Thursday, May 15, 2014

100 years

Daegu Catholic University has chosen today, May 15, as the official day to celebrate the university's centennial. The construction of our campus's Baek Ju-nyeon Ginyeom-gwan (centennial building) was completed barely on time for the celebration; finishing touches were rushed into place at the very last minute, just before the start of today's endless raft of commemorative events. Since my office is essentially right next to the centennial building, also known as Ignatius Cheon Hall, I've been a witness to its coming-together for months. My relationship with the hall has occasionally been rocky; you may recall that I once tripped over some string or wire that had been strung across a path on the construction site. Suffice it to say that I'm glad the centennial building has been completed: no more goddamn tripwires. One student told me the cost of the building project was about 3 billion won—close to 3 million dollars, a figure that strikes me as awfully cheap. Earlier, he had mistakenly said "30 billion won," but when he told me the amount in Korean, I realized he'd meant "3 billion." The mistaken figure of 30 billion won actually sounds more believable to me.

We foreign professors have been invited to some of today's events; other activities are of the walk-in variety, requiring no specific invitation. I'll be on campus today (we have no classes; this is a day off for us teachers), but only to do lesson plans and other job-related things. Assuming the campus branch of Daegu Bank is open, I'll make my monthly transfer to my US account, and that's about as involved with campus life as I plan on being.

It's something to ponder: the continued existence of an ever-growing institution over a span of a hundred years. How does a university like Catholic U. survive so long? I imagine part of the answer is government funding, but another part would have to be private funding from such revenue streams as student tuition, alumni contributions, and so on. A campus is a little world unto itself—a place of classrooms and shops and eateries, performance spaces, green spaces, pretentious Greek columns, sculpture gardens, and sometimes-clashing architecture. People swarm mindlessly, mill about confusedly, and make solitary treks purposefully, much like ants. A sort of collective momentum, driven in large part by ever-flowing streams of cash, propels the university community forward in time and space. Days become months; months become years, and before you know it, it's the centennial.

So a Happy Hundredth to my employer, Daegu Catholic University, and many happy returns.



brian dean said...

This university isn't 100 years old, it is 13-odd billion, like everything else.

Kevin Kim said...