By Rashad Mulla, Staff Writer

George Mason University is seeking to build relationships beyond its established boundaries.

Within the last four years, Mason officials have contacted a number of universities in South Korea to explore the possibilities of setting up partnerships there. Already, Mason has recruited a number of Korean undergraduate students through admissions trips.

And in October 2009, the School of Art hosted a delegation from Kyonggi University, based in Suwon.

According to Provost Peter Stearns, the big project — still in its exploration stages — is a potential international education center in the
Incheon Free Economic Zone, directly west of Seoul. Mason officials are exploring whether such a plan is feasible, Stearns said.

“We have funded a formal feasibility study to see if conditions will allow us to set up operation[s] there,” he said. “This is a strong interest, but it is not yet a commitment. Lots of questions still need to be answered, but we’d love to do this if the conditions warrant it.”

In January, Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen (D-34th) introduced Senate Bill No. 712, which authorizes the exploration of the Incheon process.

“This partnership will establish a long-term alliance between GMU and South Korea, and effectively have a positive economic impact in Virginia,” Petersen said in a press release.

Stearns said the Incheon project is not set in stone, and still may not happen, but Mason is taking all the necessary precautions to make sure such a partnership can exist without deducting funds from the Fairfax campus.

“This has to be revenue-neutral,” Stearns said. “We would not and we cannot use tuition money or state money here to pay for things over there.”