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Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association to Celebrate UW-Madison Anniversary at events in Asia 

WFAA to host celebrations in South Korea, Thailand

As a capstone to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s 175th anniversary year, alumni and leaders of the UW will celebrate a century of global connections in South Korea and Thailand.  

The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA) will host receptions for invited guests in Seoul on June 20 and Bangkok on June 22, with university leaders and prominent alumni highlighting many important milestones and achievements from 175 years of rich history. The global celebration is an overseas continuation of statewide celebrations that began in May 2023, commemorating the UW’s creation as Wisconsin’s flagship university. During these stops, the UW has marked significant connections with alumni, businesses and other research institutions, highlighting how collaboration has been a foundational value of the UW since its inception.  

“Our ongoing engagement with alumni, faculty, institutions and prospective students from around the world helps to make UW a world-class institution,” said Jennifer L. Mnookin, chancellor of UW-Madison. “We are so pleased to celebrate this milestone with our alumni and friends around the world and look forward to future partnership and collaboration, as we have shown it can be so fruitful.” 

Both South Korea and Thailand have significant UW alumni populations and both mark 100 years of connection with the UW in 2024: in 1924, the first Korean student enrolled at the UW and the first Thai student graduated, moments that will be commemorated at the upcoming celebrations. The UW consistently ranks among the top 20 U.S. universities with the highest number of international students. 

“We are so proud that the alumni in these countries remain some of our most engaged and proud of the time they spent at UW-Madison,” said Sarah Schutt, executive director of the Wisconsin Alumni Association. “We look forward to celebrating the connections and international legacy they’ve helped create for our beloved institution.” 

Chancellor Mnookin will join both celebrations and offer her vision for the future of the university. During this privately funded trip, she will also join other university officials and WFAA staff in meeting with significant alumni and donors. More than 5,000 alumni reside in Korea, where they excel in business, academia, government and communications. More than 1,000 UW alumni reside in Thailand. In 2001, the Thailand alumni chapter generously donated a Royal Thai Pavilion to the UW, the only Thai sala in the continental United States.  

Alumni who will participate in the 175th anniversary celebration events include Kang Seog-hoon MS’91, PhD’91, chairman of Korea Development Bank and president of the Wisconsin Alumni Association: Korea Chapter; Dong-One Kim MS’91, PhD’93, president of Korea University; Jomphong Mongkhonvanit ’99, associate professor, vice president and dean of the Graduate School of Business at Siam University and Varawut Silpa-archa MBA’97, Thai minister of social development and human security. 

In addition to these international stops, WFAA is continuing the 175th anniversary statewide tour through early fall, with remaining stops scheduled in Rock County, Chippewa Falls/Eau Claire, Waukesha and La Crosse. The tour has already visited Appleton, Wausau, Milwaukee, Sheboygan and Green Bay. 

Additional notable connections between UW-Madison, South Korea and Thailand include: 

  • UW-Madison was instrumental in training many of the professionals and scholars who spearheaded Korea’s remarkable industrial growth. 
  • Nearly 600 Korean students and approximately 65 Thai students enroll annually at UW-Madison. 
  • New cohorts of Thai and South Korean undergraduates will come to UW-Madison in fall 2024, continuing a proud tradition of enrollment from these countries. 
  • South Korean students are the third-largest international student population, and in fall 2024, the largest cohort from South Korea to date will begin their studies in Madison. 
  • UW-Madison alumni are prominent faculty members at leading Korean universities, including Seoul National University, Korea University, Yonsei University, Ewha Womans University and Pohang University of Science and Technology. 
  • UW-Madison alumni are prominent faculty members at leading Thai universities including Mahidol, Chula, Thammasat, Chiang Mai and Siam. 
  • Some 250 UW faculty members have coauthored research with colleagues from Korean and Thai universities. 
  • UW-Madison has more than two dozen active agreements with Korean and Thai institutions to foster exchanges in degree programs. 

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