Nojin Kwak, Ph.D., joined the University at Buffalo in August of 2021 as vice provost for international education and professor in the Department of Communication. As vice provost for international education, Dr. Kwak serves 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. Dr. Kwak oversees all student services for international students; study abroad and exchange programs; overseas academic programs and partnerships; immigration services for foreign-national employees and for visiting scholars from overseas; UB-SIM campus in Singapore. He liaises with overseas partner institutions, international delegations, international education organizations, and federal agencies involved in global education and exchange. Additionally, he partners with deans and faculty members to support the internationalization of university curricula, the growth of international research, and the expansion of education abroad opportunities.
Dr. Kwak’s research centers on the role of communication media – social media, mobile telephony, and other digital platforms—in civic and political engagement. His work has appeared in leading publications in the field, including Communication Research, Journal of Communication, Human Communication Research, Political Communication, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, New Media and Society, Political Research Quarterly, and Asian Journal of Communication and received numerous top paper awards at major conferences. His recent studies analyze the patterns of social media use and their influence on community involvement, deliberative openness, political persuasion, and political participation. He is a co-director of the Communication and Emerging Media (CEM) Lab in the department of Communication.
Previously, Dr. Kwak served as professor and chair of the Department of Communication and Media and director of the Nam center for Korean studies at the University of Michigan. As the chair, he led an interdisciplinary department, with social scientists and humanists working alongside each other, to study communication and media. Major accomplishments as the department chair includes: implementing various Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, including launch of the DEI committee; directing implementation of the new “3 plus” curriculum (2:1 teaching load); introduction of new undergraduate initiatives including the expansion of the Honors Program into the more accessible Senior Thesis Program as well as launch of an UG Fellows Program, an UG Research Showcase, and a short-term immersive internship program; revamping graduate funding model to strengthen graduate research; implementing a formal faculty mentorship process; commencing qualitative and quantitative methodology workshops; developing a competitive postdoctoral fellows program to help strengthen and support faculty research; and applying a strategic alumni outreach and engagement program.
As director of the University of Michigan’s Nam Center for Korean Studies, Dr. Kwak led 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.
In his role as the chair and the director, Dr. Kwak secured more than $14 million in grants and gifts from individual donors, foundations, and government agencies, including a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education, both domestically and internationally. The gifts and grants support a variety of department and center initiatives, including the establishment of an endowed professorship, scholarships, research support, internship, curricular innovation, and public programming, among others. Additionally, Dr. Kwak served 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 greater Midwest.
Dr. Kwak earned an MA and a PhD in mass communication from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He served as president of the Korean American Communication Association and was a co-editor of a University of Michigan Press’s book series, Perspectives on Contemporary Korea. In recognition of his contributions to campus diversity — particularly in the area of international and intercultural diversity — Dr. Kwak received the Harold J. Johnson Diversity Service Award from the University of Michigan.