The right hand doesn’t know what left hand did. Undergraduate students may not feel much connection to previous alumnae. However, currently enrolled students receive unnoticed help from alumnae everywhere in Sookmyung. Have you ever noticed places about campus named after Sookmyung Women’s University alumnae? You have likely taken a class, rested, or enjoyed a school concert at of those places. They are there to commemorate the generous donations to the school and students by alumni. The facilities teach us about our alma mater alumnae without showing off.
Places helped by Alumnae
At Sookmyung, alumnae can donate funds through the Office of Fundraising and Development. These funds are used to develop our undergraduate education system, support our scholarship program, and aid in the provisions of services and facilities. There are many different donation areas and campaigns, and many alumnae have been donating to them. To recognize alumnae support, the Office of Fundraising and Development has named several school facilities after alumnae names, baptismal names or names that the alumnae were called in their childhood. There are several special places you can find this: Sookyeondang, a hall located in the College of Music, Immanuel Hall located in the Renaissance Plaza, on school benches, and in a number of classrooms
Sookyeondang and Immanuel Hall
Alumnae who donate to the development fund for Sookyeondang or Immanuel Hall have their names displayed on the chairs in those halls. Messages sent to Sookmyung, alumnae families or organization names can also be found carved onto the chairs. Donations are added to the school’s development fund and used in various ways to improve the education students receive.
Alumnae can have their names sketched onto a school bench, but to do so an anlumni must donate about one million won. Besides alumnae names, associations and departments can get their names placed on the benches as well. Also, alumnae can register their families’ names together with their own names. There is one bench on campus that has both the alumni’s name and the alumni’s daughter’s name. Currently, according to SMT’s field research, there are twelve alumnae, six alumni associations, and one leadership group, Polaris, with names on the benches.
To commemorate alumnae who have shown love and support to Sookmyung for a long time, classrooms were named after alumnae. Alumnae names are written on classrooms for people who donate more than 100 million won to the development fund. The alumni baptismal names or childhood names can be used instead of the person’s real name. 39 classrooms around campus have alumnae names craved on them.
1) Gemma Hall / Hwang Gemma
Whether or not you take a course in the College of Pharmacy, students have most likely passed or have heard of Gemma Hall. The classroom was named after alumna, Hwang Gemma who graduated from the Department of Home Management in 1959. After graduating from Sookmyung Women’s University, she became a nutritionist in the U.S.A. Since 1996, she has donated more than 3 billion won to the school for the advancement of Sookmyung Women’s University. She has also supported international students studying at Sookmyung Women’s University by offering them scholarships. Since her first donation to Sookmyung Women’s University, she has always said, “I want my school to be the most prestigious women’s university in the world.”1 Sookmyung Women’s University named Classroom B107 in the College of Pharmacy Gemma Hall on September 1st, 2000. The name Gemma Hall is a great indicator of our love for her generosity.
2) Han Sangeun lounge / Han Sangeun
Students will have also heard of the Han Sangeun Lounge in the Centennial Hall located on the 7th floor. A lot of events take place there like the opening ceremonies of projects or departmental congratulatory parties. The classroom 701 in the Centennial Hall is named after Han Sangeun, who donated two billion won at Sookmyung Women’s University’s 100th anniversary in 2005. Han Sangeun graduated from Department of Korean Language & Literature in 1964, and she has become a business leader operating her own traditional alcoholic beverage company. Her three offspring have opened similar businesses by the names of Kooksoondang, Nurookdoga, and Beasangmyunbrewery, all of which have become very successful traditional alcoholic beverage corporations. The donation by Han Sangeun shows her love for Sookmyung, which helped her on her way to become a business leader.
