New Year's Greeting from President
12 Jan 2021
New Year's Greeting for 2021
Toyohashi University of Technology
President Kazuhiko Terashima
Happy New Year to you all. At the beginning of this year, I would like to wish you all good health and success in the new year. Due to the effects of the COVID-19, it is unfortunate that we have not been able to meet face-to-face, but I would like to use this opportunity to take a few moments to talk about the state of our university in the past year and our aspirations for the future. As my New Year's address to the President, I would like to offer three topics.
The first is the topic of COVID-19. Since March last year, a new coronavirus has emerged, and it has been a very difficult year for us. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all of you for your efforts. In the era of living with COVID-19, a new axis of life safety and health has been added to the conventional axes of education, research, and social contribution, and I am sure this has placed a considerable burden on everyone. However, we have to adapt these four axes in an acceptable direction, with some axes extending and others contracting in accordance with the current situation. Throughout human history, smallpox, cholera, plague, Spanish flu, etc. have threatened humanity, and the plague that struck Europe in the 14th century killed one third of the European population (25 million people), but human wisdom has overcome this.
Now, let's consider the problem of infectious diseases in contrast to war. We used to think that our generation was lucky to be born in a time of peace, without being involved in the major wars of World Wars I and II, but it was not so easy. The war exposed the stupidity of humanity. However, it can be ended by human power. On the other hand, the problem of the new coronavirus infection threatens humanity with extinction if it is not handled properly. I believe that the day will come when the problem will be brought to an end, if each individual takes responsibility for his or her own problem, if all human beings cooperate, and if we bring together the wisdom that human beings have accumulated. That is the difference between war and COVID-19. Humanity must become a team and fight against COVID-19. I believe that this will lead to a new view of the earth and humanism in the era of living with COVID-19 and post COVID-19.
Second, I would like to emphasize the importance of "students first". I mentioned only the negative aspects of COVID-19 earlier, but it has also given me great insight. Not only are face-to-face lectures the best, but online lectures are also good, and if we combine them well, we can offer better lectures than ever before. To do this, we need to promote DX. Japan is lagging behind in IT technology, but its GDP is still the third largest in the world. Japan's GDP per capita was also the second highest in 2000, but has been declining ever since, falling to 26th place in 2018. Furthermore, labor productivity has been the lowest in the G7 since comparative statistics were first collected in 1970, and there have been calls for work style reform. However, the countermeasures against COVID-19 will accelerate the reform of work styles, such as the shift to DX and telecommuting. In addition, I believe that this will accelerate the improvement of labor productivity and Society 5.0.
What we must not forget is that students are at the center of university. Education is the mainstay of university. Students are the stakeholders. It is the youth and students who will carry the future of Japan and the world. In COVID-19 calamity, we also need to educate our students well and nurture them to be useful to humanity.
However, I think students are having a hard time now. Even if they enter university with hope, they cannot go to university, cannot participate in club activities, and cannot meet their teachers. In addition, they can't eat, drink, or socialize with their friends, so they have to refrain from doing so. When I stand in students' place, this absurdity makes me angry and I cry when I think about how they feel. There was a time when I was a young man, and when I think back to that time, I think I might become depressed and neurotic in such an environment. Even under such circumstances, the students of TUT persevere and do their best. You should be proud of them. Please recognize and understand this point first.
Of course, I appreciate the efforts of our faculty and staff.
Now, there is a theory in the world that many local universities are unnecessary because of the success of online lectures. I believe that this is absolutely not true. Universities are necessary as the last place for higher education. Universities are places of community building. Universities have two major missions: education and research. Education is about teaching and research is about acquiring knowledge, where teaching is about teaching and research is about improving. It is possible to get more information online than ever before. On the other hand, "education" and "research" mean "to nurture" and "to study," respectively, and are about receiving wisdom. Students are nurtured through face-to-face discussions with professors and students, random discussions with multiple faculty members, day-long experiments, back-and-forth discussions with peers, discussions and activities with local people, internships, and employment. This will give them wisdom, sensitivity, and confidence for the rest of their lives. A community is naturally born around the university. Isn't this what you have grown up with? Of course, universities and local communities need to make an effort to have attractions and characteristics to attract students, but regardless of the development of DX technology and the reform of work styles, the starting point of a university is to nurture students.
In the area of research, we need to educate students to participate in industry-university collaboration and joint research. In international cooperation, we build good relationships with Japanese and foreign students through study abroad programs. In the area of community service, we send our students into the city to start up start-up businesses in the community and help them find employment. I would like to ask all of you to remember that students come first, to place students in the middle of education, research, and community contribution, and to provide more support for students than ever before. Ultimately, this will benefit our university, Japan, and the world. If we treat our students with that attitude once again, they will feel more positive about their current situation. First of all, please remember to be considerate and loving to your students.
Last but not least, the third one. This is my ambition for this year as the president of the university, and also my request to you. I will also talk a little about my dream.
The application for the 4th Mid-term Plan will be submitted around July this year, and we will enter the 4th period of 6 years starting March 2022. At the moment, Executive Trustee/Vice President Shinichi Yamamoto and his team are working on the outline of the plan, which will be finalized over the next few months. At the same time, since last fall, the President has submitted a proposal for a "new vision for the future of TUT", which is currently being discussed at the Strategic Planning Council. A draft of the proposal was given to each department at the end of last year.
