The first cohort of students from the University of Utah Asia Campus (UAC) will graduate in 2017. Seven undergraduate and seven graduate students are eligible to participate in commencement on May 4 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, although some have already finished their course requirements and some will continue to take classes through the summer. Three graduate students at UAC in Incheon, South Korea will also receive their degrees this year (a ceremony will take place in February 2018).
“UAC students get the best of both worlds,” said Kari Ellingson, associate vice president of student development and former associate vice president for Student Affairs at UAC. “These students were able to begin their education in a small school environment on a new campus in South Korea where they got to help create the structure and future of the institution. Then, they had the opportunity to experience our very large and well established campus in Salt Lake with seemingly endless opportunities. This has allowed them the unique experience of existing in and balancing two cultures simultaneously.”
In 2014, the UAC opened its doors in South Korea to students looking for a global and culturally diverse education. As one of the founding institutions of Incheon Global Campus, the complex also includes Belgium’s Ghent University, George Mason University and the State University of New York, Stony Brook.
“The special thing that I experienced was that I could get education combined with both the Korean system and American system,” said Lihae Park, bachelor of social work. “I could experience both countries’ cultures and education.
The UAC currently has close to 250 students enrolled in three undergraduate programs, communication, psychology, social work and one graduate program in public health. Beginning in fall 2017, undergraduate degrees will also be offered in film and media arts and urban ecology and a graduate degree in biomedical informatics. In spring 2018, a Juris Doctorate will also be offered.
All undergraduate students spend two semesters during their junior or senior years at the main campus in Salt Lake City while these requirements for the graduate students vary by program.
Students like Kangho Lee, who will receive his undergraduate degree in communication next month, was excited to spend his final year in Salt Lake City to experience a new country and campus.
“I like the peace of the rural life in Salt Lake City,” said Lee. “It is quiet and peaceful compared to the massive and busy metropolitan city of Seoul. I also think the professors here are amazing because of how they guide and inspire me to achieve my future dreams.”
All students attending the UAC meet the same admissions and program degree requirements as main campus students, are taught and mentored by qualified U faculty and receive a University of Utah degree.
“The fact that these students chose to study at a U.S. institution located in Korea on a new campus marks them as innovators. They have jumped into the experience both in Korea and now in the U.S. with remarkable ease and have done so very successfully.
For the first group of undergraduates who transitioned here in the fall, their GPA average for that first semester was 3.9. Of course, for some, there is the inevitable homesickness, but they have found ways to make this experience their own” added Ellingson.
In September 2016, the Asia campus celebrated the opening of their new building, a nine-story, 170,000 square-foot state-of-the-art LEED-certified facility is modeled after the J. Willard Marriott Library. The building includes a welcome center, student lounge, 26 lecture halls and classrooms, counseling center and more than 100 faculty and student support offices.
The U is currently accepting applications for the fall semester, and admission will be granted on a rolling basis. Main campus undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to take advantage of a global learning abroad experience at the UAC.