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 "Without Dongguk University alumni attending the 100th anniversary, it will be like a wedding ceremony without family members," DU President Hong Ki-sam said. He certainly showed his passion for alumni solidarity.
  The clock was striking 12 o'clock noon when Mr. Hong came out from a conference room and spared The Dongguk Post reporters some time to have a short talk. He seemed a bit tired from so many meetings, from local trips to Suwon, Incheon, Daejun, Daegu, and Chungju, and from a trip to L.A. All of this for the past five months to visit local associations of DU alumni.
  "Since we don't have a way to attract all our alumni in one place, I decided to meet them personally. I met the Suwon City Alumni Association for the first time in April and have continued to meet other city associations till now." the President said in a modest way. In these conferences, he explains the economic and educational crisis of DU, has discussions to overcome the situation and picked alumni members to prepare for the 100th anniversary.
  Mr. Hong said, "At the meeting, many alumni were concerned about DU's crisis, some even shed tears of deep sorrow. I explained the new project for improving education, which will help Donggukians spend more time on studying and which is the best way for DU to prosper," He will meet DU alumni associations from big province associations like Busan and from small cities associations like Wonju during his tenure.
  "Why do we need sincere alumni solidarity so?" The Post analyzed the need for alumni.......................................Ed.

 Generally, Korean alumni association's major roles are to gather graduates and to share their friendship. Although some associations are beginning to contribute to the advance their alma mater, their traditional purpose has not changed.
  In case of universities in the U.S. or the U.K., the rate of donation is 35% of the entire finance. That is considerably higher that Korea's domestic rate of 9 percent. And their alumni activities are focused on substantial aid to their alma mater as well, rather than just forming friendships.
  The office of the Dongguk Alumni Association (DAA) is located in the Baeksang Bldg. in Insa-dong, Seoul. The organization is separated into domestic and overseas unions. The domestic union consists of 10 graduate school branches, and 14 local branches including Seoul, Busan, Gyeongju, and the overseas union is formed by 5 branches -- 9 North America branches, 7 European branches, and one China branches. The actual membership of the DAA is approximately 170 thousand. At present, the DAA is supporting student activities such as Baeksang Cheering Party, medical service of medical students, and assisting professors' research.
  The DAA's general secretary Song Jae-man, however, expressed some regrets about the passive role of alumni in supporting DU. Let's take Korea University (KU) as an example, which will be celebrating its 100th birthday in 2005. They have a credit card service that has joined hands with BC, Kookmin and Korea Exchange Bank credit card company. And the card is called KU credit card. According to the amount used on the card, accumulated bonuses are donated to KU's development funding. The DAA also has similar programs with BC and City Bank credit card and this system is the same as KU's. The only difference is KU credit cards are commonly used among their alumni. According to secretary Song, the DAA hardly makes an effort to announce such business to alumni.
  Despite of the size of alumni membership, their unity is weaker than other 100-year-old universities. Our alumni are now divided into two factions -- the Insa-dong DAA and the Dongguk University Cyber Alumni Association (DUCAA). In October 2001, there was disagreement over the reelection of Guon No-gab, the DAA's formal president. Some influential members withdrew from the DAA and formed a cyber community. Community members are making good public opinion among netizens by writing articles about DU on the knowledge search webpage, and mentioning DU's name in the newspapers. But DU's alumni are separated to groups. Consequently, this weakens DU's potential.

Chungang University
- 88 years old
- Alumni Assembly Hall:
In Sadang
- The Annual Alumni Association's Scholarship Fund:
 52,000,000 won
Dongguk University
- 100th Anniversary in 2006
- Alumni Assembly Hall:
None
- The Annual Alumni Association's Scholarship Fund:
 40,000,000 won
Korea University
- 100th Anniversary in 2005
- Alumni Assembly Hall:
In KU Campus, Jongno
- The Annual Alumni Association's Scholarship Fund:
 360,000,000 won
Sogang University
- 44-year-long History
- Alumni Assembly Hall:
In Shinchon
- The Alumni Association's Scholarship Fund:
 150,000,000 won
* In Alphabetical order.

