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Chairman Soo-Young Lee Named Among the Heroes of Philanthropy in Asia
Chairman Soo-Young Lee from the KAIST Development Foundation was named one of 15 philanthropists who made the biggest donations in the Asia-Pacific region by Forbes Asia on November 11. The annual Heroes of Philanthropy list features the 15 the most generous individual philanthropists who are donating from their personal fortunes, not through companies. This year, the biggest philanthropies donated to make a difference in wide arrays of sectors such as Covid-19 relief to education and the arts. Chairman Lee donated totaling 68 billion KRW to KAIST in July. Her donation marked the largest donation KAIST has ever received. She is one of two Korean philanthropists that Forbes selected. Honorary Chairman of GS Caltex Dong-Soo Huh also made the list. Her donation will establish the Soo-Young Lee Science Education Foundation to support ‘the Singularity Professor program’ that KAIST is launching. She expressed confidence that her donation will fund KAIST researchers to make breakthroughs that will lead to a Nobel Prize. “Without the advancement of science and technology, Korea cannot be one of the top countries in the world. I believe KAIST can make it with our all supports,” she frequently said when asked why she selected KAIST for her donation. Chairman Lee previously made generous donations in 2012 and 2016 and said she plans to make another gift to KAIST in the very near future.
KAIST Receives $57 Million Donation to Enhance Research
The largest amount since the opening of KAIST will fund ‘Singularity Professors’ KAIST Development Foundation Chairman Soo-Young Lee made a gift of real estate estimated at approximately $57 million on July 23. This is the largest donation KAIST has received since it was founded in 1971. The fund will establish the “Soo-Young Lee Science Education Foundation” and the proceeds of the foundation will go to the “Singularity Professors” as necessary resources to help make discoveries and design new approaches to accelerate breakthroughs. “KAIST should be the institute that will produce first Korean Nobel laureate in the field of science. I hope this fund will be utilized to enable Korea to stand out in this challenging time by accomplishing breakthroughs nobody has never imagined,” said Chairman Lee during the donation ceremony at KAIST’s campus in Daejeon. This is Chairman Lee’s third donation following the $6.7 million donation in 2012 and the $830,000 donation in 2016. Chairman Lee began her career as a journalist in 1963. In 1981, she started her own business by launching Kwangwon Ranch and became a successful businesswoman. In 1988, Chairman Lee established the real estate company Kwangwon Industries. After receiving an honorary doctorate from KAIST in 2012, she has served as the chairman of the KAIST Development Foundation from 2013. Chairman Lee expressed her intention to make another donation to KAIST in the near future during the news conference. “People matter most for advancing the world. KAIST has a very distinct mission to foster the brightest minds and will drive the nation to move forward. I have worked with KAIST for quite long time so that I have a strong belief that KAIST is the one that will not only make contributions to Korea but also to all humanity,” she explained. “For example, about one-fourth of the R&D manpower at Samsung Electronics is from KAIST. In 2019, Samsung Electronics recorded a revenue of approximately $206 billion which accounted for about 16% of national GDP. KAIST is the one that fosters global talents who are working at global company such as Samsung and many others.” KAIST President Sung-Chul Shin also expressed his deep respect for Chairman Lee’s decision, saying that the entire KAIST community will make every effort to keep up Chairman Lee’s noble idea encouraging KAIST to push forward and help realize KAIST’s role and mission. (END)
Singularity Professors Represent the Future of Research at KAIST
KAIST will launch a Singularity Professor track, which gives more freedom to researchers for pursuing their research goal. This more flexible and creative research environment institutionally supports researchers as they dive deeper into their research for a longer period of time without any strings attached. The track was established in an effort to ensure more competitive researchers who can lead the way for new advances in science and technology. This innovative research initiative is part of KAIST’s expansive effort to envision and position itself to build global research competitiveness in the wake of its 50th anniversary in 2021 and beyond. From this year, KAIST will select two to three research faculty for this special track with full-scale funding for 10 years. Singularity Professors will have their annual performance evaluations waived for 10 years. Instead, their research will be reviewed in their fifth year. The professors in this track will not participate in government-funded R&D projects and be fully funded by KAIST’s endowment. In addition to those newly hired into this track, Singularity Professorships are opens to existing faculty members. The selection criteria are very simple but highly demanding: one who can pivot an existing academic paradigm or invent a new discipline by presenting a novel scientific theory. KAIST recently hosted a briefing session for current faculty members and encouraged them to apply for the new track. As part of the selection criteria, the research topic’s innovativeness, feasibility, and appropriateness will be major factors for this track. Employment under this track will continue for up to 20 years. After receiving an evaluation of Very Satisfactory at the end of first ten-year contract, another ten years will be added. President Sung-Chul Shin, who has pushed for this system since he took office in 2017, said during the briefing session, “It takes quite a long time to bear fruit in academics, especially in science. I am very delighted that KAIST is paving the way for building a longer-term research environment which allows full and longer commitments for research that the faculty is excited to try. That’s the first step to sow the seeds for bearing fruit in academics, especially in science.” This is a paradigm shift to embrace transformation in a new era. The new institutional strategy supports the change from a fast follower to a first mover during these technologically turbulent times. Under its Global Singularity Research Projects initiative, KAIST already selected focus research topics in the most challenging as well as most creative fields of neuro-rehabilitation, new materials, and molecular optogenetics. “Especially in the post-COVID era, we have a very clear mission for the world. Our knowledge should translate into global value that can benefit those suffering from this pandemic, and mitigate the inequity coming from the digital discrepancies,” President Shin added. (END)
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