By James Irwin
Dae-Whan Chang, chair and publisher of the South Korean-based Maekyung Media Group, was honored Wednesday with the university’s Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, the highest annual recognition given by the George Washington Alumni Association to a GW graduate.
An alumnus of the Elliott School of International Affairs, Dr. Chang, M.A. ’76, is one of South Korea’s most respected thought leaders. He is the founder of the World Knowledge Forum—the largest annual business forum in Asia—and has served as chair and publisher of Maekyung since 1988.
He was recognized at a special ceremony that featured remarks from Elliott School Dean Michael Brown and GWAA President-elect Jeremy Gosbee, B.A. ’98, M.A. ’02. The full class of 2015 award recipients will be honored at a Sept. 24 dinner during the university’s annual Alumni Weekend celebration.
“This is one of our most long-standing programs at the university—older than our alumni association itself, in fact,” Mr. Gosbee said. “We’re thrilled to be honoring a representative of the Elliott School who has a career of distinction that is extremely worthy of recognition.”
Dr. Chang served as chair of the Korean Association of Newspapers from 2005-2010 and currently is a commissioner of the Global Commission on International Governance. His efforts to grow the World Knowledge Forum—which he describes as a small-scale version of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Switzerland—showcase his interests in media, global economics and international relations. In remarks Wednesday, he touched on a host of topics, including the ongoing developments of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a Beijing-led effort of more than 30 countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy, that he said will help meet Asia’s enormous infrastructure needs.
The bank, he said, represents an important economic union in Asia and will help expedite highway, railroad and airport projects.
“Many things are happening in Asia,” Dr. Chang said. “Economic action is happening. I think Asia will provide lots of new opportunities, a new paradigm.”
He said he hopes more American students visit the continent. Dr. Chang has worked to raise GW’s profile in South Korea, Dr. Brown said. He was a keynote speaker at the GW Global Forum in Seoul in 2012, an event that featured remarks from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, M.B.A. ’71, and then-Wired Magazine Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson.
“Dr. Chang has had a truly extraordinary career and record of professional accomplishment in public service,” Dr. Brown said. “[He] is, without a doubt, one of GW’s most distinguished and accomplished graduates in the private sector, the nonprofit world and in public service.”
Past recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award—one of several annual honors given out by the GW Alumni Association—include 16-time NBA champion Arnold “Red” Auerbach, B.S. ’40, M.A. ’41; Nobel Prize winner Julius Axelrod, Ph.D. ’55; and Syngman Rhee, the first president of South Korea, who graduated from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences in 1907.