<Comparing With Other Universities>
  As shown above, DU is getting support from its alumni. But when we compare the amount with other universities, it is considerably lower. The KU Alumni Association supports 240 students on full scholarship annually, The Donggukian alumni support only 40 students with 100 million won annually. The amount of scholarship donations KU gets from its alumni is twelve times more than DU's.
  When we take a look at the school donation funding, the percentage of alumni contributions is quite lower too. The interview with the general secretary of the DAA, made it obvious that their efforts were definitely comparable to other universities. But it can not be simply said that DU alumni are indifferent compare to KU or others.
  KU alumni, who are well-known to be big supporters of their alma mater, get benefits from their school that are quite comparable to DU. KU has the Alumni Assembly Building inside the Seoul campus and outside in Jongno which provide various conveniences for the alumni such as a funeral hall, wedding hall with make-up room and photo room inside, seminar room, banquet hall and more. In the building, there are conveniences stores and banks. The money from the rent goes directly to support KU. Since alumni buildings give a lot of benefits to alumni, other universities have or are planning to construct alumni buildings like KU.
  When the school has an alumni building, it is much easier for graduates to have access to the school which will foster alumni interest. It is similar to the theory of "Give and take." America's private universities' support from their alumni was 4 times more than Korean schools, and they had a unique way to give something back to alumni such as life-long education provided through on-line lectures, E-mail accounts, and website hosting. In accordance with Noblesse Oblige, a scholarly paper in 2002, alumni of U.S. and U.K. universities recognize school donations as an investment in their alma mater's prosperity.
  There are over 200 universities in Korea, but there are only 7 schools which have or will soon have a history of 100 years. Of the seven schools, only DU and Soongsil Univerity are not making any effort to construct an Alumni Assembly Hall. DU doesn't have an alumni building nor on-line lectures for the seniors, but they send The Dongguk Times, a tabloid published monthly, and brochures annually, and provide a wedding hall to the alumni. The tabloid has a circulation of one million copies and it is only sent to alumni who donated money and besides, the wedding hall is the school's cafeteria.

<Interviewee Box>
  The Post reporters interviewed DU alumnus Lee Ji-won, who graduated in 1998. "After graduation, I haven't heard any news from school and didn't get any benefits for the past 6 years. And this is why I have no interest in my alma mater."
  Ms. Lee mentioned the need of a donation system like American universities. But in order to have such a system in DU, the university should first consider how they are going to encourage alumni to donate.
  "There is a modern Korean proverb: 'It is possible to change your nationality but not your graduation certificate.' This tells us that where you studied is more important than where you were born. I think DU should consider its alumni and its future alumni as a big asset, and it should put its effort into keep them interested permanently."
  Lee also complaint about the unclear policy of the DAA membership funding, "In the second semester of my senior year at DU, the membership fee of the DAA was taken out from my account without my permission. And I was never told what they used it for. I really wonder what they did with it!"

<Donggukians' Poll>
1. Are you satisfied with DU?
a. Very much 31.16%
b. It's okay 54.77%
c. Not at all 3.02%
d. Never thought of it 11.06%

2. What can you do for DU's prosperity after graduation?
a. Be in a good social position (Get employed well)
37.90%
b. Give donation to school 4.40%
c. Be a member of the DAA 5.62%
d. Etc. 57.70%
  The Post surveyed 200 Donggukians with the above questions. Many students were happy with DU. After their graduation many answered being in a good social position will advance DU. Yes, it is true and important for them to be successful, but it will it lead to more donations.

<Conclusion>
  Although the School Authority (SA) and the alumni association need to act mutually to increase school aid, they are absolutely separated and act individually. Over the past years, the SA had hardly made any effort to gather its alumni, but now they are making some plans such as classifying specific alumni unions by their social position; Athletes, Celebrities, Politicians, Economists etc. There are also plans to construct a centennial Memorial Building which can be a convention center for Donggukians and alumni.
  This project can promote DU's alumni union but graduates must ve kept informed as well. The current PR system about school business and news is extremely limited. As mentioned above, the school tabloid printing is small and is only sent to one tenth of the alumni. First and foremost, DU needs to organize its PR more effectively.
  According to the poll, Donggukians pointed out that being in a good social position can promote DU's prosperity, and this supports President Hong Ki-sam's essential thoughts on education as a way to strengthen one's ability. This means that students have to spend more time on studying in order to be successful, and this will also encourage alumni to have more interest in their alma mater.
  A marathon runner cannot run with only one leg. DU needs the SA, students, and alumni to win the academic marathon.

Yoon Ji-won, Kim Sung-ho  jiwon@dongguk.edu

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