President of Konkuk University
The newly elected President of Konkuk University, Professor Jeon Young-jae, started his Presidency on September 1. As a person who spent over 30 years in KU, from a student to Professor, the President promised to improve KU to become a better university through his policies of establishing a Global Cyber University, a Company-associated Industry-University Cluster, and a Green New Deal Center. To have a better understanding of the policies and his thoughts, the KU Media Center has interviewed President Jeon Young-jae.
How do you feel about becoming the 21st President of Konkuk University?
I would like to thank all the members of Konkuk for allowing me the position of President. Konkuk University is a prestigious university that has been a presence in the history of Korea, and at the same time a companion throughout my life. I had the honor of studying as a student and teaching as a professor for over 30 years. I will do my best to return the love I have received to the place that has been the cornerstone of my life.
What made you decide to run for President?
KU has always been evaluated as a university with the most potential for further improvement. However, it has been unable to show its full performance as a prestigious university. Therefore, I decided to run for President and complete the pieces KU was lacking to become a prestigious institute of education.
What is your plan on organizing the Global Cyber University? How will it be different from the platforms of other universities?
In the vast shift of technology caused by the 4th industrial revolution, and with the crisis of COVID-19, I have concluded that the existence of KU will be jeopardized if it does not go through an innovative change in education methods. However, crisis also represents opportunity. The Global Cyber University will be focusing on the strength of our university such as fields of design, media communication, contents, business administration, cosmetics, and so on. Education contents utilizing realistic media based on AI, VR, and AR1) will also be a distinguishing feature of our platform. In addition, education will be provided to any students with potential. Students from “New Southern Countries” (Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and so on), “New Northern Countries” (Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and so on), and of course students from any other countries, will be able to participate.
How will the establishment of the Industry-University Cluster and Green New Deal Center be carried out?
A variety of companies in the fields of biology, medicine, green, IT, and content will participate in the Industry-University associated Cluster. The cluster will also cooperate with government-funded institutes along with the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Gwangjin-gu Office. With such participation and cooperation, the cluster will develop into an organization where future converging technology is educated and researched while solutions for social problems are also proposed. Students will be able to participate as interns at the companies and will also be able to start businesses.
Green New Deal and Digital New Deal are job-making policies of our government to revitalize the economy and accelerate industrial development. The Green New Deal Center will support our students to actively participate in the businesses that stem from those policies.
The Industry-University Cluster and Green New Deal Center will create specialized fields in KU. In the future, a talented person will be fostered in the process of being educated in the diverse fields of converging technology, and in the process of developing problem-solving abilities while participating in projects. KU students will grow while receiving the educations the local society requires to solve diverse problems.
Some students majoring in the fields of humanities and social science worry that your policies might exclude them. What plans do you have for them?
The President does not work for a certain major or affiliation and should think of everyone in the university. I will become a President who values this basic rule and abide by it. In that point of view, thinking that the policies I have presented exclude majors outside the fields of natural sciences and engineering is a big misunderstanding.
My policies are essentially providing convergence education to help students become a person with creative talents. It will be absurd to focus only on technology or natural science in a curriculum that aims to solve the problems of the local and global society. Everyone knows that expertise in the fields of humanities as well as social science is very important in solving social problems. The 4th industrial revolution does not just affect the fields of natural sciences and engineering. Students majoring in other fields will also receive education to adapt to the new paradigm and bask in the benefits of technological development. Students, regardless of their major, will be able to participate in the Green New Deal and Digital New Deal projects. They will never be excluded or discriminated against.
My aim of education is to solidify the foundation of knowledge through education on basic subjects and liberal arts and to strengthen education on one’s major. Also, in order to help students adapt to the incoming wave of change, I am attempting to strengthen convergence education. KU will do its best to support students adapt the new trend.
What are your plans to secure the finances needed for the policies previously mentioned? Also, how will those finances practically help students and university members?
Global Cyber University will be utilized as a method to promote education commercialization. Foreign students will enroll in the cyber university and receive education without having to live in Korea. This will in turn promote the commercialization of education.
Government-funded projects will be an opportunity for research members of our university to get scholarships. This in turn becomes a profit for the university. Through participation in the Green New Deal and the Industry-University associated Cluster projects, KU students will be given the opportunity for an internship as well as employment and educations for founding businesses. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to participate in the “Business Starting Alumni Network” project and get support from the “Konkuk One Club”, which is an organization consisting of our alumni that supports new businesses.
You have mentioned “Communication and Harmony” as an essential requirement for the future of KU. What plans do you have on ensuring those requirements?
I think communication and harmony is the prior requirements to be solved. For satisfying communications and harmony among university members to be possible, decisions and policies will be made through discussions based on mutual respect.
How do you evaluate the measures KU took to handle COVID-19 and how do you plan to handle future confusions?
Earlier this year when COVID-19 started spreading, the acting President and other directors of related departments quickly established a Countermeasure Headquarter (HQ) and a Situation Room (SR). The HQ and SR checked campus situations every day and swiftly made decisions regarding problems caused by COVID-19. Also, by unifying all the reports regarding COVID-19 to the SR, KU was able to provide an information desk for the students and their families. I also know that there was a close connection with the KU hospital and the Gwangjin-gu Public Health Center for a prompt COVID-19 checkup.
In addition to this, KU continuously notified and informed its stance on issues through the university’s website, SNS, and offline letters to all school members. KU also had regular gatherings and discussed issues regarding academic affairs to listen to students’ opinions and to reflect them on COIVD-19 countermeasures.
Also, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the second semester2) due to the active application of the government’s social distancing policy. The HQ is also planning to cope with COVID-19 according to the “Manual on countermeasures when a confirmed COVID-19 case occurs” prepared in advance and supplement the shortcomings of the countermeasures in the first semester. KU will do its best to handle every problem as quickly and flexibly as possible in order to make a safe campus.
Based on your experiences working as a senior manager and a business manager, what kind of traits do companies currently value now, and how do you think the value will change in the future?
Companies are seeking people who are capable of flexible thoughts and reasonable judgments with mutual respect and cooperation in the community rather than someone simply from a good university or someone who simply has some expertise. I think the focus will change to people with the understanding of methods that are used to cope with an uncertain future.
How would you like to be remembered as a President after your four years of Presidency ends?
I would like to be remembered as a President that positioned Konkuk University as a university that leads the future, and as a President that continuously communicated with its members with the spirit of cooperation to fully develop the potential Konkuk University has.
1) Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality respectively
2) The interview was conducted on October 6th, when there were yet no confirmed COVID-19 cases in KU.
Choi Eun-jun, Editor email@example.com
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