3) Yi Gyeongsun DICA Plaza / Jo Seonhye
Whenever students go to the library, they might pass by the Yi Gyeongsun DICA Plaza, which provides Sookmyungians with convenient computer services. The place is named after alumna, Jo Seonhye’s mother. Jo Seonhye graduated from the Department of Medical & Pharmaceutical Science in 1977. She became CEO of Geoyoung corporation following her mother’s guidance and idea that women desire an education. She won the Bronze Tower Industrial Award in 2014 and was selected an Asian woman of power by Forbes, which is a very famous magazine. She donated four billion won for the advancement of Sookmyung Women’s University. In appreciation of her support, Sookmyng Women’s University named the DICA Plaza after her mother’s name in the Main Library. Her mother, Yi Gyeongsun, also graduated from Sookmyung Women University’s Department of Home Management in 1948.
4) College of Pharmacy Room 201 and 301 / Jeong Youngja
On February 26th 2001, the College of Pharmacy rooms 201 and 301 were renamed Jeong Youngja. Jeong Youngja graduated from the College of Pharmacy in 1965 and became to CEO of Jong Oh Pharmacy. She is now representative of the Jong Oh Foundation. Following in the footsteps of her mother’s belief that people should help others in more financial difficulties, she has always tried to help in need. In 1995, she donated one billion won to help students. Until now, she has donated about 20 billion won to Sookmyung Women’s University. She said, “I decided to donate to my alma mater because when my school shines, I shine, too. Whenever students who receive my financial support visit me on a traditional holiday or drop a letter of appreciation, I never let them forget how precious they are to me.” 2 Sookmyung Women’s University shows its appreciation to her by naming two classrooms after her.
5) College of Fine arts Room B161 / Moon Ilgyung
Moon Ilgyung graduated from the Department of Industrial Design in 1968 and was corporate director of Sookmyung School Foundation. Moon Ilgyung and her husband Lee Hwail, Honorary President of Chosun Refractories, have donated to the Sookmyung development fund and to a variety of other scholarships since the start of ‘The Second Foundation', which arose from the ‘Comprehensive Development Plan for 100th anniversary’ in 1995 and ran till 2006. The couple has also donated to the construction of Sookmyung’s Engineering facility in 2015. The total amount of support given by the couple is more than one hundred million won. To commemorate the couple’s contribution to Sookmyung, the classroom B161 in the College of Fine arts were named Moon Ilgyung and Lee Hwail, respectively on May 25th, 2000.
Thanks to Unnoticed Help
One typical prejudice people have towards a women’s university is that its students are more individualist than students at co-ed schools, so close relationships between upper- and lower-year students are rare. However, for three months from July to October in 2014, over 200 alumnae and alumnae associations raised funds for the Sookmyung development fund. Alumnae also donated to the College of Music by setting up scholarships instead of establishing an alumnae association. In September, Sookmyung Women’s University Alumnae organized a petition signing and then visited the university president and deans of related institutes to protest the school’s one-sided decision to allow men to enter Sookmyung’s Graduate School. Sookmyungians cooperated with Sookmyung Women’s University Alumnae and participated in alumnae’s movement against the school’s non-democratic decision. Everyone expressed strong objections through the petition, social gatherings, and online school communities. Thanks to alumnae and presently enrolled students, the school disallowed the committee’s decision and cancelled its plan to allow men to apply to Sookmyung’s Graduate School. Without the strong objection and campaign efforts by the alumnae, it would have been hard for Sookmyung to maintain its identity as a women’s university. Alumnae and various associations did their best to ensure current students have access to better study conditions and school facilities. The petition signing was a great way to connect enrolled students with alumnae, but that is not enough. Many students now notice the names of alumnae around the campus, but they are unaware of the reason for naming certain places after alumnae. To develop and nurture students’ love of Sookmyung, placards need to include not only alumnae names but additional information about the alumnae.
1 SMNEWS, "My Lifelng Desire is My School is To Be the Best in the World." SMNEWS, August 30, 2013
2 SMNEWS, "When My School Shies, I Shine, Too," SMNEWS, June 19, 2012