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Tuesday, Sep 26, 2023


By SARA FISHER Staff Reporter Talk about bad timing. Just a few months ago, Woodbury University’s new President, Kenneth Nielsen, announced plans to aggressively develop the Burbank university’s niche in Asian business by developing a new Pacific Rim program and by recruiting more foreign students from Asian countries. Then the Asian markets tumbled in December, and the school immediately felt the impact. “Woodbury and other universities did in fact see an immediate, slight downturn in enrollment from the Pacific Rim countries,” said Richard King, who began at Woodbury in September as the new dean of the School of Business and Management and the director of the Pacific Rim program. “We are reassessing our programs and strategy, but we’re viewing it most of all as a chance to hone our marketing efforts.” It may seem soon for an L.A. institution to feel an effect from last month’s Asian economic crisis, but King isn’t surprised, because Asian markets have such sudden downturns and turnarounds that citizens from those countries quickly modify their behavior to accommodate. “Despite the problems, we still consider the Pacific Rim our primary market,” Nielsen said. “Right now, about 18 percent of Woodbury’s student body is international, and 80 percent of (the foreign students) come from Pacific Rim countries. We still want to aggressively increase that number through our new program. We’ll just have to see how our marketing efforts succeed now.” To accommodate the shifting Asian economies, Woodbury has been forced to retool its marketing strategy. Nielsen and King now plan to hone in on specific areas in Asia that are relatively unaffected by the downturn, to protect against investing extensive time and money recruiting in a country whose economy is on the verge of collapse. “We’re learning that we cannot have all our eggs in one basket, so to speak,” King said. “We’ve decided to focus strongly on (Southeast Asian) countries and Greater China, meaning Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland.” King believes that as the readjustments in the Asian economy continue, Asian companies will search out employees with Western business backgrounds. “Woodbury emphasizes a pragmatic business philosophy that has an entrepreneurial, no-nonsense approach,” he said. “This is what Asian institutions are interested in and we believe that we can continue to attract students from those countries.” Woodbury’s Pacific Rim program will roll out in the second quarter of 1998 as scheduled. Already, King is organizing a series of conferences on Pacific Rim issues, with speakers from the public and private sectors from various countries participating. Woodbury also plans to develop a network of “sister” universities, and is looking for colleges in Asia that have business programs and are interested in affiliation.

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