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Mason Korea

Mason Korea

I had the great pleasure of participating earlier this week in the official opening of Mason Korea, in Incheon. I have written about the project before, but it’s terrific to see it become reality – hence a special, off-cycle blog.

The operation is part of the Songdo Global University campus. It sits in a truly impressive physical facility, though by the end of 2015 Mason will have its own building on the site. The whole project signals Korea’s exceptional commitment not only to education, but to educational innovation and increased global interaction. The campus is also part of a rapidly-growing new city, already with over 200,000 inhabitants, about an hour away from Seoul.

Our own opening reflects the support and collaboration of our Korean partners, an exceptionally dedicated staff, and a number of faculty, both from Mason Fairfax and from some additional recruiting efforts. We feature programs in Economics and Management, with Global Affairs to be added next year. The opening itself was a true celebration, complete with University President and the Patriot mascot, both great hits—and an impressive amount of food.

Without question the most exciting part of the whole event involved the new students themselves. They are true pioneers, eager to participate in a new venture; they’re talented, impressively articulate, and extremely enthusiastic. The new students are all Korean, but from several different parts of the world including the United States, the Philippines and Uzbekistan—so they bring a cosmopolitan atmosphere on their own. The group is augmented by six students from Mason Fairfax, who are sharing in the semester while also taking some additional courses on Korean culture and language. It’s a terrific group—bringing reality to what has been a long planning process.

The first semester is just that, a beginning. We will be recruiting additional students for fall, including another Fairfax cohort. And of course there will be problems as we expand. But I really think we’re off to a strong start. Mason Korea will be a real resource for students of various sorts, an unusual opportunity for study abroad alongside our direct admissions. It will be a resource for faculty as well, from occasional visits to serious teaching and research engagement in one of the most interesting and important parts of the world. It also involves opportunities for additional relationships, with top Korean institutions—and we have several collaborations already—and with our partners at the global campus. This is an unusual cosmopolitan experiment, to which Mason will clearly contribute as part of our larger global commitment, but from which we will equally clearly benefit. It’s a privilege to have this opportunity, and I look forward to the further of this new Mason campus and to a growing set of interactions with Mason Virginia.