In Austria, Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien(Vienna University of Economics and Business) is simply called WU. WU was founded in 1898, when the country was ruled by the Habsburg dynasty. After two world wars it regained its grandeur as a university in 1948, but it wasn’t until 1966 that it became competitive nationally. Meanwhile, the drastically increasing number of students resulted in it changing its location several times. Ultimately in August 2013, it opened a new campus in Prater, which used to be the Habsburg dynasty’s summer hunting spot. < Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >
Before the move in 2013, WU was located next to a garbage incineration plant designed by world-famous architect Hundertwasser---by the way, thanks to the superior technology, the degree of air pollution there was lower than that of a private home with a stove. There was no campus, or space for relaxing outdoors, which is taken for granted by college students in Korea. As a result, whenever the weather was beautiful, WU students who had nowhere to go, gathered on stairs in front of the school building, enjoyed the sun, and drank coffee or tea as most Europeans do. When I studied there, the school building was designed for 9.000 students, but the number of students reached 24,000 before its move last summer. WU rented additional buildings around the main building, to solve the space problem, but it was never enough.
What I leaned the most at WU is not only academic learning but also how to be a scholar, teacher, and leader. Right after I began my doctoral course, I luckily had an opportunity to work as an assistant professor in the department of Social Policy while continuing my study. I owe it to Professor Badelt, who was the department chair at that time. For your information, he has been working as the president of WU since 2002--- he is Austria’s longest serving university president.
I learned Social Policy from him for the first time, and was deeply moved by the field of study. Later, however, I had a big fight with him due to conflicts of opinion and didn’t get a good grade for my MA exam. Come to think of it, I have no idea where I got the courage to stand up to him.
Then I began my doctoral course in Social Policy, and I was a bit worried about the conflict with him. Hence, when four out of five members of our group at the Social Policy Seminar gave up our project, saying it was too difficult, I had to write the paper and do the presentation alone. I believe that gave him a good impression of me. When the department of Social Policy posted a job opening for assistant professor, I applied for the position confidently and got the job through the final interview. Professor Badelt phoned me in person, and I was really surprised at his fairness. He must have remembered me – the student who dared to challenge him at the MA exam.
While I was working at the department of Social Policy, we used to have a faraway workshop once a semester with consultants for one night and two days. Everybody in the department, including secretaries and assistants, participated in the workshop and discussed everything about the department. It was a wonder to see the youngest assistant directly criticizing Professor Badelt, the department chair, and his respect for every opinion from everybody was truly admirable. His demeanor deeply impressed me.
Professor Badelt was appointed as University President less than a year after I was hired by the department, and WU’s status has since been raised to a higher level. Currently WU is the largest business and economics university in Europe, and its degree programs have been placed consistently among the world’s best in prestigious international rankings. It’s most important quality reference is without a doubt the EQUIS accreditation, which it has held since 2007. This seal of quality is granted to only about 130 universities worldwide.
I still call on Professor Badelt whenever I visit Vienna during breaks, and I can see him treat everyone nicely and respectfully. Then I look at myself, to see whether I am fair and nice to my students, allowing them to approach me freely, just as Professor Badelt does.