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[Editorial] Biggest Victims Are Students

Posted February. 16, 2007 07:21,   


A new conflict has arisen after temporary directors dispatched to private universities decided to rein in their college boards even after demonstrations at universities ended. The special directors were transferred to universities where demonstrations were taking place, but there are not many universities that let their temporary directors finish their school crisis management programs and return to the regular director board system. The special directors are dominating school administration and are exerting every effort to remain in power, making excuses.

Since the launch of the Roh administration, pro-Uri officials have been occupying positions of presidents, chief directors, and temporary directors at universities. They even bring into university administration those involved in the democratization movement and NGOs, often entrusting them with the management of for-profit businesses. Non-experts in university management positioned as temporary directors at universities entered schools due to student demonstrations through revolving-door personnel appointments. Worse, they often take pains to retain their positions.

In May 2005 at Sejong University, President Kim Ho-jin embraced Hahm Se-ung, president of the Korea Democracy Foundation, as a temporary director. Temporary directors residing in the school’s Board of Directors introduced a single payroll system, eased requirements for professor promotions, and appointed professors who were excluded in the second vote of confidence. When a temporary director board system curries favor with special directors through pork barrel-like policies, a return to the regular director system is almost inconceivable.

Officials who were recommended by those, including President Hahm, took up posts at two for-profit businesses that are known as Sejong University’s financial backers: the Korea Tourist Supply Center Inc. and the Sejong Hotel. These two enterprises reported losses for the first time ever since they started business 34 years ago.

The temporary director system is not engaged in normalizing school administration, but spreading permanent jobs to special directors. All this causes newly emerged problems and conflicts.

Once special directors are dispatched, there are many cases in which conflicts are addressed and regular directors end up with nowhere to go. In the case of Kyungin Women’s College, which has a transitory director system, its founder was acquitted by the Supreme Court. Professors creating disorder were declared guilty. Nevertheless, founders could not return to work. On the other hand, professors who had suffered a guilty verdict have been working as part-time lecturers and members of the Professor’s Association. They even received a special pardon from the government last week and are rallying for their jobs back. Former President of Sejong University Joo Myung-gun was also cleared of charges from a variety of accusations, but he still cannot return to his school, which is still in possession of its special directors.

Under the revised Private School Law that requires a collegiate board of trustees, a switch to a regular director system is becoming more and more difficult. Founders cannot dare to restore their schools that have been taken away by special directors even though their suspicions of embezzlement have been resolved. The special director system does not translate into school development and resolute investments. The biggest victims are the students who cannot receive a quality education.