by John Ashton
In June of 1989, Chinese tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square. At the very same time, President Chase Peterson, his wife, Grethe, and several other officers from the University strolled through Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong meeting with U alumni and friends. The group witnessed a massive protest by Hong Kong students only two weeks before other students lost their lives at the hands of Chinese soldiers. Events at the Square changed world history overnight.
The Peterson trip was an important milestone for the U's outreach to its international friends. Chase and Grethe were responding to invitations from alumni in the Far East. Pleased and perhaps a little surprised at the deep affection they found for the University of Utah among former students, they noted that many who had been removed from the University for decades still had fond memories of professors, classes, and familiar places in Salt Lake City. Soon after the group returned to the campus, the International Center Community Advisory Committee was established, with Grethe as the first chair. Educational and social activities were planned for foreign students and their families. Networks with present and former international students were cultivated.
The Peterson trip was followed in 1993 by a similar trip by President Arthur Smith and his wife, June. This outreach to former students of the U included Taiwan as well as the other places visited in 1989. President Smith met with more than 100 members of the Seoul chapter of the Alumni Association and, like President Peterson, was very impressed with the continuing loyalty of the attendees to their experiences at the U. One chapter officer, C. K. Park, has sent three of his children to the University of Utah and has made significant contributions to several parts of the campus. The president of the Korean group for 10 years now, Yong-The Lee PhD'70, received an honorary degree from the U at the June commencement.
Under the direction of Bill Barnhart MS'71, the International Center has made significant strides in providing U students with international educational experiences and networking possibilities with alumni and friends abroad. In 1995 Isabel Sharp was hired by Bill to initiate the International Resource Network to connect with University supporters outside of the U.S. Currently there are more than 800 members of the Network in more than 100 countries. Most of them are connected to Isabel through the Internet. Last June the Network sponsored a highly successful reunion in Heidelberg for European friends of the U. More than 40 people attended, including Bill, Isabel, and Humanities Dean Patricia Hanna. One of those who organized the reunion, German physician Peter Huber MS'96, recounted the wonderful time he had at the U while earning a master's degree in medical informatics, an experience that caused him to become a dedicated alumnus. Lee Boam BA'71 MBA'81, consul general at the United States Consulate in Düsseldorf, was among the guests who helped launch the Utah European Association. Next year's gathering will take place in June 1999 in Brussels.
In this issue of Continuum, readers can explore the progress of our international connections. They are too numerous to cover in full, but you will learn about the U's global business education, international efforts to preserve species and ecosystems, and the College of Humanities' Asian Studies initiative. Alumni profiles will help you become acquainted with some of our international alumni who have returned home after their experiences at the U, and Fred Kempe BA'76, an expatriate Ute, sends accolades to the professors who helped prepare him for a career at the Wall Street Journal Europe.
"Think global" is a bit trite but a lot true at the U. Our international students, alumni, and friends add a very important component to who we are and the language we speak. The vast majority of them take great pride in being a "Utah Man" or woman and have great affection for the school on the hill they left behind. Join us in celebrating international and Internet connections around our shrinking globe.
—John Ashton is executive director of the University of Utah Alumni Association