(April 2, 2015)
On April 1st, I have assumed my duties as the 12th president of Hiroshima University, replacing my predecessor Toshimasa Asahara. I would appreciate your kind support.
At present, Science and Technology are making remarkable advances. Despite this, we are faced with numerous unsolved problems such as infectious diseases like SARS or Ebola hemorrhagic fever, frequent natural disasters caused by global climate change or recurrent regional and religious conflicts and acts of terrorism. In such an environment, we have to deeply consider the future direction of Hiroshima University. One of our important point of views is to foster “peace-pursuing cultured individuals with international experience”. In order to achieve this goal, I think that it is essential to uphold the idea of “3 L and 1 R”.
The first “L” is for “Legacy”. Hiroshima University was formed by merging Hiroshima University of Literature and Science and eight other predecessor institutes. The historical roots of the oldest predecessor Hiroshima Normal School go back 140 years. There is no other national university with so many diverse predecessors of different tradition and fields of specialization. Furthermore we are proud to say that from the Meiji Period, our university has produced a large number of teachers and researchers of junior and senior high school education nationwide. This is a feature of our university we pride ourselves on, and is also mentioned by the “Redefinition of the Mission of National University” of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).
In November 1950, the first president of Hiroshima University, Tatsuo Morito, former Minister of Education, held a speech at the university’s establishment ceremony strongly pleading for the realization of "a single unified university, free and pursuing peace". The history of Hiroshima University is, in my view, a story of realizing the above founding ideals whilst overcoming difficulties.
The second “L” represents “Liberal Arts”. The recommendations of the Science Council of Japan, published in 2010 under the title of “Cultivation and Liberal Arts Education for the 21st Century in Japan” consist of many, varied suggestions. To correspond with the crucial changes in media and information, we have to “rebuild cultivation”. It says: “To assess the issues our society is facing now and to continuously find a method to solve them, it is essential to improve the level of basic knowledge and cultivation.”
SNS (Social Networking Service) is exploding and “anti-intellectualism” is currently widespread. Concerning the complexity of the present situation, I think that the indication described above is to the point. I am convinced that in a time of “no known solutions”, we need personnel with imagination and acting power based on rich cultivation. Efforts to “strengthen world-class specialized education” are a crucial pillar of university education, but liberal arts education is the source for fostering people capable of building rich human relationship and a broad range of academic knowledge and skills. Hiroshima University is proud of its traditions and the achievements of its national high level liberal arts education. Based on our accomplishments, we will continue to enhance education in liberal arts and are considering cooperation with other public and private universities in our region.
The third “L” stands for “Locality”. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th 1945 will remain forever engraved in the memory of Hiroshima University. Many of its predecessors located all over the city were completely destroyed and a large number of students and teachers lost their precious lives. In “Research on Atomic Bomb Disaster at Hiroshima University: “The Fire of Life and Death” Academic Edition”, published in 1977, Haruo Takeyama, the then president of the university described the disaster of atomic bombing as the “core origin of our academic activities.” As a university at the first location afflicted by atomic bombing, Hiroshima University has a special mission in human history. Four years ago, when the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster occurred, Hiroshima University relentlessly dispatched radiation emergency medical assistance teams. These efforts to support the afflicted areas are proof of our humanitarian tradition. It also means that Hiroshima University’s “Locality” is directly connected with “global” issues.
The 3L’s; Legacy, Liberal Arts and Locality are the fundament of Hiroshima University. With these three important pillars of education and research, Hiroshima University, located in Hiroshima, the world-famous City of Peace, will be able to produce “peace-pursuing cultured individuals with international experience”.
To be more specific: Quality assurance in education and globalization are indispensable to universities. First of all, it is essential to actively accept international students and to encourage sending Japanese students abroad. We have to tackle the process of far-reaching educational reforms. Together with joint-degree programs and credit transfer systems with foreign universities, we should promote short-time employment of foreign teachers on sabbatical leaves. Furthermore, as first step of our internationalization strategy, we appointed Prof. Dr. Ir. Ginandjar Kartasasmita, a former Minister of the Republic of Indonesia and present President's representative of the Indonesian Red Cross Society, as one of the external councilors of the Hiroshima University Administrative Council. We expect him to give honest advice from a global point of view.
