Campus ReportingCampus Issue
CEO Presidents Run to Raise More Cash
Seo Ja-kyung Assisstant Reporter  |  letmesmilej@naver.com
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승인 2006.03.01  00:00:00
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▲ Centennial Memorial Hall, Korea Univ. (Sponsored by Samsung)(Photographed by Chai Kyu-min)
UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS are now more than scholars; they are Chief Executive Officers (CEO) of their universities. Recently, these presidents have turned their backs on the classic image of the scholar and evolved into business-oriented CEOs. They have systemized the operating process of university administration, set up specific development plans, and, what's more, devised strategies to improve universites' financial status. As the wave of globalization and marketization hit Korean universities, the need to restructure arose and made university presidents roll up their sleeves and execute the nationwide revolution of universities. "All university presidents should become CEO presidents," says Euh Yoon-dae, the president of Korea Univ. in an interview with the Korean Economic Daily. Now, the strength of a university is measured by the strength of its president.

The new type of presidents takes over

  The previous career of current university presidents prove that presidents are no longer limited by traditional roles. "Presidents before the rise of CEO presidents were usually renowned scholars or admired educators with refined personalities," says Prof., Hwang Kum-joong (Dept., of Education). However, the new kind of presidents who specialize in administration and fundraising have rapidly eclipsed the stage. Most majored in either business or economics (refer to table), and made their careers in the corporate world. Following this trend, Sogang Univ., which used to restrict the position of president to priests, abolished its long-time tradition and nominated a non-priest, Son Byung-doo, the former vice president of the Federation of Korean Industries, as its new president in June, 2005.

  These newly appointed presidents are increasingly applying their tried-and-trust business strategies to fundraising for schools. Euh Yoon-dae, the President of Korea Univ., manufactured 20 thousand bottles of Korea University Wine to advertise the school's 100th anniversary last year. He made a trip around the world to strike deals with nearly 150 universities abroad. Such effort impressed prospective donors and pulled in nearly $200 million over the last two years. Son Byung-doo, the President of Sogang Univ., publicly declared his goal of collecting $100 million in funds for the school. His daily schedule is full of meetings with his personal connections including his former CEO associates, and lunch is often Kimbab on the way to his next appointment. He even donated congratulatory money from his son's wedding to the school's fund. "Obviously, presidents have more power than the staff of school to influence prospective donors. That's why presidents need to take action," says Kim Joo-hyun, a financer at Yonsei Univ.

  Fundraising is merely the icing on a cake of assignments and tasks for the new generation of university presidents. Mergers and reforms, familiar business practices are now the main tactics used to develop schools. Pres. Lee Kyung-suk of Sookmyung Women's Univ. reformed the school administration with a newly introduced team system. Managing human resources is another business method used. Presidents refuse to sit still when scouting for professors. Seo Jeong-don, the president of Sungkyungkwan Univ., succeeded in hiring Robert Glamkosky, the world-renowned honorary business professor of Indiana Univ., as Dean of the Graduate School of Business by persuading Glamkosky to become the "Hiddink of Korea's Business Education".

  Clearly, the borderline between college presidents and business CEOs is blurring. Lee Kyung-suk, the president of Sukmyung Women's Univ., was recently the first university president to be awarded the Korea Businessperson Award.

Why CEOs are needed for fundraising

  CEO presidents originated after the wave of Globalization finally hit the field of education. Now, Korean universities are destined to face the harsh reality that they must compete with international universities. Survival, which used to be guaranteed for most, will turn into a hardship unless universities strive hard to restructure the old education systems. In the process, ample funding is the key to accomplishing such reconstruction. "Fundraising is indispensable to the development of schools. Presidents have no choice but to focus on it," says Yu Jong-sun, director of The Associate of Financial managers of Private Universities. Nick Rudenstein, the former President of Harvard Univ., launched the "Capital Campaign" and increased the school? budget from $6 billion to $22.6 billion in ten years -a number larger than Korea's annual education budget in 2004, which was $2.6 billion. The budget of Korea Univ., is only 0.5% of that of Harvard Univ. "No reform is possible with insufficient funds," says Euh Yoon-dae, who once famously said, "Fundraising is the reason for my being," in an interview with the Korea Economic Daily.

  Obviously, presidents with minds for business are more apt to create effective fundraising strategies. "In order to cope with the fierce national and international competition, universities are choosing CEO presidents based on the strategic decision to aim for further development," says Song In-taek of the University and College Management and Consulting (UCMC). The majors and previous careers of current presidents prove that most universities are in desperate search for CEO-type innovators and leaders.

  Despite the dire financial situation at hand, efforts to revolutionize Korean universities have paid off for some schools. President Lee of Sookmyung Women's Univ. brought about "the age of Renaissance" after she initiated intense fundraising and specialization programs. Ever since, the college has escaped from its long-time deficit, and is now renowned for its TESOL program and the field of Information Technology. Another good example of a revolutionized university is Korea Univ., with its recent move to spend funds to expand its Liberal Arts program and make taking a double major mandatory for graduation. "CEO presidents are very quick in keeping up with the rapidly changing trends in education," says Prof. Hwang on the achievements of new presidents.

