Good evening, honorable President Keizo Yamaguchi of Hokkaido University, today’s keynote speakers Professor Masahiro Okumura of the Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine at Hokkaido University and Professor Sanghoon Ahn of the Department of Social Welfare at Seoul National University, and distinguished guests and faculty members!
I would like to begin by expressing my sincere gratitude to President Yamaguchi for graciously hosting the 17th Hokkaido University and Seoul National University Joint Symposium and also to the university staff for its outstanding dedication in preparing this event. I would also like to mention the continuous joint effort of the former President of Seoul National University, Prof. Yeon-Cheon Oh, without whom this symposium would not have materialized as it has today.
I believe the theme of this year’s Symposium, “University’s Role in Contribution for Developing Countries and International Cooperation” is both timely and a crucial issue at hand for Seoul National University and Hokkaido University. This year’s symposium will make us deeply ruminate on our universities’ roles as well as set a prospective path for future developments.
As globalization pervasively influences the roles of universities, universities are now challenged to reinvent themselves to being socially and globally responsible and to carry agendas that do not merely concern the individual university’s interest, but contextualize its direction with global issues for collective benefits.
Higher education institutions in Korea and Japan also face these challenges. I would like to share Seoul National University’s role in the contribution to developing countries by giving two examples.
First, since 2011, Seoul National University has organized the Asian Universities Forum (AUF), which is attended by 30 prestigious university Presidents from 16 developing countries in Asia. AUF was initiated with its hopes to act as a facilitator or bridge between developed and developing countries, reflecting the fact that education played a key role in the national development of Korea. In the first forum, the Presidents of the member universities signed a ‘Joint Declaration’ which states a commitment to continuous cooperation and collaboration in education and research. The network of higher education institutions will contribute to the advancement of scholarship and research for the benefit of Asia and all humanity.
Second, Seoul National University launched the SNU President Fellowship to provide opportunities to faculty members of major universities in developing countries of Asia in pursuing PhD degrees at Seoul National University. This was created from the recognition that the main drive for national development in Korea has been its human capital and Korea is now responsible for sharing its experiences with other developing nations. Seoul National University selects 10 promising faculty members yearly for the program. Until now, we have selected 8 faculty members from Thailand, Myanmar, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan and they are currently taking PhD courses as Seoul National University President Fellowship scholars.
Seoul National University’s role is not merely limited to its campus boundary. As a top higher education institution in Korea, Seoul National University recognizes well its social and global responsibility. We will continue to develop knowledge and make efforts for the betterment of our nation and beyond.
I hope the programs of this year’s Symposium will be nurturing for us all.
Thank you very much.