Meredith Jung-En Woo

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Meredith Jung-En Woo
Meredith Jung-En Woo.JPG
Born Seoul, South Korea
Occupation President of Sweet Briar College
Korean name
Hangul 우정은
Revised Romanization U Jeong-eun
McCune–Reischauer U Chŏng'ŭn

Meredith Jung-En Woo (born 1958) is the 13th and current President of Sweet Briar College, and the former director of the International Higher Education Support Program at the Open Society Foundation in London. She was also previously the Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia; she began her post on June 1, 2008.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Woo was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, and attended an international high school in Tokyo, Japan. She came to the United States in 1976, and graduated magna cum laude from Bowdoin College, majoring in English literature and history (1980). She has received an M.A. in international affairs (1982), and Latin American studies (1984), and a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University (1988). Her dissertation was awarded the university's highest distinction. She is married to Korean historian Bruce Cumings of the University of Chicago and is the sister-in-law of former South Korean ambassador to the United Kingdom Yoon-Je Cho.


In 1996, Woo was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve on the Presidential Commission on U.S.-Pacific Trade and Investment Policy. She has consulted for the World Bank, the United States Trade Representative, Social Science Research Council, Asian Development Bank Institute, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, the Asia Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.[1] She serves on the Board of Directors for the Japan Policy Research Institute, Santa Monica, CA, and the editorial board of the Journal of East Asian Politics. She additionally serves as an occasional guest expert on Korean politics for such media outlets as PBS, CNN, and The New York Times.[citation needed]

Woo taught at Northwestern University (1989–2000), as well as Colgate University and Columbia University. She then became Professor of Political Science and Korea Foundation Professor of Korean studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her teaching and research interests include international political economy, economic development, East Asian politics, and U.S.-East Asian relations. She was named as Associate Dean for the Social Sciences of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University in May 2007 for a three-year term beginning July 1, 2007. She has been Director of the Korean Studies Program, and served on the executive committee of the Department of Political Science and the steering committees of the Program in Organizational Studies and the International Institute. She also served a three-year term on the College’s Social Science Divisional Committee.[citation needed]

On October 7, 2013, Woo announced her resignation from the position of Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, effective May 2014, by University of Virginia email. She plans to write a book named The Three Worlds of East Asian Capitalism, and then to return to teaching.[2]

On January 12, 2015, the Open Society Foundation announced the appointment of Woo as director of the International Higher Education Support Program, based in the foundation's London office.[3]

On February 6, 2017, Sweet Briar College announced that Woo would become the 13th president of the college; and was instated on May 15, 2017, replacing president Phillip C. Stone.[4][5]


She has authored and edited seven books, published mostly under the name Meredith Woo-Cumings. They include Race to the Swift: State and Finance in Korean Industrialization (Columbia University Press, 1991), which was published under the name Jung-en Woo; Past as Prelude: History in the Making of the New World Order (Westview Press, 1991); Capital Ungoverned: Liberalizing Finance in Interventionist States (Cornell University Press, 1996), The Developmental State (Cornell University Press, 1999), as well as the co-authored report of the Presidential Report, Building American Prosperity in the 21st Century: Report of the Presidential Commission on United States-Pacific Trade and Investment Policy (Government Printing Office, 1997). Her book Neoliberalism and Reform in East Asia (2007) was the result of a project sponsored by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development and the Rockefeller Foundation.[1]

  • Race to the Swift: State and Finance in Korean Industrialization Columbia University Press, 1991.
  • Past as Prelude: History in the Making of the New World Order Westview Press, 1991.
  • Capital Ungoverned: Liberalizing Finance in Interventionist States Cornell University Press, 1996.
  • The Developmental State Cornell University Press, 1999.
  • Neoliberalism and Institutional Reform in East Asia Palgrave, 2007.
  • What Does North Korea Want? op-ed in The New York Times published 7 July 2006, co-authored with Bruce Cumings