   
▲ Sang Nam Institute of Management, Yonsei Univ, (Sponsered by LG)(Photographed by Bang Hyun-duk)
The future of CEO presidents

  Despite these presidents' positive achievements, some critics are afraid that they are too attached to the neo-liberal mindset. "CEO presidents have damaged the identity of universities as 'sanctuaries of learning'," reportedly said professors of Korea Univ. in an interview with the Hankyoreh 21. Such critics do not want to see revenue overshadowing education. "Universities, including their presidents, are now going through a transitional period," says Prof., Hwang. University students also suggest another perspective on CEO presidents and their fundraising behavior. "I admit that fundraising is very important for schools. But the problem is that it is based on economic theories and undemocratic procedures," says Lee Sung-ho, the Pres., of the Student Association (SA). Another worry is that presidents fail to use the fundraised money effectively for school development. "I wonder what real 'development' means when the school still finds no solutions for chronic problems like large class sizes, course registration and the lack of water fountains even after earning a reasonable amount of money," continues Lee.

  To overcome current criticism, CEO presidents should be more than just CEOs. "Presidents should be democratic enough to reflect various opinions inside the school, and create systematic institutions composed of students to make them heard," continues Lee on future tasks of university presidents. Also, experts point out that university presidents need to merge the characteristics of both a scholar and CEO. "College presidents should be future-oriented leaders, who create specific goals grounded in both firm education and business philosophies," adds Song, a representative consultant at UCMC.

  University presidents are not the only ones who are destined for change; in fact, the whole school needs to change its paradigm. "An increase in the number of Science Citation Index (SCI) papers cannot simply lead to the overall development of education. Instead of just competing to grab more donors, Korean universities need to have a long-term perspective on their developmental plans. Growth cannot be achieved through mere fundraising but through pursuing the overall advancement of education," continues Hwang. Society, too, cannot escape from the wave of this transformation. "The cycle of donation triggering investment and investment again triggering another donation should emerge as a part of our society's culture," adds Yu Jong-sun, the director of The Associate of Financial Managers of Private Universities. Society as a whole should recognize the desperate need for ample funds and lift some of the burden from university presidents.

  A "CEO President" is only a temporary label for these new university presidents. Presidents present and future should take themselves to a higher level by absorbing the philosophy of true educators. However, no matter how perfect university presidents become, they cannot change the world without the help of society itself. Together, we must embark on the long struggle for survival in this new globalized world.

 

Jung Chang-young,
Pres. of Yonsei Univ.

Euh Yoon-dae,
Pres. of Korea Univ.

Son Byung-doo,
Pres. of Sogang Univ.

College Major

Economics

Business

Economics

Other Careers

Prof. of Economics at
Yonsei Univ.

Vice-President of National Economic Advisory Counsil

Vice-President of the Federation of Korean Industries

   
"Universities need more than just a CEO"

- Special Interview with Pres. Jung Chang-young  

  Annals: What do you think of the "CEO" presidents recently mentioned in newspapers? Do you agree with the idea of new type of CEO presidents?

  President: I personally pay little attention to what journalists and other colleges have to say. Corporations and universities have totally different value systems. Fundraising is a crucial part, but there is an even more important role that presidents should play. They should respect the human value, realizing the universal value of all human beings especially for Yonsei Univ., guiding the future of the nation.

  What do you think the ideal role of a president is?

  Presidents of universities should strive to advance schools' educational standards and produce great students who would not fall behind anywhere in the world as a result. The tasks that CEOs are supposed to carry out, which are fundraising and management, constitute only a little part of the work that university presidents do. In my case, I am trying to aim higher and focus on more important things like education and development of the school.

  In the recent interview with the president of the SA (Student Association), he said he hoped that you would play a role as a mediator between administration and students.

  I am very well aware of the fact that consensus-building is very important in decision-making procedure. But, I have to say that sometimes, democratic policy-making is impossible. In the case of the Songdo campus project, I had to keep everything secret because of the high confidentiality of information related to it. Openly sharing such information would just benefit other competing universities. It is always difficult to keep both the development of a school and democracy within the campus satisfied at the same time.

  Yonsei Univ., has just announced its plan to build a new campus in Songdo. What is the purpose behind drawing up these rather groundbreaking plans?

  I think Korean schools are falling far behind in satisfying the ideal characteristics of universities. The purpose of constructing the new campus, which is a critical long-term masterplan for Yonsei Univ., is to develop into a central hub of education and research. This is an inevitable, transitional step to go through to become a globally competitive university. Yonsei Univ.'s competitiors are not domestic universities but international universities. And this is just the start.

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