New release from Georgia Southwestern
AMERICUS, GA - Georgia Southwestern President Kendall Blanchard, Ph.D. and his wife Connie Blanchard, Ph.D., recently returned from a trip to Korea with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and RCI Executive Director Rick Birkel, Ph.D.
The main purpose of the trip was to establish a Rosalynn Carter Institute in Korea. On Monday, March 22, at The Cyber University of Korea in Seoul, Mrs. Carter and President Blanchard signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) officially creating a Rosalynn Carter Institute in Korea.
"The Rosalynn Carter Institute in America and the Rosalynn Carter Institute in Korea have both a real and symbolic significance, one that extends well beyond the boundaries of the programs themselves," says President Blanchard.
"They are about an important partnership between two universities and the bridge between the North America and Asia that this partnership represents. They are about Mrs. Rosalynn Carter, her international reputation as America's most beloved first lady, her commitment to public service, and the important impact she has had on so many areas of public policy, in particular, mental health and caregiving. They are also about a lasting legacy, a legacy that will ensure for centuries to come that the name Rosalynn Carter will remain synonymous with the effort to train and support caregivers."
The day following the signing of the MOU, President and GSW alumnus Jimmy Carter was awarded an honorary doctorate by Korea University, the largest private university in Korea with over 40,000 students. Later that day, Carter delivered the Incheon Lecture at Korea University, the most prestigious lecture in Korea.
The purpose of the partnership between GSW and CUK is to develop a college-level, credit-bearing curriculum that will be delivered on-line both in English and Korean. Birkel and his Korean counterpart, Seo Won Lee, met on March 23 to continue discussions that have taken place over the last year concerning the development of this caregiving curriculum that will eventually include six, three-credit hour courses.
The courses will be relevant to the fundamental themes of Korean culture and the issues of everyday life in Korea. The curriculum will be the first one of its kind in Korea and especially unique because it will be delivered completely online.
The staffs at the RCI and RCI-Korea will work together as the new partnership is developed and moves forward. Over time, the RCI and Georgia Southwestern may develop graduate level courses and offer a masters degree in caregiving.
"The rapid growth of the senior population globally has created an urgent need to educate professional and family caregivers who form the backbone of long-term care," said Birkel. "Our ultimate goal is to educate leaders in the U.S. and in Korea who are equipped to build the systems of long-term care, family supports, and chronic illness management that are needed to assure quality care in both countries."
This new partnership presents a unique opportunity for the University to create revenue amidst a shortfall in state budget support. The Cyber University of Korea will charge a small franchise fee, five percent of the total cost, for each student that enrolls in an RCI-Korea course.
These funds will be transferred to the RCI. The first course went on-line last week with over 600 students registered.
The collaboration between CUK and GSW falls under the umbrella of a general exchange agreement entered into in April 2009 in Seoul, Korea. The president of CUK, Choong Soon Kim, Ph.D., is a long-time friend of Blanchard.
Kim is a graduate of the University of Georgia's Ph.D. program in anthropology. He taught in Tennessee for many years before returning to Korea in 2001 to take of the helm at CUK (formerly known as Korean Digital University), which now has an affiliation with Korea University.
Georgia Southwestern's signing with CUK, along with President Carter's honorary doctorate and lecture, received extensive media coverage in Korea. One of the many distinguished members of the RCI-Korea Advisory Board is Jaeho Kim, the president and publisher of the largest newspaper in Korea and the owner of the University of Korea and a large textile manufacturing firm. Another is D.K. Lee, an industrialist and past president of Rotary International.
President Kim, his staff and members of his advisory board are planning to visit Americus in October of this year for the annual RCI conference. Georgia Southwestern is working with the local Payroll Development Authority and other members of the community to take advantage of this visit in hopes that the Koreans will invest in Southwest Georgia.
"Thanks to President and Mrs. Carter, my friend President Kim and his staff at CUK, and Executive Director Birkel and his staff at Georgia Southwestern's Rosalynn Carter Institute, we now have a significant and permanent foothold in Korea," Blanchard said. "I am confident that this new partnership will over time yield significant benefits for both the University and the larger community that it serves."
The RCI was established in 1987 on the campus of Georgia Southwestern. It was formed in honor of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, an alumna of GSW, to enhance her long-standing commitments to human development and mental health.