Foundation gift bolsters growth of Korean studies at the university

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World Languages Institute

Foundation gift bolsters growth of Korean studies at the university

THE KOREA FOUNDATION of Seoul, Korea, has made a grant of $70,000 to the World Languages Institute's Korean Language and Culture Program in the university's Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.

The grant, the first UB has received from the major government agency of the Republic of Korea that supports Korean studies overseas, will assist in funding a full-time lecturer in Korean language and culture.

In its third year of operation, the foundation has committed major funds to highly prestigious universities such as Harvard, Columbia, University of Michigan, University of California/Berkeley, University of Texas/Austin and the University of Hawaii.

Among the Asian languages currently offered by UB, Korean ranks second in total enrollment to Japanese. In 1994-95, the World Languages Institute's Korean program attracted more than 140 students, many of whom are Korean-American.

"For these students, Korean instruction is an important means of developing their cultural identity and opening up career opportunities that demand fluency in Korean and a knowledge of Korean and American culture," noted Mark A. Ashwill, director of the World Languages Institute.

Kerry S. Grant, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Letters, said the immediate goal of UB's Korean program is to introduce a four-year sequence of classroom language and culture courses and to significantly increase the visibility of, and interaction with, Korean culture and Korean institutions at UB.

"Korea Foundation assistance will enable UB to build upon a solid base that has been established over the past 14 years," he added.

Like other World Languages Institute classroom offerings, the Korean program uses an innovative, team-teaching approach and has embraced computer-assisted instructional methods.

A program in Korean Language and Culture has been offered at UB since 1981 through the dedicated efforts of Sek Yen Kim-Cho, who has devoted her life to helping Korean-Americans live in a multicultural society while maintaining a strong ethnic and cultural identity through the study of language and culture.

In addition to academic pursuits, she and her husband, Kah Kyung Cho, SUNY distinguished professor of philosophy, have spearheaded a campaign to attract private support for the Korean language and culture program at UB. As a result of their efforts, the university has received more than $350,000 in gifts and pledges since October 1994. These private funds, along with the support from the Korea Foundation, will be used to secure matching resources from the university to support a full-time, tenure-track professorship position.

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