A major figure in South Korean higher education will receive an honorary degree during commencement exercises at Colorado State University May 17.
Jungho Sonu, president of Seoul National University and 1973 alumnus of Colorado State, will be conferred an Honorary Doctor of Science degree by President Albert Yates at the all-university ceremonies in Hughes Stadium 9-10:30 a.m. May 17. Nationally syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman will deliver the commencement address.
"Dr. Sonu’s tremendous accomplishments in the sciences are a tribute to his dedication, hard work and capabilities," Yates said. "His achievements reflect the highest credit on Colorado State and on higher education in Korea." Sonu is known for landmark contributions in hydrology and engineering. He graduated from Colorado State with a doctorate in civil engineering, specializing in groundwater science and engineering, and returned to Korea in 1974 to assume the post of professor of civil engineering at Seoul National University.
Sonu’s teaching and research in groundwater and hydrology led to his involvement in engineering projects and the eventual construction of major dams in Korea. He was elected or appointed to offices including the Korea National Committee on Large Dams, the Korea Society of Civil Engineering, the Korean Water Resources Association and the Ministry of Construction.
As a leader in higher education at Seoul National University, Sonu became associate dean of Academic Affairs, director of the University Library, dean of engineering and vice president. He helped guide the university into becoming a major research institution among national and international educational systems.
Sonu’s nomination was lauded by Korean officials, including the Prime Minister, and he has enjoyed strong support from colleagues at Colorado State who remember him as a visionary scholar and a fine example of the high achievements shown by graduates from the College of Engineering.
"As a student, Dr. Sonu had a reputation as one of the sharpest and most dedicated students in the department," said Neil Grigg, chairman of the department of civil engineering. "His appointment to the presidency of Seoul National University actually came as no surprise — his entire career has been devoted to teaching and research and to the advancement of higher education in Korea and throughout the world." Sonu was inaugurated 50th president of Seoul National University in March 1996.