The mid-term goals and plans will be evaluated by the government, so we need to make them unique, but we also need to consider the results. Also, the goals will be set for a span of six years. On the other hand, the new plan that I am proposing is one that looks ahead to the next 10 to 20 years, and considers how to make use of the university's individuality and originality, such as its ideal image, the image of human resources for students, flagship research, admissions strategy, and educational curriculum, and how to make the university unique and branded. With this long-range ideal goal and plan firmly in place, we are planning to formulate our fourth medium-term goal and plan for the next six years. By the fall of this year, we will have established our long-term goals and our fourth medium-term goals and plans, and based on these goals and plans, we will speedily move forward to achieve our innovative goals in education, research, international relations, and regional cooperation.
Also, in my proposal for a new concept, I have drawn a dream (preferably during my tenure) of creating a symbolic tower and a DXification pavilion in our university, a building that combines science technology and liberal arts in the future. I would like to build a symbolic tower that will have a decentralized entrance/graduation ceremony in the era of living with COVID-19, an introduction to TUT's latest research, a digital museum, a digital concert hall, a restaurant, and a real-time view of Toyohashi from the top of the tower from the restaurant on the ground. I would like to create a community where local people can participate.
By the way, in my speech before I became the president, I said
"To create a vibrant university that contributes to society - to change the world through technology and science". Our university is particularly strong in sensors, robotics, and IT, so if I were to summarize these areas in one word, it would be CPS (Cyber Physical Systems). We will educate students in the same way, and then polish their own specialties and educate them to become students who are capable of integrating different fields of study and who are sought by society for their depth and breadth. In research, we will promote interdisciplinary research with CPS as the core and EIIRIS as the flagship, and conduct applied research at the same time as basic research to create a world-class research university that is strong in practical application and social implementation. Furthermore, we are currently working to strengthen regional cooperation withHigashimikawa region.
Specially Project Professor Kawai and his team are currently holding meetings with the Toyohashi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Higashi Mikawa Council. As a result, joint research and human resource development education in industry-university collaboration under the National University Strengthening Promotion Project, which is being promoted with Nagaoka University of Technology and the National Institute of Technology, is expected to become more active, led by Executive Trustee/Vice President Noriyoshi Kakuta.
In Toyohashi, there is currently a food valley concept, which aims to strengthen agriculture and food, and will be the centerpiece of the redevelopment in front of the station, which is being promoted by Mr. Kamino, Executive Trustee of the university. In addition, the new mayor of Toyohashi, Mr. Asai, has expressed his desire to collaborate with our university in the areas of entrepreneurship, startups, and station AI Project. For our university, too, the Food Valley concept is a great opportunity to collaborate with the local community, as it is essential for the innovation education of our students in the fields of agriculture, CPS (sensor and robotics), and start-up businesses. Toyohashi City and Gamagori City have also announced their intention to improve the health and medical welfare fields, and this spring the university will enter into a comprehensive alliance with hospitals and medical universities, so we will further promote cooperation with the region in this field as well.
Collecting, Connecting, Illuminating. This is what I stated in my policy statement. As President, I will gather excellent human resources and funds, and connect them in a network so that they can work organically. Then, I will shine a light on them so that they can see, and shine in the world. That's what I'm trying to do.
As a side note, the concept I am advocating, "Collecting, Connecting, Illuminating" is similar to something, though by coincidence. Let me introduce it to you. Dr. David Theiss, a professor at the Graduate School of Management, University of California, Berkeley, proposed the concept of "Dynamic Capability" in a paper published in 1997. Dynamic Capability consists of three processes. The first is "sensing" which is the process of "detecting" business opportunities and threats. The second is "seizing," which is moving human resources and other resources to respond to perceived business opportunities and threats, and "gaining" competitive advantage. The third is "transforming," which means that even after gaining a competitive advantage, the company continues to improve the way it utilizes its resources and "transforms" its strategy.
This is why I call my concept of "Collecting, Connecting, Illuminating" "Dynamic Branding".
This is because I have been thinking about branding our university for a long time.
This is because I believe that the method of "Collecting, Connecting, and Illuminating" is useful for branding.
Regarding "Collecting, Connecting, Illuminating, since I became the new president in April last year, I have been working on the following points;
As for "Collecting", we have changed the personnel system for assistant professors to a tenure-track system to attract excellent faculty members. We also negotiated with the president of a certain foundation to obtain a scholarship for doctoral students (about tens of millions of yen per year). Together with the RAC, we also established several new joint research courses and shifted to a full-scale version of OPERA (led by Dr. Sawada).
As for "Connecting", we are currently preparing to collaborate with the Higashi Mikawa Council, Toyohashi City, and the Toyohashi Chamber of Commerce and Industry in order to connect with the local community. We are also preparing for a comprehensive partnership for medical-industrial collaboration with several organizations. In addition, we will try to connect EIIRIS with other institutions, set up a promotion system for outstanding young faculty members of the university, try to create star young faculty members, reform the structure of EIIRIS, and connect EIIRIS researchers with internal and global researchers to create flagships.
As for "Illuminating", I will establish the President's Award this year. We will also establish new research awards, such as the Best Paper Award and the Best Manufacturing Award, in addition to the existing awards for obtaining external funding. We will also create awards for international collaboration, industry-academia collaboration, technical college-university collaboration, and university contribution, and provide an award system for faculty members who are working hard.
These are the results of one year's work, and over the next three years, I would like to further expand and develop the main task of the President, which is to "Colleting, Connecting, and Illuminating". I hope that you will all have not only your own visions, but also your own goals with your stakeholders in mind, and implement "Dynamic Branding".
Last but not least, I hope that this year will be a good one for all of you and for the university, and I would like to conclude my New Year's greeting for 2021.