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Skorton and team meet alumni and forge friendships in Asia

As Cornell President David Skorton concludes his visit to Asia with three days in Beijing, reports from Tokyo, Korea, Hong Kong and Shanghai are making their way back to the campus via his administration team.

"The trip has gone well," wrote David Wippman, vice provost for international relations, in an e-mail. Skorton, Provost Biddy Martin and other members of the delegation received enthusiastic welcomes from alumni, participated in dialogues on collaborations and education reform, and conducted dozens of media interviews. And the trip isn't over yet. A few highlights:

Tokyo

Skorton met with Chiaki Tanuma, Hotel '80, president of the Cornell Club of Japan, regional vice president of the Cornell Hotel Society Asia Pacific Region and president and CEO of Green House Co. The club hosted a dinner and reception for Skorton Oct. 24 at Hotel Okura, with more than 70 alumni in attendance, including representatives from each college. The club presented a traditional Japanese handcrafted gift to the delegation.

"We were so impressed by President Skorton's speech," said Tanuma. "His respectful attitude to answering to questions from alumni showed us his heartiness and kindness. We were really amazed at his wide knowledge of some places in Japan, as we know he had visited Japan many times before becoming president of Cornell University.

"Participants at the reception hope that he will have an opportunity to come to Japan with his wife without business engagement and be able to freely enjoy Japan's rich heritage and culture."

Seoul

The Cornell Club of Korea welcomed Skorton with an all-alumni reception and dinner. Skorton spoke of his love of Tae Kwan-do, Korean food and culture, and the warmth and friendship he has received over the years from many Koreans. He praised Cornell alumni in South Korea for their dedication and noted the deep connection between Cornell and its alumni network throughout the world.

The club used the occasion to launch the Cornell Club of Korea Scholarship for Korean students at Cornell. "Our goal was to raise $50,000 by the end of 2008," said Hyun Kim, Law '84, the club's president and senior partner at Sechang Law Office. "Unexpectedly, due to President Skorton's visit, which stimulated Cornell Club of Korea members, we succeeded in raising $53,000 this month."

The event also included a toast to Skorton by Cornell alumnus Sunggi Baik, Ph.D '81, president of Pohang University of Science and Technology. Best Cornellian awards were given to Justice Sang-hyun Song, JSD '70, and Kyung-bae Suh, president of Amore-Pacific, MBA '87.

"My time with Cornell was filled with many invaluable moments," said Suh in accepting the award. "I met with excellent students from many parts of the world, competed and co-worked with them through many nights, so that I could open my mind to the various cultures and people. Cornell is the pride of America, furthermore, a prominent global institute. I wholeheartedly wish that Cornell will forever be remembered as a name that brings peaceful and proud memories to all its members."

China

In Shanghai, the delegation met with presidents, senior administrators and faculty at Fudan, East China Normal and Shanghai Jiao Tong universities.

"With Fudan, we considered a wide range of possible areas of collaboration but especially in the humanities and performing arts," wrote Wippman. "With East China Normal, we also discussed collaboration in the humanities and how to develop further our cooperation in Cold War studies and the Cornell China College Preparatory Program. At Jiao Tong, we discussed ways to develop our collaborations in agriculture and engineering, especially nanoscience, a possible dual-degree program in agriculture, and student exchange and summer programs."

The Cornell delegation's final stop is Beijing, where there will be meetings at Peking University, Tsinghua University and Renmin University. Skorton is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with Peking University on the establishment of a distinguished lecture series.

Cornell public information officer Sabina Lee contributed to this story.

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