Ja Song was among the first Korean students to come to Washington University in the early 1960s through a collaborative agreement to train business leaders and transform business education in South Korea. 

Mr. Song and dozens of other South Korean business students and professors came to study at Washington University as a result of the Korea Project, a six-year collaboration involving the Olin Business School, Yonsei University, and Korea University. Tapped by the U.S. government, Olin helped rehabilitate and modernize business education programs in South Korea in an effort to boost the country’s languishing economy in the aftermath of the Korean War.

Soon after Mr. Song’s death in 2019, his wife, Soonhi Song, along with her daughters, Grace Song Park and Jean Song, recognized the pivotal role Washington University played in his life by pledging $1 million to establish an endowed fellowship in his name through the Hongmosoomin Foundation.

The Song Ja Fellowship in the university’s McDonnell International Scholars Academy will enable alumni of Yonsei and other South Korean universities to pursue graduate studies at WashU while preparing for global leadership.

Mr. Song, who grew up in the impoverished Korean countryside, earned his MBA and doctorate in business administration at WashU.  He went on to earn tenure at the University of Connecticut, where he taught for nine years before returning to South Korea to continue his career in academia and public service. All the while, he remained engaged with the WashU community, serving on the university’s International Advisory Council for Asia, offering guidance and financial resources to help launch the McDonnell International Scholars Academy.

I had the privilege of working closely with Ja Song to bring Yonsei University, Korea University, and Seoul National University into partnership with Washington University through our McDonnell International Scholars Academy in 2005. The Ja Song Fellowship is a wonderful gift that will help preserve important partnerships in South Korea and create opportunities for talented international students who aspire to become global leaders following in the footsteps of Ja Song.

Mark S. Wrighton
Chancellor Emeritus

Ja Song Career Highlights

  • Faculty member, University of Connecticut
  • Professor, business school dean, and president, Yonsei University, Seoul
  • President, Myongji University, Seoul
  • Minister of education, South Korea
  • CEO, Daekyo Co. Ltd., a South Korea-based education service and publishing company
Ja Song, fifth from left, and his family in 2016 (Courtesy photo)

Today, his wife and daughters hope to keep his spirit of service alive through their philanthropy and leadership. Dr. Grace Park recently joined the advisory council for the McDonnell Academy.