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Interview With President of CNU, Jung Sungtaek

기사승인 2021.05.21  17:36:16

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- “My Vision Is to Make a Proud and Free CNU”

   
▲ President of CNU, Jung Sungtaek

   Chonnam National University (CNU) welcomed its 21st president, Jung Sungtaek in February 2021. He has expressed a strong conviction in continuing to pursue CNU’s potential and capabilities in spite of the world’s current hardships. The Chonnam Tribune had the opportunity to interview our president and ask him about his future goals and aspirations for our university.

We heard that you walked to work along the Democracy Road on your first day in office. Does the Democracy Road’s name which carries ‘Democracy, Human Rights, Justice’ have a special meaning to you as the 21st president of CNU?

Democracy Road is a place that fills me with thoughts such as “What should universities do in this era?” and “How should universities prepare to raise students who will walk through this gate as future protagonists?” I also think of it as a way to symbolically walk together with all university members.

In an interview at the time of the presidential election last year, it was impressive for you to say, "I want to make it the greatest pride to be called a man of Chonnam National University." Could you explain your vision of a 'Proud and Free CNU’?

It is my hope that our students will become creative talents with the expertise needed in this era, based on the history and rich academic soil of our university. I want our students to converge into talented people who can think by crossing academic boundaries, as well as inclusive people who can embrace new values and diversity. I also hope that they pursue the public good, care for others, and protect the community with a clear and free soul.

National universities are burdened by problems such as a decrease in finances due to freezing tuition fees and a decreasing number of school-age students. What kind of change is our university dreaming of at a time when a paradigm shift of universities is required?

We will focus on opening up new horizons of educational innovation represented by ‘openness’ and ‘sharing’. To this end, our university will change the paradigm of high-level education by providing the learners with the nurturing and guidance they need. In addition, we aim to expand students’ choices by opening online ‘multiple degrees’ or ‘joint degrees’ with leading universities in Korea and abroad, including 15 universities in Gwangju and Jeonnam. In line with the online age, we will also increase the number of remote joint classes. As it is, we are already operating 19 subjects as joint remote classes with other national universities.

There has also been a change in the way universities teach due to COVID-19. Would you explain how the academic management method affected by COVID-19 will change the academic management of our university in the future?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, digital learning and remote education have become the inevitable new norm of education. Embracing this paradigm shift, we want to actively introduce and improve remote classes, particularly to lead change in the field of convergence of technologies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. At the same time, we strive to digitize education by establishing hybrid classrooms and continue to invest in developing shared lectures between domestic and foreign universities. In addition, we will continue to pursue the original educational value that maximizes the effectiveness of face-to-face classes.

Some international students want to get a job and settle down in Korea after graduation. Are there any policies or measures to support them on this path?

The number of international students in our university is about 1,700 across 51 countries, making ours a global campus. We are actively supporting them to find employment by providing education to strengthen employment capabilities and operating internship programs linked to local companies. Students from China, Vietnam and Uzbekistan have also been able to share employment, career counseling and job know-how in their native countries in conjunction with alumni of international students. Tutoring and mentoring is conducted for international students, and multilingual counseling is supported in relation to their degree, career, and daily life.

Could you elaborate on the university's plans and achievements to preserve the status of CNU as a research-oriented university?

Among the 400 universities across Korea, CNU is the only non-capital university to rank in the top 10 in research funds. Over the past three years, the total amount of research funds has steadily increased to approximately 153.4 billion won. Selected for leading a 'Campus Innovation Park Project,' CNU will expand the start-up support system by using it as a forward base for fostering start-ups and creating high-end jobs. As a result, our university will support the entire research cycle from the conception to completion of research items.

You have said that the development of the community and the university should advance together while sharing the talents, skills, and resources of the university with the community. Could you tell us about the progress of the 'University Town-type Urban Regeneration Project'?

The ‘University Town-type Urban Regeneration Project’ aims to share the resources owned by CNU with the local community and co-work. Our university's LINC+ Initiative, Office of International Affairs, and Graduate School of Culture cooperate to revitalize the business district of our university's main gate and back gate areas. Several programs such as ‘Living Labs’ in which local residents and organizations are working with facilitators to solve urban regeneration and regional issues, and ‘Idea Realize’ which is for realizing items related to improving residential facilities and youth start-ups are in progress. When the Center for Happiness and Harmony is completed in October, the open-space will be shared with local communties.

You have said that universities should be able to lead a natural role for all ages and future generations. What would you say your vision as a national hub is?

There are 10 national universities across the country. As a national university which has a duty to be a pillar of national development with a balanced education system, CNU is supporting the right to be educated by establishing a platform that can provide a lifetime’s worth of education from a kindergarten to every step of schooling including a lifelong education center. We have also pursued constant exploration of advances in science and technology in various fields of study. We will focus more on the discovery of new convergence studies. We are taking the lead in upgrading regional competitiveness through various projects.

Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the university's foundation. The university is drawing a ‘blueprint' that contains dreams for the next 100 years of CNU. In particular, it is planning an Education Innovation Platform centered on the Office of Future Strategy. Could you elaborate on this?

In a rapidly changing society, the university has been considering how to grab the opportunity to leap forward beyond the crisis. The Office of Future Strategy will contribute to restoring the status as a national hub by developing the university's original functions. The Education Innovation Platform will preemptively face changes and challenges in the educational environment. It will play a key role in overcoming the limitations of non-face-to-face education and responding to various educational needs and demands that meet the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Last April, after struggling for two years, the General Student Council was created. Please let us hear the president's advice or encouragement on student autonomy.

The university members will have high expectations of the launch of the 52nd General Student Council (GSC). Active participation from the students is needed. I hope that active discussions will overflow with a healthy and vibrant student culture. Our university will support student autonomy activities such as the GSC and the General Club Association. In addition, we will expand welfare as well as educational services and help the creation of student culture on campus.

Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to our university’s students?

We are living in a hyper-connected society on the back of AI and information technology. It is also an era of great change that requires a new order as COVID-19 hit the world. To lead this era, we need talented people with creativity, sensitivity and a sense of community. It is necessary for them to create freshness with scientific thinking, empathize with the world, and co-exist with neighbors. I hope our students will succeed with the history of our proud university to grow into "proud and free CNU people" who pursue truth, creativity, and serve with knowledge.

By Maja Elisabeth von Bruun, Student Editor / Park Min-ji, Editor-in-chief

Maja Elisabeth von Bruun 기자 m.vonbruun@gmail.com

<저작권자 © Chonnam Tribune 무단전재 및 재배포금지>
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