President's Message

On My Appointment as President

| Message by New President Shigeru Katamine |

October 15, 2008

President's portrait I am most honored to have been appointed as the new President of Nagasaki University as of October 11. I am still a newcomer to this honor and task, and need your support and cooperation. You may be sure that your help and encouragement from now on are already appreciated. Now I would like to take this opportunity to address my commitments as President.

Dr. Osamu Shimomura's award of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Exciting news was brought to us just before my inauguration; it was that our eminent senior Dr. Osamu Shimomura's won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. This marvelous news brought enormous glory to Nagasaki University and, at the same time, encouraged and motivated his junior researchers to further devote themselves to their work feeling closer to the Nobel Prize. When I recently visited the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to obtain approval for my appointment, a great many people, one after another, offered their congratulatory remarks. This assured me that the Nobel Prize conferment upon the graduate of a local university rather than someone from the University of Tokyo or Kyoto University has made a tremendous impact on educational administration. I renewed my determination to produce prime research and give outstanding scientists to the world from Nagasaki University as a research-oriented university. Nagasaki University will set up a committee to make Dr. Shimomura's great achievement known to the public, with Vice President Kenichiro Nakashima, a classmate and close friend of Dr, Shimomura, as a key member. As a first step, we will propose to honor Dr. Shimomura by making him our very first "Honorary Doctor of Nagasaki University."

Nagasaki University's present situation and challenges for the future
Five years have passed since Nagasaki University, National University Corporation was established. It is my understanding that, under the leadership of former President Hiroshi Saito, the University has made a soft landing in avoiding the transitional confusion from the old regime (national university) and has just taxied along the runway toward new progress. I think what I have to do as the second President is to accelerate speed and to start flying high toward new challenges. In order to accelerate that speed, we need to remove the extra weight still remaining from the former national university system and drastically improve the driving power with human resources at its center. And before anything else, we need to determine our explicit destination. We had better look back to where we started and consider why national universities were given corporate status in the first place. National universities were changed to independent administrative entities to grant each university wide autonomy. By being independent, universities are able to compete with each other in unique characteristics which they themselves have created and developed. I believe that becoming independent corporate entities is good and welcome news for universities, particularly local universities, if we think in a positive way that we were given this ultimate chance for making progress to any degree depending on our own efforts toward reform, unlike the old regime where the university role was determined under the Education Ministry's horizontal administrative structure, according only to the scale and location of the university. All the faculty and administrative staff must recognize the national university system has fundamentally changed through the incorporation. What is most required of us now is that we change our mentality from clinging to what was before to creating new concepts, looking toward the university's future.

What should Nagasaki University aim for?
In the 21st century, an era of a new war, characterized by the globalism triggered by America, has opened its curtain. In addition, environmental destruction and the spread of infectious diseases on a global scale are being recognized as endangering the survival of the human race. Particularly in Japan, the downfalling tendency is remarkable in all aspects of society, and politics has not even yet shown any sign of regeneration. In an age of such crisis and stagnation, universities are being questioned once again as to what duties they can fulfill as academia and what only they can do. I believe it all comes down to the creation of new values (including scientific discovery and innovation) to contribute to the world and its people and to the development of human resources for the next generation who actually put those values to practical use. I would like to present a vision for Nagasaki University, National University Corporation based on the next three key phrases.

A University where high-spirited and ambitious young people come together
What most reflects a university's activation level is the light in the eyes of young researchers and students. A university has to be a place where youngsters meet people from different walks of life, nurture their dreams and high aspirations, and work toward making their dreams come true. We must further improve our education with a curriculum and facilities to support these student ideals. More importantly, we must keep in mind that students learn from the words and deeds of their teachers, and only students who have learned under the supervision of high-spirited teachers will become creative leaders who contribute to the community, Japan, and the world. Therefore, the first principle of operating a university should not be the management of faculty and administrative staff and students. We should release teachers from miscellaneous trifles as much as possible, encourage and support their free and positive education and research activities, and endeavor to show the way to furthering development for prospective research. In order to do this, a university needs much greater flexibility and mobility than before.

Outstanding University in the world
Economic depression triggered by America's subprime loan problems has instantaneously spread throughout the world. Not only economic depression, but today's biggest concerns including energy problems, food issues, environmental destruction, and infectious diseases are happening globally, and we should be aware that these cause more serious damage in developing countries on a global basis and local regions on a domestic basis. That is why, as I said before, regional universities need to create new values to make a contribution to the world and its people and to develop the human resources of the next generation, who must make these possible. We would like to produce research rooted in the community while yet helping the world and to develop scientists and professionals with a world-view and international sense.
Establishing international research and education centers is inevitable for Nagasaki University to become an outstanding university in the world. Our two COE programs, "Global Strategic Center for Radiation Health Risk Control" and "Integrated Global Control Strategy for Tropical and Emerging Infectious Diseases", are what Nagasaki University's achievements are all about, and they have been accomplished as the result of our senior researchers' life-long efforts and attainments. Countermeasures against environmental disruption and spread of infectious diseases are the biggest global challenges in the 21st century. Our programs bear huge responsibilities and we have a duty to make great advances in our research centers for mass-dissemination of the research findings. I am aware that this is the biggest mission a university can undertake. After five years when the global COE is completed, I plan to establish a new program in the field of environmental resources and put that together with research in radiation and infectious diseases and the Center for International Collaborative Research in order to build a "World-class Health Security Center for Earth and People." If the "World-class Health Security Center for Earth and People" becomes a global research center, in the true sense, where various scientists get together from all over the world, it will be one of the largest contributions Nagasaki University can make to the world's peace and welfare (security and safety) for humankind in the 21st century
A statue of Sakamoto Ryoma, the historical figure who led Japan to transform its feudal state to a modern society, a movement called the Meiji Restoration, stands facing west in the Kazagashira Park overlooking Nagasaki Harbor. I have been telling people that Nagasaki University should look west toward Asia, Africa, and Europe, not east where the University of Tokyo reigns. Fortunately, our overseas research and field activities, mainly studies on tropical, infectious, and radiation medicine, have received high evaluation from home and abroad. We will further improve and extend overseas centers in Vietnam, Kenya, and Belarus as well as advance our distinctive education system in international cooperation, including master's degree programs in tropical medicine and in international health development, to take leadership in Japan's international contributions.

Regional university with distinguishing characteristics
Regional contribution is a significant role which regional universities bear. We will educate prominent personnel capable of supporting the basis for community medicine, education, government, industry, and economy and for a contribution to the development of the community by returning research results that are rooted in the community. However, I believe that a university's real duty is to give back to society its achievements in high-quality education and research, and that it can make a regional contribution only by doing so, not aiming at regional contribution as such from the very beginning. It has been some time since the decentralization was first discussed, but in reality nothing particular has yet been accomplished due to economic and political hindrances. I think academia should assume a vital role in taking a lead in decentralization. Therefore, regional universities should make available wide dissemination of world-influencing research, transmitting it in such a way that society recognizes and accepts regional diversity.

In conclusion
Once again, I am committed to creating a university filled with intellectually curious students. We must fully recognize that Nagasaki University is in the most fortunate position of enjoying the benefits of national cooperation and positive thinking which means that consistent innovation efforts are indispensible for making the best use of these merits.
The President's office is always open. I would be grateful if you could provide me with your opinions in person or by e-mail. Suggestions, rebukes, or encouragements, anything would be much welcomed, as long as the comments are forward-looking. @

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