The one and only foreign professor and the first foreign dean in the Department of Public Administration at Incheon National University, the first American professor who acquired tenure. She is always referred to as ‘first’ and ‘one and only.’
The word ‘talented’ is not enough to describe her fully. ‘Pioneer’ or ‘Pathfinder’ would suit her much better.
A foreign professor in the Department of Public Administration? The idea did not exactly fit into our understanding when we were first asked to do the interview, and indeed, Professor Tao is the one and only foreign professor in the department of public administration in all of the universities in Korea. She is playing a pivotal role in the ‘Global College of Law, Commerce, and Public Affairs’ at which Incheon National University has ambitiously planned to foster local talent into global talent. She is a fabulous woman worthy of prefixes ‘first’ and ‘one and only’ and a truly capable person who acquired tenure that ordinary foreign professors never get the chance to.
# LIVING IN KOREA IS TOUGH
It was 2011 when Professor Tao came to Korea from America. She started living in Korea when she was appointed as the professor for the Department of Public Administration by Incheon National University and it has been eight years in no time. She started in a very small apartment in Dongchun-dong, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, where she lived for two years. She said her husband was shocked when he saw the apartment for the first time and it was quite difficult to live there. She talks about it with a smile now, but we might imagine how tough it would have been then.
Professor Tao has two sons. The elder son has grown up and is living in Hawaii, and the younger son is attending Chadwick International. In the Korean system, he would be in high school, and interestingly he graduated Korean elementary school and middle school. Most foreign families send their children to an international school, but she did not. We asked why and she said she did not have enough money to afford it. In 2011, when Professor Tao came to Korea, Chadwick International was the only international school, and the tuition was unimaginably high. She just could not think about it.
The second reason she sent her son to a Korean school was that he was becoming eight and she wanted him to exchange with others by experiencing a different language and culture. Fortunately, he was quite social and active and adjusted quickly. As he attended Korean schools, he has more friends and speaks Korean more fluently than Professor Tao. She loves seeing movies together with her son, but she misses that because he is now a 16-year-old adolescent and keeps a distance from her when they go out.
Professor Tao has little free time due to her busy schedule and she loves going out around the city on her bicycle. We even ran into her going to work on her bicycle on the interview day. As she is quite busy and can hardly spare time for exercise, a bicycle seems to be energizing her life.
Professor Tao has been living in Korea for eight years but has not been to Jeju Island yet. Traveling seems to be a pie in the sky considering her busy schedule, her husband’s preference for tranquil comport, and her son who is busy with school. But at least she has been to Busan, Daejeon, Gyeongju. She says that she really loved it in Taebaeksan Mountain and the coast of the East Sea that she visited this summer. She says she made a happy memory while enjoying a quiet and comfortable beach, swimming, and even delicious seafood.
# STRIVING FOR HIGH QUALITY EDUCATION AND FOSTERING GLOBAL TALENT
Incheon National University offered the professor’s position and installed her in her office to bring her to Korea, and Professor Tao demonstrated her capabilities and advanced to the position of the Dean of the Department of Public Administration. We wonder what public administration means to her and what she is determined to do as a professor.
Professor Tao said, “ The science of public administration teaches and prepares people to work for the government.” It is something they learn in order to contribute to and operate a number of government agencies. However, the science of public administration is filled with a variety of theories and scholars, making it quite difficult to study even in Korean. And this in English? Professor Tao says that is the reason she is here. “The science of public administration is not something you memorize but have to understand. Students need someone to explain the various theories and scholars in plain words.” Professor Tao sees it as a bold decision for the vision and development of the school, which is preparing for another leap by explaining about the history of Incheon National University which started out as a municipal college and grew into a national university. She also said it is designed to provide students with high quality education so that they do not fall behind when competing against students from prestigious universities in Seoul. In fact, such efforts have come to fruition. Students are doing well, and graduates are finding employment at leading banks, companies, and various international organizations and demonstrating their capabilities. Professor Tao showed her determination that she will continue to make efforts to provide excellent education, keeping up with the times to foster global talent.
1. With son at Hong Kong Disneyland in January
2. While travelling in New Zealand in April
3. While travelling in Paris in March