IU business school dean carries Olympic torch in Seoul this weekend

Idie Kesner

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WTHR) – Indiana University is not sending any athletes to the winter Olympic games in PyeongChang, South Korea. But the Kelley School of Business is represented in the torch relay.

Idie Kesner, dean of the IU Kelley School of Business, hikes a mountain in Colorado every summer. She's confident she can handle a short jog through downtown Seoul Saturday on her leg of the Olympic torch relay.

“I'm hopeful that I might be able to do the jog aspect of it and carry the torch very high,” Kesner said, chuckling during an interview in her Bloomington office. “I'm told that it weighs somewhere between three and five pounds, so hopefully I can still carry it over my head and do that jog. I'm hopeful that I'll come back victorious having been able to hold that torch the whole time over my head.”

Kesner received the invitation and takes the torch from Curt Ferguson, president of Greater China and Korea for Coca-Cola, an Olympic sponsor. Ferguson is a 1980 Kelley School of Business graduate. Kesner hands off to Young-Jin Kim, a 1984 MBA Kelley grad and chairman and CEO of Handok Inc, a South Korean pharmaceutical and health care company.

“It's not something that I ever imagined would happen, but I'm very excited to have this opportunity,” said Kesner. "It is definitely a once in a lifetime experience. I think it speaks to the appreciation that we have for Korea, that we have for our partnerships in Korea, but also we have for the Korean people."

Kesner travels to South Korea regularly. Kelley School of business offers a dual MBA program with Sungkyunkwan University, the oldest university in South Korea. Kesner teaches a course there every summer.

IU has over 6,600 Korean alumni, including more than 1,000 living in Seoul. Over 800 Korean students attend IU in Bloomington.

"I heard a lot of good stories about IU Kelley,” said freshman Seounghyun Park working in Hodge Hall. “They offer really practical courses that students can learn about before they enter into the real world."

Park is disappointed he'll miss the games in his home country while studying in Bloomington.

"Hosting the PyeongChang Olympics to our citizens means that we have overcome those economic hardships and we are ready to host a big game and enjoy this event with people from different countries,” said Park. "PyeongChang will attract many professional athletic players and people from other foreign countries. That will bring a lot of attention and interest from other countries.

Kesner will meet with IU alumni in Seoul before returning to Bloomington next week.

"Education and sports share something in common, that we can learn about each other's culture,” said Kesner. “We can learn about and appreciate what other countries are all about through sports and education.”