation” in public education. Dr. Susan Fuhrman, dean of the school, said the money will support “research projects focused on school and community issues, primarily in West Philadelphia.”