U delegation to visit Asia

by Brian Bakst

University President Nils Hasselmo, Board of Regents Chairman Tom Reagan and six other University representatives will embark Tuesday on a two-week, three-country tour of Asia.
The entourage will meet with business leaders, heads of state and University alumni in China, South Korea and Taiwan. Hasselmo’s Chief of Staff, Mario Bognanno, said one purpose of the trip is to visit with prospective contributors to the University in the Pacific Basin region.
“There are a lot of people around the world who want to endow in instruction and research,” Bognanno said.
Bognanno said the trip may encourage businesses to invest in the University or the state. “We hope to touch base with some foundation people and industry people in these countries,” he said.
This is the second foreign relations trip Hasselmo has made to the region in the past two years. Last fall, Hasselmo headed a 14-member delegation that traveled to the same three countries and Japan. The delegation met with hundreds of the estimated 15,000 University alumni who live in east Asia.
Bognanno said this year’s group will also continue negotiating student exchange programs between the University and prominent colleges in those countries, such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Seoul National University.
With more than 1,300 Chinese students, the University has the largest Chinese student enrollment of U.S. universities, according to China Center Executive Assistant Joanne Laird.
Highlighting this year’s trip, the University delegation will present an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree to South Korean president Kim Young-sam.
The University has awarded the honorary degree 111 times in the past 146 years. “These awards are not handed out lightly,” Bognanno said.
The decision to bestow the degree upon Young-sam was based on recommendations of U.S. Ambassador to South Korea James Laney and Ambassador to Japan Walter Mondale. The endorsements praise Young-sam for his commitment to democratic values, Bognanno said.
Young-sam was elected president in 1992, and has been a member or organizer of several democratic organizations and political parties in South Korea since the early 1970s. Young-sam has also taken an unusually conciliatory stance with communist North Korea. This fall Young-sam extended an offer to North Korea to officially end the Korean War — a conflict between the two nations which has been under a cease-fire agreement since 1953, but was never officially ended.
Bognanno added that Coretta Scott King, widow of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., also wrote a letter on Young-sam’s behalf.