Office of the President

2019 New Year’s Greeting

Happy New Year from Kyushu University. On behalf of the University, I hope that this new year finds you in good health.

I would like to begin by looking back on the major political, economic, and societal events of 2018. Let’s first look outside of Japan. In February, the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games were held. The inter-Korean summit took place in April, followed by the North Korea–United States summit in June. In July, the Tham Luang cave rescue in Thailand was followed by the Attica wildfires in Greece. In September, the Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami struck Indonesia. November saw Britain formalize their withdrawal from the EU. And in December, France was swept up in the gilets jaunes, or yellow vests, movement.

Here in Japan, January saw cryptocurrencies became mainstream news. In February, the mascots of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were revealed. March saw the reemergence of the Morimoto Gakuen scandal. In April, a fatal landslide hit Nakatsu in Oita Prefecture. May saw the Nihon University football team wrapped up in a scandal over an illegal tackle. In June, a large earthquake struck Osaka, and the national Diet passed a controversial work style reform bill. In July, heavy rains resulted in widespread flooding across southwestern Japan, and lawmakers enacted legislation that will legalize the construction of casinos. In August, Tokyo Medical University admitted to changing entrance exam results to exclude women. September saw Typhoon Jebji (Typhoon No. 21), the most powerful to hit Japan in 25 years, as well as the Hokkaido Eastern Iburi earthquake. In October, Japanese scientist Tasuku Honjo received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In November, Nissan president Ghosn was arrested over allegations of financial misconduct. December saw the start of 4K and 8K ultra-high-definition broadcasting in Japan. It was also decided that Emperor Akihito will abdicate on April 30, 2019.

I would also like to share Kyushu University’s year in review amid such tumultuous times at home and abroad. 2018 proved to be a historic year for Kyushu University. January started the year off with a meeting of the Kyushu University Taiwan Alumni Association as well as Kyushu University Energy Week 2018. In February, the supercomputer system ITO was brought online, the Kyushu University Nihonbashi Satellite opened in the LINK-J Nihonbashi Life Science Building, and we started a new CEO Club. In March, the Kyushu Venture Council convened. In April, we held the inaugural entrance ceremony for the School of Interdisciplinary Science and Innovation and began offering a new minor program for our four schools in the humanities and social sciences. In May, a generous endowment of 516 million yen from Mr. Hiroo Nakamoto allowed for the establishment of the Hiroo Nakamoto Prize, and we participated in the University Presidents’ Conference between Fukuoka and Busan. In June, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the School of Design and opened a new university shop inside of Big Orange. In July, Kyushu University hosted the 20th Congress of the International Academy of Comparative Law and celebrated the opening of the Jonathan KS Choi Cultural Centre of Japan. July saw the completion of Center Zone 4 as well as a new indoor pool in the university gymnasium. In August, the Kansai Alumni Association celebrated its 10th anniversary, the Kyushu University Philharmonic performed in Tokyo, and the Busan-Fukuoka Forum was held. In September, we held ceremonies to celebrate the completion of the Ito Campus, as well as the East Zone and the relocation of the Faculty of Agriculture. We also held The Academic Festival 2018 and the World Social Science Forum (WSSF) 2018. In October, the Central Library had its grand opening at Ito Campus, and we also opened the Exhibition and Observation Room of the Ishigahara Tumulus. November saw Kyushu University professor Seiji Shinkai designated a Person of Cultural Merit, a delegation led by the mayor of Aizu-Wakamatsu City to the university, and a training camp ahead of the Seven Universities Athletic Meet. In December, we held the Jiangsu Cup Chinese Speech Contest.

2019 is also shaping to be an exciting year for Kyushu University. In January, we will hold Kyushu University Energy Week 2019. In February, Ito Clinic will open, and we will commemorate the closure of the Hakozaki Campus. In March, Spring Commencement will be held, followed by the Spring Entrance Ceremony in April. In May, Japan will enthrone its new emperor, and we will hold our annual foundation day, commemorating the establishment of Kyushu University. In July, the Seven Universities Athletic Meet will begin and continue through to September, when we will hold the Autumn Commencement Ceremony. In October, we will hold the Autumn Entrance Ceremony, the Kyudai Festival, The Academic Festival 2019, and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the School of Agriculture. In November, we will host the annual QS-APPLE (Asia-Pacific Professional Leaders in Education) conference.

