Inaugural Address by 8th President Moo Hwan Kim
Honorable Chairman Jeong-Woo Choi!
With the Mace that you have passed onto me raised in front, I vow to lead POSTECH with great responsibility. Thank you.
My beloved members of POSTECH and distinguished guests! I would like to extend my deepest gratitude and welcome your presence here today.
Today, after joining POSTECH 32 years ago, when it had just opened as Korea’s first research university, I take my first step as its eighth president before you. It is my utmost honor and joy that I stand here, as a witness to both POSTECH’s birth and growth. On another hand, I am burdened as I undertake the great duty of presidency at a time when POSTECH is asked to play an increasingly significant role as Korea’s leading university.
POSTECH was established during a period when Korea was still chasing after advanced technologies of developed nations. It was built upon blood, sweat and tears of POSCO employees and with keen insight of the founding chairman Tae-Joon Park who believed that, “Korea needed a university that can take the lead in global science and technology.” Since it was founded by facing Korea’s realities and looking far into the future, POSTECH’s founding tenets also reflect the mandate of heaven to ultimately serve the nation and humanity through education and research.
The POSTECH that I have been part of until now has been a university that constantly leads change and innovation in higher education. In education, we boldly introduced an advanced system that only a small elite university can implement and nurtured young talent essential to society. In research, we led technological innovation demanded by the times with superb research results.
As a result, POSTECH has grown into a representative university in Korea and Asia in a short time despite its brief history and the disadvantages of being located in a non-English speaking country and a non-capital city. Universities and academic circles around the world take notice of the development of “small but strong university” POSTECH and applaud the excellence in education and research that has fueled growth.
Here I want to emphasize that the true strength of POSTECH lies in the power of “together.” A university cannot grow on a mere vision, leadership skills of a few, or outstanding accomplishments alone. All of this was possible in about 30 years because all members of the university, POSCO, the local and central governments and everyone who loves POSTECH joined together under the goal of advancing POSTECH into a world-class research university that will light the future of Korea.
However, if we look back at our university now, it is no exaggeration to say that we are facing a crisis. It is hard to assert that education and research conditions that were once considered POSTECH’s strengths are now any different from other universities. Moreover, Futurist Thomas Frey has even stated, “By 2030, over half of traditional colleges will disappear due to rapid development of artificial intelligence and digital technology.”
How can we overcome this crisis?
I found my answer in the Chinese characters used in the Korean word “crisis” (in Korean, 위기). The first character in crisis, “위,” means danger. However, the second character, “기,” originally comes from an image of a weaving machine. Since the heddle that is used to weave the cloth could make or break the cloth, it came to have the meaning of “opportunity” also.
In other words, a crisis is a dangerous turning point and an opportunity. I am convinced that if we bring our sense of urgency and gather our strengths to conquer this together, it can lead to extraordinary opportunities. This is because we have already demonstrated the “power of together” through the growth of POSTECH.
To this end, I would like to share with you the tasks we will be pursuing. What I would like to express ahead of time is that POSTECH’s growth has been based on the exceptional policies of the former presidents. We will maintain those well-performing policies in place so that they can take root in a meaningful manner and will ensure that the new policies we propose are aligned with the existing ones.
First is educational innovation that students demand.
The development of communication technology has resulted in an innovative educational tool called MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), which allows students to freely take classes fit to each learner’s needs. With just a computer or a smartphone, one is able to take a class taught by world-class scholars at any time necessary. If universities continue to ignore these changes and provide one-sided, closed education, they will inevitably face a crisis. The observation that colleges will disappear due to development of digital technology is also based on this idea.
Therefore, what POSTECH must aspire to in the future should be education centered on students and needed by students
The competencies required for future talent who will become leaders of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are problem-solving skills based on creativity, the ability to derive alternatives by combining the values of diversity, and the ability to cooperate and communicate with machines. Our university will provide a converged educational program that develops these three capabilities.
In addition, moral values will become even more crucial in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is centered on digital technology. Together with the Division of Humanities & Social Sciences, we will instill ethics and values that our future leaders need.
Second is research innovation that the industry and the future requires.
