Audrey Hepburn’s last words: “For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.” This also holds true for Lee Woo-young’s (’59, Dept. of Political Science & Int. Studies) mindset concerning education. After getting his Master and Doctor of Business Administration, he began teaching at MichiganUniversity. However, he decided to come back to Korea and taught at SogangUniv. Not only was he a dedicated professor but he also served as Vice President of Sogang Univ. for two consecutive terms until he retired. Furthermore, he is now president of KoreaCyberUniversity. His passion for shaping and influencing the lives of others through distinguished education blazes fiercely.
Where does Korea Cyber Univ.’s competitiveness and potential come from?
The biggest difference as well as the strength of a cyber university is that lectures are all conducted online. We are living in a rapidly changing world where importance of knowledge is stressed more than ever. In accordance with and response to such phenomena of constant renewal of information flow, Korea Cyber Univ. pursues a more accessible and lifelong education for students. People are becoming busier and busier, and are bound by space constraints. I believe that issues of space should not be the off-putting factor of disturbing one’s access to education. As far as offline universities, students are obliged to attend the lectures at a given time, in a fixed room. However, online universities allow highly flexible use of time because all you need is a computer and internet in order to listen to the lectures. As Peter Drucker, a worldwide renowned management consultant claims, “The future of education lies outside university campuses.” The target of education should not be limited to young people but be also easily available to people who are not easily exposed to education such as the disabled, housewives, prisoners, and people living in the countryside. In fact, with the tuition fee that costs only one third of an offline university, it enables people to get better access to education with less financial burden. Furthermore, Korea Cyber Univ. is associated with a consortium of 57 conventional universities including YonseiUniv., where students can be exposed to high quality education.
Did you imagine yourself being where you are right now?
Starting from freshman year, I had planned to take the national examination and become a diplomat. At that time, YonseiUniv. was the leader of globally oriented education and provided various opportunities for students to be opened to lectures of competent and renowned professors who received their degrees abroad at prestigious schools, which was not common during that period of time. I was more and more seized by their lectures so I decided that I would become a professor who would influence students’ minds and visions in a positive and constructive way. I must say that my family also had a great influence in settling my career because there are lots of professors on my mother’s side of the family, including the president of Seoul National Univ.
What is your most challenging memory during your life as a student?
The toughest moment I remember is when I went to study abroad for a year in the United States. At that time, Korea was still a poor country and chances of getting scholarships were not as high as there are today. Even though I did not come from a deprived family, my parents could not totally afford my studies abroad. I left for Chicago with only $200. The materials taught were already difficult enough, and, on top of that, the financial problems were too much of a burden for me. Therefore, I decided to earn the tuition fee for a year and then start over again. I had 3 jobs and all of them were labor intensive. The physical as well as mental sufferings were great, but I had a goal to attain and rushed for it. I often skipped meals and worked overtime even during weekends. I worked approximately 16 hours a day.
Among the three jobs, the most unforgettable experience I had was working at a chocolate factory’s warehouse. I promised myself I would be acknowledged by the manager in charge of the warehouse and get his trust. I worked very hard and with diligence, twice as much as other employees. The manager was touched as he saw the effort I made for the company, and enlarged my position to the shipping section as well. During the period I was in charge, not even one box went missing and this is thanks to the manager who taught me two crucial rules in correctly performing the assigned task. The first one is “Don’t trust others” and the second one is “Don’t trust yourself as well.” That way I could stay constantly concentrated during working hours and did not make a single mistake. I am still very thankful to the manager who taught me the right mindset to adopt when it comes to work and the fact that diligence and hard work do pay off.
What is your definition of “education”?
First and foremost, what matters in education is shaping an individual’s personality. It is truly essential to be beautiful on the inside, then the outer beauty will naturally reveal itself. A person should be able to work for the local society as well as for the global community. If not, even if a person has the knowledge, it can be used as a lethal weapon against the weak and minorities of the society. As far as I am concerned, the economic crisis we are going through is the result of the work of highly-educated people from Harvard and other Ivy League institutions. These people, who usually occupy the core positions in the government, are sure geniuses but most of the time are blinded by their greed and eagerness to increase their wealth. They believe that the ends can justify the means which implies that they hardly have any sense of responsibility toward the society they are living in. Knowledge should be founded upon ethics and morality. Individualism should disappear and the primary quality one should have is affection towards all people.
Any last words to Yonseians?
Yonseians, be classy; classy not only in the meaning of external appeal but above all inner attraction. I was not a Christian in my college years but it was during those times that I began settling thoughts about my future and vision. The sermons I carefully listened to during Chapel about the Christian mindset and global state of mind helped build my personality and attributes that I bear now. Knowledge is important but I believe that there is a much more important thing than that, which is to cultivate one’s personality and inner values. I remember Audrey Hepburn’s famous quotation “Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it's at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: the first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.” The reason she is still deep in our memories despite the years is because she gave up her fame when she was at the top of her career to help underprivileged children. Be a global-minded person who knows how to embrace and share his or her life with others.