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New Year’s Address 2015.1.5

New Year’s Address 2015.1.5

January 5, 2015

New Year’s Address
“Taking a leap forward in 2015”

Happy New Year !
As the New Year starts, I dearly wish that 2015 will be a splendid year in all respects for human society, our country, our university and for all of you.
The environment surrounding human society is growing more and more complicated and diverse, and changes are increasing significantly. Scientific progress has become unstoppable: 3D printing, big data, multifunctional robots, artificial intelligence and regenerative medicine are accelerating technology advancement. Accompanying that, a number of new problems have emerged: Erratic democratization movements, widening gap between rich and poor, the rise of the Islamic State, terrorism, energy, food and water issues due to the earth’s limited resources and natural disasters such as typhoons, concentrated heavy rain and tornado damage and so forth. Those are just some of the problems human society is facing and has to solve in order to coexist.
In such a rapidly changing social environment, I think that it is necessary that Hiroshima University as an institute of higher education be aware of its role and steadily fulfills its obligations. After Hiroshima University became a national university corporation, the above-mentioned strategy became visible in the settings of our Midterm Goals and Midterm Plans, and was written in the declaration of our Long-Term Vision. Details about specific targets can be found in documentations regarding the “Program for promoting the enhancement of research universities” and the “Top Global University Project”.
To cope with the rapid globalization in all fields of our society, it is very important to focus on the global standard of education and to make efforts toward quality assurance of higher education. Students should develop independent-minded attitude and customs of life-long learning during their college days. We have to work on tightening academic assessment and introducing measures such as a numbering system for course syllabus and e-learning portfolio etc. in order to assure the quality of education. We also plan to improve Double Degree and Joint Degree-programs. In addition, increasing the numbers of foreign students we accept into our university, and Japanese students we send to foreign universities is vital for our advancement into a more globalized institution. Furthermore, we will enforce information transmission to the rest of the world by publishing the “University Portrait”, opening the new website “Explore HU” for international students, and by establishing websites for former international students who went back to their home countries in order to strengthen network of alumni who are active in global society and to recruit “international exchange ambassadors” among them.
Our detailed plan toward increasing ability to research was released in the “Program for promoting the enhancement of research universities” of the year before last. With the aim to create stable global research bases for domains of HU specific knowledge, we are going to establish “Incubation Study Bases” and “Research ‘Independent Research Stage’ – Bases”, which are supported by the university as a whole. We will appoint DP “Distinguished Professors” and DR “Distinguished Researchers” as representatives of our university for a solid backup. In order to raise ability to research and global competitiveness we plan to invite young researchers from Japan and abroad, to introduce the systems of annual salary and individual evaluation. Furthermore, we are going to support the organization of international academic conferences to activate worldwide research activities to enhance transmission of research achievements to the rest of the world. We also intend to promote assistance for domestic and international fund raising and for information gathering in this regard.
The growing aging of society, the sophistication and specialization of medical treatment and regional medical care issues etc. are serious challenges our country’s medical system has to cope with. National universities make a big contribution to community healthcare. I think that in future we have to meet the expectations of international contribution through fostering medical staff and providing advanced medical care. As overconcentration in our country is progressing, if we pay attention in the future, it is important to keep the communities alive and to revitalize the regions. It is the mission of universities to contribute to the local communities through education and research. We have to respond to these expectations. Hiroshima University also has to assume an important role in producing excellent personnel and developing broad basic research, planning joint and contracted research with enterprises and connecting brilliant research achievements to implementation for the benefit of society. I think that as a national university, we are strongly expected to make great efforts towardrevitalization of the region.
In order to develop education at a global standard and to raise the ability to research, it is necessary to introduce performance measurement showing the extent of completion and achievements. Since 2014, we have implemented the “individual faculty evaluation system” and by monitoring the performance of each department and of the university as a whole, we hope to improve quality of education and research. Furthermore, we plan to separate the teacher and education organizations to establish new education and research systems, able to respond flexibly to the rapidly evolving academic research. After having guaranteed highly-diversified education and research at university, we intend to increase governance power aiming to raise ability of education and research.
The period of 7 years and 8 months of my presidency of this university was a time of rapid changes in the social environment, compelling us to continuously look toward the global society. When I, as a person responsible for the management of our university, reflect upon its achievements during that period and consider its future, I think that Hiroshima University has to fulfill its enormous social responsibilities and meet the high expectations from society. I believe that fulfilling our responsibilities would be a great contribution we could make to Japan and the human society.
As long as we, the constituent members, are not losing sight of our goal of “contributing to the future society through education and research”, we will not become the pawns of accelerated changes within our social environments. Based on our achievements, I expect that 2015 will bring a leap forward by uniting university staff and students under the leadership of our new president.
I wish that our university will progress in this New Year and that the students, the faculty members and the whole of humanity will have a bright and hopeful year.

Toshimasa Asahara
President, Hiroshima University