Asian trip includes agreements, honorary doctorate

A Western Carolina University delegation’s recent trip to Asia included the signing of exchange agreements with two universities in China and the presentation of an honorary doctorate to WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher by a South Korean university.

WCU representatives on the trip, in addition to Belcher, were his wife, Susan Belcher; James Zhang, dean of the Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology; Mimi Fenton, interim dean of Graduate School and Research; and Lois Petrovich-Mwaniki, director of International Programs and Services.

The group’s first stop was at Hannam University in Daejeon, South Korea, where Belcher was awarded an honorary doctorate in administrative studies. The WCU chancellor was congratulated for his contributions to higher education and support of Hannam in its efforts to facilitate exchanges with American sister schools.

The degree was conferred by Hannam’s president, Hyung-tae Kim, and Graduate School dean, Kwang-Sup Lee. John E. Endicott, president of Woosong University in South Korea, provided congratulatory remarks during the ceremony. Endicott was formerly director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies in the United States, where he served both the secretary of defense and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and he was nominated for a Nobel Prize in 2005.

The audience at the honorary degree presentation included two Hannam faculty members who have taught at WCU, Choi Jang Woo and Jehyun Lee; Sunjun Zhang, the wife of WCU dean James Zhang; and WCU faculty member Yong Han Ahn.

Upon his return to the states, Belcher said he accepted the honorary doctorate on behalf of the entire WCU community. “It’s quite an honor, but it’s not about me and my relationship with Hannam University. It’s more about Western Carolina and its relationship with that institution,” he said. WCU currently has an agreement with Hannam for the exchange of students and faculty that runs through 2015.

Belcher said hosts at all three universities visited by the WCU group “were just incredibly hospitable and generous.” After leaving South Korea, the WCU representatives traveled to two universities in China – Guangxi Normal University in Guilin and Chongqing Technology and Business University in Chongqing. New five-year agreements were signed to allow the exchange of students and faculty, and for research collaborations, between the Chinese institutions and WCU.

Western Carolina’s relationship with the Chinese universities is the result of a WCU delegation visit to that country that was led in 2008 by then-provost Kyle Carter. After that visit, memorandums of understanding were signed to provide for exchanges of students and faculty from 2009 through 2012. The new agreements will continue exchanges through 2017.

For more information about the exchange agreements and WCU’s relationships with the three Asian universities, contact Lois Petrovich-Mwaniki at 828-227-3433 or

WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher (center) receives his honorary doctorate hood from Hannam University President Hyung-tae Kim (right) and Graduate School Dean Kwang-Sup Lee.

WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher (center) receives his honorary doctorate hood from Hannam University President Hyung-tae Kim (right) and Graduate School Dean Kwang-Sup Lee.