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Staff writer

Student interest in international affairs is changing the face of American higher education, said Richard McCormick, president of the University of Washington in an interview Monday in Tokyo with The Japan Times.

“A growing number of students come to the university intending to have an international dimension to their lives or their careers. They’re integrating international studies into practically everything they study,” he said. “That being increasingly important to our students, it’s more important than ever that the university deepen its global ties.”

With this in mind, McCormick is making his first visit to Japan this week to meet with alumni in Asia and the presidents of the university’s three Japanese sister schools, Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo Institute of Technology and Keio University, with which it has regular student exchanges.

From Japan, McCormick will travel to South Korea to participate in the second meeting of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, a group of presidents of top Pacific Rim universities that aims to increase educational and research cooperation and to serve as the academic support arm for the Asian Pacific Economic Consortium, he said.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Foley, an alumnus, said his own interest in Asia began during his 30 years as a congressman from Washington, a state with important commercial and academic ties to Japan.

Lately, he added, the growing interest in Asia is not limited to university students, but includes a new generation of American elementary, junior high and high school students studying Japanese culture and language. “I’m impressed at how many young people I meet really have made excellent achievements in Japanese,” Foley said.

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