Release Date: February 16, 2021
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Nojin Kwak, professor and chair of the Department of Communication and Media and director of the Nam Center for Korean Studies at the University of Michigan, has been named vice provost for international education at the University at Buffalo.
Kwak’s appointment, announced today by Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs A. Scott Weber, followed an international search and is effective this summer.
“Dr. Kwak stood out because of his impressive leadership experience, commitment to international research programs and student experience, innovative approach to building partnerships, dedication to inclusive excellence, and creative vision for the future of international programs at UB,” Weber said in an email to the campus.
Weber said Kwak, an acclaimed media and communication scholar with a deep record of fostering international research and education programs, emerged from a highly competitive pool of candidates.
As vice provost for international education, Kwak will serve as UB’s senior international officer, responsible for leading central international research and academic programs and services, and for working with UB stakeholders and partners around the world to advance the university’s mission. UB has long been a global leader in international education. Ranked among the nation’s top 30 colleges and universities for international student enrollment for the past 18 years, UB’s international students come from more than 100 countries, with China, India, South Korea, Canada, Taiwan, Iran, and Turkey leading the way.
Kwak will oversee all student services for international students; study abroad and exchange programs; overseas academic programs and partnerships; and immigration services for foreign-national employees and for visiting scholars from overseas. He will liaise with overseas partner institutions, international delegations, international education organizations, and federal agencies involved in global education and exchange. Additionally he will partner with deans and faculty members to support the internationalization of university curricula, and the growth of international research and training partnerships.
As director of Michigan’s Nam Center for Korean Studies, Kwak leads an extra-departmental academic unit that serves faculty, students and the surrounding community by fostering learning about Korean language, culture, and history via programming, scholarships, and research funding.
Under his leadership, the center launched undergraduate and graduate fellows programs; established summer study abroad scholarships; expanded educational, research and mentorship programs; and positioned the university as a hub within the Korean studies scholarly community.
He secured more than $13.6 million in grants and gifts, including a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education to collaborate with other area centers to offer educational and research programming, such as the University of Puerto Rico Symposium, East Asia K-12 workshops and foreign language instruction.
Additionally, Kwak serves as the founding director of the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) Korean Studies e-School, an innovative course-share consortium. One of the few consortiums to be officially designated by the Korea Foundation Global e-School Initiative, the BTAA e-School is composed of 13 world-class research institutions that collaborate to offer courses and share expertise and resources throughout the Midwest.
Kwak earned an MA and a PhD in mass communication from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. A prolific author, his research centers on the role of social and digital media in civic and political engagement, and he has received numerous top paper awards at major conferences.
He has served as president of the Korean American Communication Association, and is a co-editor of a book series, Perspectives on Contemporary Korea. In recognition of his contributions to campus diversity — particularly in the area of international and intercultural diversity — Kwak received the Harold J. Johnson Diversity Service Award from the University of Michigan.
In the memo, Weber thanked John Wood, who has served as interim vice provost for international education since 2018, “for his outstanding leadership and continued service to UB.”
Weber also thanked the search committee, including the committee’s chair D. Munroe Eagles, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science.