Classes begin at Mason's campus in South Korea

Mason's campus in Songdo began classes on March 3rd (photo courtesy of Sangmin Kim)
Mason's campus in Songdo began classes on March 3rd (photo courtesy of Sangmin Kim)

March 3 marks the beginning of a new opportunity for Mason as the new Songdo campus in South Korea will hold its first classes of the spring semester. Opening celebration events will take place on March 9 and 10. Mason alumni, business, education and media contacts will be invited to attend the opening ceremony events, Events and Outreach Director Jim Burke said.

March 9 will feature a vision lecture by Provost Peter Stearns entitled "World History and Regional Powers." However, the official opening ceremony will take place on March 10.

"There will be remarks by President Cabrera, by high-ranking Korean government officials including the Mayor of Incheon and special recognition of each member of the Mason Korea Class of 2018," Vice President of Global Strategies, Anne Schiller, said.

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the Mason Korea building, which will be ready for classes in 2015, will also take place on the tenth. Six American students and about 35 Korean students moved onto the campus on Feb. 26 and attended a new student orientation that lasted until Feb 27. The orientation involved meeting the Mason Korea faculty and staff as well as a presentation by Mason Korea Provost and Interim President, Matthew Zingraff.

"Our new students and their families, and our Virginia students now in Korea, met the faculty and the Mason Korea staff, enjoyed a video greeting from the Fairfax campus, listened to a presentation by the President Zingraff of Mason Korea on the importance of Academic Integrity and began to grow together in Mason Spirit," Schiller said.

Since the campus will include students of a multitude of backgrounds, two International Peer Advisors will be engaging all of the students to help create cross-cultural connections. The advisors will help organize events to help students come together. Despite cultural differences, Mason Korea students share the same valued characteristics of students on the main campus.

"Our students in Korea are creative, globally aware and academically talented, just like our students in the States," Schiller said.

Korean students in Mason Korea were required to demonstrate English proficiency through the TOEFL or IELTS examinations. However, other admissions requirements were the same as those of American students.

"Admissions requirements were the exact same as the main campus so we worked with the admissions office here because they actually review all the applications," Burke said.

Due to the limited majors offered on the Songdo campus, there was no formal application process for the American students studying in Songdo. The six students were recruited based on their majors and credits. The only requirement was that the trip would keep students on track to graduate on time, according to Burke.

The recruitment process for the spring semester was narrow due to the limited number of majors being offered at the campus. Fall recruitment, however, will be broader. The Class of 2018 consists of Economics and Management majors, however more majors will be offered soon after this semester, according to Schiller.

"Global Affairs will be on the ground next year. We expect to launch our MBA in 2015 with more majors and graduate programs to follow soon. In summer 2015, the Office of Global Strategies will launch a new study abroad program at Songdo, and we are very excited to get the word out about it," Schiller said.

In the upcoming fall semester, Mason plans on reaching out to students in China, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia.

"The idea has been this campus is Mason's foothold in East Asia and it really is treated that way and recruitment will sort of reflect that in the fall entry point," Burke said.

According to Burke, Songdo, South Korea was chosen because of its proximity to Seoul and its location in a region with much to offer all fields of study.

"Having a global mindset is a defining characteristic of Mason’s students and faculty members," Schiller said. "Our new strategic plan makes a promise –we will offer a meaningful international experience to every Mason student. Mason Korea is a lynchpin in Mason’s larger global vision. It gives us a base of operations in a dynamic world region."

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