When I became president in 2014, I created a 6-step action plan to make Kyushu University one of the top 100 universities in the world.
1. Conducting research at the highest global standard and encouraging innovation
2. Fostering global talent
3. Contributing to the local and international communities through advanced medical care
4. Developing an enhanced campus that students, staff, and faculty members can be proud of
5. Organizational reform
6. A university that develops in tandem with society

Key Initiatives
●       Encouraging innovation through the establishment of a Research and Education Institute
●       Fostering global talent through the establishment of a new undergraduate school
●       Further revitalization of Kyushu University through reorganizing and strengthening the functions of various fields of study, especially in the social sciences and humanities.

This action plan is the roadmap that will lead us to the achievement of these goals.

Let me now introduce our new Kyushu University Renaissance Project, which is due to start this year, adopted as part of our initiative to promote management reforms. It is essential that we raise the bar of excellence in education and research if we want to be counted among the top 100 universities in the world as an international institution renowned for its high academic and research standards. The key to accomplishing this lies in the acquisition and instruction of exceptional individuals. That is why we have decided to implement the Kyushu University Renaissance Project, a comprehensive, sustainable, human resource development strategy that links undergraduate education, graduate programs, and researcher training to other existing projects that help connect high school students with the university.

In education, we are dedicated to the instruction of globally minded leaders and individuals tasked with innovation. We have also implemented an internal policy to hire 200 early-career, female, and foreign researchers to lead the next generation of research at Kyushu University. We are striving to improve productivity and to reach our true research potential by offering a research environment of academic freedom for early-career researchers.

These efforts form the basis of management reform needed to achieve the university’s next midterm goals in order to be selected as a designated national university. Starting April 2019, Kyushu University will overhaul its systems for revitalization and reform, originally begun in 2012, to further enhance university governance and place greater emphasis on the human resources that sustainably improve our education and research.

We continue to work toward an improved standing in world university rankings in order to be counted among the world’s top 100 universities. This means improving our reputation based on improved research capabilities and the international competitiveness of that research.

While our position in Times Higher Education (THE) has fallen, it has risen in the QS rankings. In 2015, Kyushu University was ranked 142nd in the world, but in 2018 we jumped to the 126th spot in the QS Global World Rankings. I remain confident that we can break into the top 100. We have proposed the following strategies to achieve this:
・Establishing a research strategy
・Formulating a human resources strategy for individuals tasked with research
・Building a research-conducive environment and securing time for research
・Expanding our international research network

Moreover, we have made improvements to international public relations to boost our reputation. As part of those efforts, Kyushu University will host the annual QS-APPLE conference in November 2019. This international conference follows the successful World Social Science Forum (WSSF) held at Kyushu University just last year, and we will again unite as an institution as we approach QS-APPLE.

Since October 2017, I have visited with people across the university to discuss how the administration and our many schools can cooperate with and assist one another. In the end, our success as a university is inextricably linked to the efforts of each and every member of our academic faculty. It is my sincere hope that every member of the Kyushu University faculty and staff does their part. I would like to take a moment to address three important traits of a university professional:

1. Thorough safety and risk management for accidents and natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons
2. Internal sharing of information from the national government and Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) with related parties
3. Knowledgeable, specialized, and technical professionalism

Kyushu University finally completed its relocation to Ito Campus in September 2018. With the Emperor’s abdication in May, this year marks the beginning of a new and important chapter in Japanese history. I have high hopes for Kyushu University as we approach this new era and I have set my sights on contributing to society and to world peace through our educational initiatives at our Ito, Ohashi, Chikushi, and Hospital campuses, which are aimed at instructing the next generation of world leaders and transmiting research findings throughout the world that have the power to transform our future.

I would like to close by wishing everyone a Happy New Year.

Chiharu Kubo
President, Kyushu University
January 1, 2019

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