A girl who used to stroll along the Sookmyung Women’s University graduated from it. However she came back again and now she says she’ll willingly serve as a foundation for Sookmyung. An alumnae of SMU has now come back to willingly serve to inspire other students. In the upcoming semester, Sookmyungians will meet the new president of SMU. Her name is Hwang Sunhae, who graduated from the Department of English at Sookmyung Women’s University in 1976. In 1991, she returned to the campus as a professor to share her knowledge with students. Now she meets us as the 18th president, willing to share everything she has with SMU members. The Sookmyung Times (SMT) interviewed her first to hear about her plans of leading Sookmyung, her dreams, and the current position of SMU. During the whole interview, with gleaming eyes, she expressed her ambition to communicate with the members of SMU.
SMT Could you share a few words on being elected and what kind of president you would like to become in the near future?
HWANG Firstly, I am so glad to become the president of a prestigious University that has such a history and tradition. In the same time, I have tremendous responsibilities and am charged with a mission of great importance, to lead Sookmyung. Because my youth blossomed here and SMU presented me honor to be a professor, I believe that now I should dedicate myself in return. I will perform my duty respecting all dreams and desires of SMU members. In the near future, I would like to become a president who is communicating, helping and who’s always on the spot. The President should stay not at the very top, but at the low position and hear, see and learn there. I am planning to meet SMU’s students, professors, and staff at any available time to ask and learn from them. Also, I will help them with deep love and concern, readily taking care of them, for their talents to blossom. Every single member of Sookmyung has outstanding abilities. SMU’s students are in the top 1-2% of women in the world. I will do my best to help them develop their abilities to grow into talented individuals. Professors possess great knowledge in them and I’ll help it to come out to the society, also, will help staff members’ outstanding abilities to be used to the full. Furthermore, I want to be a president who’s always on the spot. I will meet the members of SMU on the field, faculty members and professors in their offices or laboratories and students in classrooms or the library. I want to become the president of a university that everyone wants to come to, and where everyone can be happy. And I am fully ready to devote myself to achieve this dream.
SMT To what extent, do you think, is SMU’s currently competitive?
Hwang By looking at the diverse indicators of measuring Universities’ competitiveness, SMU’s competitiveness is clearly on the rise. However, those indicators are still limited and the qualitative evaluation is not done perfectly, so SMU’s potentials are not reflected well. Sookmyung is well known for introducing its mentoring program for the first ever in Korea. Other than this, Sookmyung also conducts diverse programs such as Global visit, Leadership activities, and voluntary service overseas for students to learn through experience, not only in the classroom. These are not reflected in the indicators but form SMU’s competitiveness since the programs will lead Sookmyungians to become creative individuals for the 21st century. In addition, Sookmyung professors’ capacity for study is high class. For example, SMU Women’s Health Laboratory is famous for its studies. Sookmyung Business Incubator Center is also our important asset. Furthermore, Sookmyung Women’s University is located near Seoul Station, and in the middle of Seoul. Due to this advantage, almost every National academy is opened here. Our campus’ small scale is also an advantage since we are apt to take quick actions in this suddenly changing education marketplace. Sookmyung might seem small physically, but it is strong and competitive
SMT In following years of being the president, what visions and goals are you planning to drive Sookmyung?
HWANG Above all, Sookmyung needs scientific research for its identity establishment. Right now is the moment that SMU should develop its boundless asset, the historicity of “Korea’s initial women’s Education institution.” Our University was built in 1906, which belongs to modern and contemporary history. Yet, studies indicating how Sookmyung developed after 1906 till today or how the imperial spirit passed on are lacking. Although there is the Sookmyung History Museum on the campus, this is only a particle of our history and scientific research must take place to find SMU’s identity and roots. As an effort to solidify our identity, I am planning to conduct following programs. I always felt a deficiency of programs to raise Sookmyungians’ love and pride toward SMU. Therefore, to inspire students’ recognition of Sookmyung’s history and roots, so that they can become people who can contribute to the world, I will run the Sookmyung Pride Program. Moreover, for every freshman to live in dormitory for one year so that they can accumulate SMU spirit, I am planning to newly build a high-class Sookmyung Residence. Also, I will do my best to vitalize exchanges with prestigious colleges worldwide apt for Sookmyung’s dignity, to make Sookmyung the Global Best. Lastly, I’ll check all infrastructures throughout the campus needed to foster Sookmyungian’s talents. Classrooms, laboratories, offices, conference rooms, and convenient facilities would be inspected to check how well the physical environment is arranged.
SMT You are the 5th alumnae to become the President of Sookmyung Women’s University. Are there any words you would like say for students as a senior of Sookmyung?
HWANG I want to tell Sookmyungians that they should bear pride about Sookmyung. The long history of SMU over 100 years formed faith and love between alumnae. I experienced this pride and their love when I was in America for studying. When I was in the US, I received considerable scholarship from the Sookmyung Alumnae Scholarship Committee. This was not just some money, but showed their love and faith in me. Their encouragement was how I was able to endure life overseas. I can still remember that touch vividly, and Sookmyung formed an image of purity and brightness in my heart. From then, I determined that for this Sookmyung, I would gladly dedicate all I have and be a fertilizer for it. My pride towards SMU formed what I am today and I am ever so happy to be president here. Moreover, I would like to encourage students to become Dreaming Sookmyungians. Through challenges, they will succeed but sometimes fail. However, do not be afraid and test your potential. In 1981, I left my job and headed for America. At that time, democracy was not yet vitalized, and Korean international students, let alone women, were scarce in number in the US. I remember there were only about 15 Korean women in the whole university when I was in the doctoral course. People tried to keep me away from studying overseas, but I faced the challenge. I didn’t know whether I would succeed or fail, yet I knew one thing that I’ll at least learn something from the experience. Sookmyungians have reliable pillars, their Alma Mater and Alumnae, so take on challenges to your heart’s content. Be the Dreaming Sookmyungians!