The final pillar is “R”, which stands for “Research University”. As a research university, it is absolutely necessary to foster international research personnel. Top-level research activities are not only necessary for educating international researchers, but also for creating globally educated persons who are not caught by traditional values and able to think freely. As far as research is concerned, due to the efforts of the leadership under former president Asahara, our university was elected by MEXT as part of the “Program for Promoting the Enhancement of Research Universities” in 2013 and became known as a “Research University” at home and abroad. I believe that environmental improvement will be promoted with the aim of building new research bases and increasing research power.
Furthermore, in 2014, our university has been selected by MEXT for the “Top Global University Project” as one of Japan’s top 13 universities, providing a world-class research and education (Type A). This is a great honor for all constituent members of Hiroshima University. At the same time, it means that our nation and the people of Japan expect us to fulfill our great responsibilities and duties. We have to steadily walk the path to become a “world-class research university, creating new forms of knowledge”.
Ever since the Japanese national universities were incorporated, management expenses grants have decreased year by year, and unfortunately, this trend has accelerated. Getting grants-in-aid for scientific research and other competitive funds is absolutely necessary for the administration of our university. In addition, I will actively improve our support system by the University Management Planning Office and URA etc.
I, myself, have some experiences of research and fund-raising in relation to industry-academia-government collaborations. I will use my experience to break new ground in this field. As far as the university fund is concerned, we continuously have received donations from teachers and other staff, but I will put all of my effort into fund-raising from alumni and local companies and I will try to procure large foreign donations.
On the one hand, our society and university education are experiencing a major upheaval. The Industrial Competitiveness Council has been discussing the establishment of new systems like “Special Graduate Schools (TOKUTEI)”, “Excellent Graduate Schools (TAKUETSU)” or “Excellent Researchers (TAKUETSU)” etc. as shown in the statement of “Reform of National Universities from the view of innovation – Basic concept”. Relating to this, the investigative commission of MEXT is discussing the “Principles of the management expenses grants in the Third Midterm Goal Period”. Furthermore, the Education Rebuilding Implementation Council has published the “Education for Realizing a Society that is Inclusive and Continuously Learning, and the Vitalization of Local Economies (the sixth proposal)”. In addition, the government is discussing the “5th Phase of the Science and Technology Basic Plan”. There are various reform plans ongoing, and it is necessary to respond to them adequately.
It is well known that in the Academic Year of 2016, we will enter the Third Midterm Goal Period. In June of this year, we are going to submit the proposal of our Midterm Targets and Midterm Plan to MEXT. At the moment, our Midterm Targets and Midterm Plan team are discussing the above matters. However, “Education” as the fundament of a university, is one of the largest national projects of this century. I think that we should bring together the wisdom of all of the constituent members and build the fundament of a “University of World-wide Repute and Splendor for Years into the Future”.
Specifically, it is my aim to enhance the university’s structure so as to make optimum use of our strength and characteristics recognized by the “Redefinition of the Mission of National University” of MEXT, and I want to realize the “Hiroshima University Innovation Initiative” to meet the target values published in concept statements of the MEXT’s “Program for promoting the enhancement of research universities” and the “Top Global University Project” (Type A ).
Considering the recent rapid social change, I additionally plan to reform the “Long-Term Vision of Hiroshima University” which was prepared in June 2009 envisioning the state of Hiroshima University 10 to 15 years later, with the purpose of creating a “University of World-wide Repute and Splendor for Years into the Future”.
So far, I have attempted to present my plans and visions, but I know that these reforms cannot succeed without your love for Hiroshima University and your passion and wisdom. Placing importance on the daily conversation with the students and all of the faculty members, I intend to make prompt decisions. To enhance the presence of Hiroshima University, I will dispatch information at multiple levels to the region, the nation and to the world. I will make ardent efforts to create an environment to make everybody feel “happy to study or work at Hiroshima University”. It is my wish that all of us, students and university staff，work together to build a “University of World-wide Repute and Splendor for Years into the Future”.
Again, thank you very much in advance for your support in my endeavors.
President, Hiroshima University