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President Loh’s Asia Trip

Dear University of Maryland community:

I would like to share with you the results of a recent, one-week visit to Taiwan and South Korea.  I led a small delegation of faculty, deans, and staff to "show the flag" of the University of Maryland. We met with top government officials and university presidents.  We visited campuses, research parks, and companies.  Our community and the State of Maryland will benefit from the educational and research partnerships we brought home.

In Taiwan, we were warmly welcomed by President Ma Ying-jeou (as a student, he did legal research at the University of Maryland), Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling, and Deputy Minister Henry Sun of the National Science Council.  

We established collaborations with an innovation park that specializes in semiconductor and optoelectronics research, known as Taiwan's Silicon Valley. We entered into a research alliance with the multinational Tatung electronics firm.  The board chairman, W. S. Lin, is a Terp and president of the Maryland Alumni Club in Taiwan, over 200 strong. We signed academic agreements with two of Taiwan's national universities and laid the groundwork for future ties with five others. 

In South Korea, we met with Minister of Trade Taeho Bark, who oversees economic development. We talked with faculty and administrators at three universities.  At the headquarters of Samsung, we were welcomed by the president of the semiconductor division, Dr. Stephen Woo, a Terp.  

At both Taipei and Seoul, we hosted receptions for large numbers of enthusiastic Maryland alumni.  Some were recent Bachelors' graduates and most were Masters' and PhD graduates going back four decades. I was delighted to greet some current Maryland undergraduates who are studying there.

So what will this visit mean for our students and faculty?  The relationships we established or deepened will open doors for new international opportunities.

Some will materialize almost immediately.  For example, National Central University of Taiwan will provide several full scholarships to Maryland students to study language and culture there for a month each August, starting this summer.  The National Institute for International Education and Development in South Korea is allotting up to 20 awards yearly for Maryland students or graduates to teach English in Korean schools for a year, with salary and airfare included.  

Taiwan's Ministry of Education offered five scholarships for Taiwanese students to study at the University of Maryland.  At Seoul National University and at some Taiwan universities, we agreed to develop joint innovation and entrepreneurship competitions involving their students and Maryland students, akin to the competitions we now have in China and Israel.  

In the coming months, more students will be able to take courses co-taught by Maryland faculty and Asian faculty via live, interactive video links to their classrooms. There will likely be more opportunities for dual degrees and other educational exchanges.

Cutting-edge research in world-class facilities is taking place at these universities.  We visited with scholars in fields as diverse as remote sensing, neural development, and cultural studies.  We laid the groundwork for our faculty and students to collaborate with their Asian counterparts in research and teaching. 

Taiwan and South Korea are making huge investments in research and education.  As nations with few natural resources but abundant human capital, they have embraced innovation as the future and entrepreneurship as a way of life.  Theirs is a rising Asian "i-Pod Generation" -- they want to control the menu for their lives and march to their own entrepreneurial tune.  

I saw the close coordination there among universities, government, and industry.  We can borrow from their success by increasing our own three-way partnerships in the U.S.

Globalization in higher education is a reality. Talent and ideas circulate across national boundaries.  Our students live in an age where they must know how to collaborate and compete with their counterparts from around the world.  Many of our alumni serve on university faculties in these countries.  Many of their alumni now teach at the University of Maryland. The strength of our collaborations comes not from legal documents, but from the growing personal ties that bind us.

Further campus-to-campus negotiations will follow this "showing-the-flag" visit.  We will make the most of these openings for our campus and the State of Maryland.  

Our partners and competitors in these nations -- and they are both -- are not standing still.  At Maryland, we must continue our upward march as a research university and as an innovation and entrepreneurship university.  


Wallace D. Loh
President, University of Maryland