Since he joined the faculty of the Georgia Institute of Technology, John E. Endicott has had a sixth sense for innovation in his career and in his life, which took him from Atlanta to become president of a Korean university where on March 2 the university named a new building and a new school of social sciences after him.
Not surprisingly, Woosong University’s SolBridge International School of Business, where he serves as vice-chancellor, located in Daejeon, South Korea provides an interdisciplinary program of international studies “with business and innovations in mind.”
The new building, the John E. Endicott Center and the new school, the Endicott College of International Studies, which will be housed in the center, is to add social science courses to the offerings of Woosong University.
Dr. Endicott told Global Atlanta in an email that he anticipates the new college will “prosper as the 4th Industrial Revolution will require that we train our grads in the broadest way possible so alternative futures are possible in an uncertain world.”
Daejeon, the fifth largest city in South Korea is the self-proclaimed Silicon Valley of Asia with 18 universities, 28 government funded and 79 private research institutions, 20,000 researchers and more than 900 tech firms.
To put it simply, the college’s brochure calls Daejeon “the largest science center in South Korea.”
Dr. Endicott landed in the center of this super-charged vortex 10 years ago when he was hired away from Georgia Tech where he had spent 18 years launching and heading up its Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy that had as its main focus the integration of policy with technology.
At Tech he introduced the concept for a Limited Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone in Northeast Asia Program for which he along with the program itself were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in both 2005 and 2009.
His biography is chock full of honors including the Mike Mansfield Award from the Japan-America Society of Georgia and a General Raymond G. Davis Leadership award for lifetime service toward peace and stability in North East Asia. He also served as president of the Korea-Southeast U.S. Chamber of Commerce 2004-06.
A close reading of the compact print in his bio reveals a commitment to students as well as large strategic pursuits. He has received a “professor of the year” award and served as a “senior mentor” in a program linking Korean executives and students.
And watch for a few surprises such as, for instance, his responsibility as honorary consul for Mongolia to the state of Georgia or his appointment as “special ambassador” to the professional Korean baseball team the Hanwha Eagles.
Following a 31 year career in he U.S. government — 28 in the Air Force and three in the Department of Defense, where he earned a number of military decorations — he joined the international affairs section of Georgia Tech’s social science department and was present at the founding of the university’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs.
His move to Daejeon represented a leap of faith to help launch the SolBridge International School of Business, an unaccredited English-only institution that aimed at attracting students not just from Korea but from throughout Asia with a faculty from around the world.
He also was to serve as president of SolBridge’s parent, Woosong University, a medium-sized specialized university with 12,500 students in six different colleges with different focuses including railroad transportation, hotel management, culinary arts, digital media, health and welfare and another business school where courses are in Korean.
The SolBridge business school opened in a brand new building, but the task of attracting the diverse faculty and students had just begun as well as developing the core curriculums.
Today SolBridge offers business bachelor’s of art and master’s of business administration degrees to more than 1,100 students from 40-plus countries, 36 percent of whom are Korean, 23 percent Chinese and 27 percent Russian speaking from Russia and Central Asia. The faculty comes from 16 countries.
In the midst of the administrative heavy lifting, Dr. Endicott showed his innovative instincts once again by making the wise choice of establishing a “21st century restaurant” on the entry level floor of the school providing a mix of traditional and novelty meals developed by students from the Woosong culinary college. The venue was ideal for wooing possible academics to leave their tenured posts for a period of time and try teaching to an unusually diverse population.
He also encouraged the development of an athletic center and sauna facilities drawing locals to use the facilities to raise the school’s profile in the business community and to develop an additional profit center.
But his master stroke was to recognize the importance of developing a debating society at the college for which the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business recognized his sixth sense by accrediting the school once it had conducted a thorough review of its courses and academic achievements and giving him its “Innovation Award.”
Dr. Endicott backed the debating concept after meeting Joshua Park, a Harvard Law School graduate who used to teach a select group of Korean high school students how to conduct debates in English. The program began as a means of developing soft-skills among its diverse students body including cross-cultural integration and leadership.
Soon, however, the SolBridge team began winning hotly contested debate championships. Once recognized for its abilities, the program began to influence schools in surrounding areas and became popular in high schools both as a means of learning but also to deal with social problems. SolBridge team members also gained experience of community service by acting as mentors.
Despite his profound impact in Daejeon, Dr. Endicott hasn’t forgotten his Georgia Tech experience and signed a memorandum of understanding with Tech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts’ Dean Jacqueline Royster, who attended a ceremony honoring the creation of the Endicott College of International Studies to explore cooperative initiatives and is to serve on the Endicott College’s board of advisers.
Dr. Endicott and his wife Mitsuyo have two children and four grandchildren who live in Atlanta.
To reach Dr. Endicott, send an email to email@example.com.