An important basis for what made today’s POSTECH possible was education and outstanding research. However, POSTECH should now move to the pioneering position in the fields of Fourth Industrial Revolution and in areas that can tangibly contribute to people’s lives and economic development of Korea, such as renewable energy, climate change and the environment.
In the areas where industries require POSTECH, POSTECH will conduct Open Innovation research that links industry and research sites. We will equip our university with a groundbreaking industry-academic cooperation support system, which researchers can actively engage in. We will build trust that industries can create greater value and new markets through research with POSTECH.
In addition, basic science is not only the foundation for all science and technology fields, but also a vital domain that brings about academic progress. Although our university has maintained excellence with the IBS Campus Research Group, we will initiate and nurture the POSTECH Flagship Project to carry out more influential research. We will launch support programs and platforms enabling long-term development of global research group that are expected to impact the future of humanity.
Last task is university management innovation that today’s POSTECH demands.
POSTECH is a small elite university by birth and is an institution that can innovate stronger and faster than others. This is because the university can clearly share the direction it wants to go and quickly adapt and nimbly respond to any situation.
So what can innovation be defined as? Innovation is unattainable by just a few towing the group on one side. Rather, it is the result obtained when all members connect with the direction of the organization and with ownership, make proactive efforts to detect and improve the status quo. Therefore, the development of each member and unit through “self-management” is the starting point to reach the objectives of the university.
Self-management is one of POSCO’s business philosophies that led to its success, in which the group on site resolves an issue and applies improvements first. This approach not only allows for promptly addressing the challenges at hand, but also empowers the organization to consolidate as a whole.
In the future, POSTECH’s innovation will be one that is self-managed in that each unit, such as an academic department, a professional graduate school or an administrative department, plans and executes on its own. As for me, instead of leading in front, I will be a president much like a coxswain of the boat, reading the wind and the tide ahead for my crew, steering when each unit makes a spurt.
We should not neglect diversity in this process. Every unit has its unique stance and circumstance. Accepting this and tolerating each other is a prerequisite for innovation.
Vines of arrowroot and wisteria move forward by winding onto something; the arrowroot winds only leftwards and wisteria rightwards. Planting these two together will entangle them and prevent each other from growing. The word derived from this phenomenon is ‘conflict.’ Simply insisting contradictory views or interests will only get us entrapped and deter us from moving forward. Let us create a communication channel so that our members can understand and respect one another, breakthrough conflicts and find ways to thrive together. And on our path onward, if we make progress or mistakes, let us share them and make our university one where everyone can engage with excitement.
Officials from Gyeongsangbuk-do Province and Pohang City!
POSTECH is a representative university in Gyeongsangbuk-do and Pohang. We will actively lead the city by standing in the center of regional development so that citizens of our region can lead more enriched lives. I cordially ask that both Gyeongsangbuk-do and Pohang also lend generous support in order for POSTECH to take on a more prominent role.
Honored guests and POSTECH members!
Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, has said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Like Ford’s words, POSTECH’s greatest strength lies in the ‘power of together.’ As it has been so far, I believe the new chapter of POSTECH’s history, which opens today, is expected to return brilliant results when all who are present here, including honored guests, local and central governments and industry all come together under one accord. POSTECH will also strive to innovate to make your future more hopeful and advance with you.
Let us all work together toward the higher calling to achieve our founding tenets. Let us work together to make POSTECH the pride of our nation, worthy of respect and esteem.
Dear members of faculty, who are devoted to teaching and research day and night,
Dear students who daily walk their path to scholarship,
Dear administrative staff, who devote their heart and soul into the operation of the university,
All of you are making POSTECH’s history, present and future. I would like to take this time to thank you again.
In addition, I would like to thank those who work behind the scenes to support educational and research activities on campus, including cafeteria workers, cleaning crew and campus police. Your dedication is one of POSTECH’s pillars.
Lastly, I would like to convey my sincere appreciation to Chairman Jeong-Woo Choi and all former presidents who have steered POSTECH in an auspicious direction.
September 3, 2019
8th President of POSTECH
Moo Hwan Kim