Inaugural Address by 7th President Doh-Yeon Kim
It is with my heartfelt gratitude and joy that I welcome your presence here today.Today I humbly accept the honor and responsibility to lead POSTECH as its 7th president. As a top research university in science and engineering, this university is a crown jewel of our nation, and I am beyond honored and thrilled to join the POSTECH community. Yet, standing up here, I am once again reminded of the sheer gravity of the responsibility to raise POSTECH to even greater international prominence. I pledge that I will devote myself during my four year term as president to ensure that POSTECH continues to fulfill its mission and hold true to its reputation as a leading university that shepherds the advancement of Pohang and Korea. Korea’s contemporary history shows that POSTECH’s inception and advancement, just like that of our nation, was a miracle against all odds. Under the strong leadership of the much respected late founding chairman, Tae-Joon Park, Korea had moved ahead from a country living in the Stone Age to the Iron Age. Chairman Park’s vision and persistence built POSCO and molded Pohang into a world-class industrial city. Korea is the first nation in the world that has transformed itself from a struggling beneficiary into an important contributor to international development aid. The very same man gave Korea her first ever research-oriented university, POSTECH, and spread a culture of scientific research throughout the nation. Chairman Park was driven by his firm conviction and commitment to render himself to the utmost service to the nation by nurturing young talented students, whom he believed to be the key to the national advancement and flourishing. The birth of POSTECH lit a spark in Korea’s higher education and culture of scientific research, which was back then only a feeble light. POSTECH shines today as a bright beacon for the future of science and technology, emanating a far-reaching light that guides brilliant minds around the world to POSTECH for advanced education and research opportunities. Our past three decades are nothing less than a glorious history, in which we take much pride. I would like to commend each and every member of the POSTECH community for the dedication and hard work, including all of the former presidents who have made great strides for POSTECH. Indeed, many deserve my deepest respect and esteem for their contributions and support for POSTECH’s growth. In particular, I would like to express my special thanks to the past and current members of POSCO for their unwavering support since POSTECH’s foundation. We can only wonder what POSTECH would look like today without the support and backing of POSCO over the past decades.
Our principle emphasis, both as individuals and as a united body, lies on not only celebrating our history but also embracing the future. A few days ago, I encountered my comment left in the POSTECH visitors’ book from my past visit four years ago when I was chairman of the National Science and Technology Council. It says, “The future of Korea is tied to the future of POSTECH.” I truly believed, and continue to believe, in this statement. The true worth of a developed nation can be proved by the existence of outstanding universities in its thriving communities. It gives a unique mission that only POSTECH can fulfill in Korea. I urge all POSTECH members to join me in responding to challenges of our times and preparing for a new era with a deep pride in our history, a keen insight into the future, and a daring spirit of trailblazers. Two keywords that best represent today’s world are ‘change’ and ‘innovation.’ It means that the days ahead of us are charged with even more adversities and odds than what we have overcome in the passing days. As some of you may well know, the Sumerians of the ancient civilization in Mesopotamia first invented writing about five-thousand years ago, and metal movable-type started to be used in printing over a half millennium ago. It only took a half century for computers to change the world and a half decade for smartphones to turn our lives inside out and upside down. Now it only takes a quick look back on the changes we have been through just within the past five years to realize the essence of our world that is running at the speed of light. It is often said that the biggest conundrum every once-successful CEO faces on the brink of bankruptcy is to figure out what they have done so differently from the heydays for the tide to have turned. In an ever-evolving world, staying within the comfort zone of tradition and old practices means eventually falling behind. The same rule applies not only in the world of business but also in the world of higher education. As with the change of society from the age of industry to information, and now to convergence, the role and social impact of universities are following the suit.
My esteemed members of POSTECH community!
Today’s Korean society is nothing like what it was when we first opened our doors. Youth is suffering in misery in the face of the near-stagnant economic growth. It is truly unfortunate that universities, which can be a starting point of fundamental innovation and re-ignition of our growth engine, cling to the old ways. I firmly believe that POSTECH is to become a flagship university, with a more daring and open heart, to steer our nation into a new direction of higher education and research. A flagship, a leading ship in a fleet of vessels, is forced to break through the waves in the forefront; and, that very nature of a flagship makes POSTECH the best and only one capable of undertaking the duty. For our brighter future, all members of POSTECH starting with myself will welcome changes occurring outside the university with wide-open arms. Opening doors naturally brings in competition; nevertheless, competition is a vital motivation for development and innovation. Let us lower the barriers and facilitate collaboration among academic disciplines. Let us further reach out to the business sector in Pohang and establish stronger bridges for more interaction. Let us open up and build broader networks to create synergy in education and research.
According to many studies, it is projected that most college students today will have jobs ten years from now that are yet to be created. In such times, one’s educational background like the name of an institution or a major printed on one’s diploma certificate would not hold as much value as one’s true and comprehensive capabilities. I will do everything in my power to nurture our students and have them walk out of this university with unsurpassed excellence in their academic fields, noble values, intellectual curiosity, and unyielding will for challenge. It is my wish, especially, to impart to our students the profound meaning of the Chinese character for a person (人) that one supports the other in order to teach how to care for others and work together. The recent drastic development in information technology is one of the most significant revolutions in human history next to that of writing and printing. As much as we respect the traditional way of knowledge transfer in the classroom, we will not hesitate to introduce new ways in online settings. My beloved POSTECH students! Your college years is a time for intellectual and personal growth. The task of developing your life is solely in your hands, and, remember, this may be the last phase of enlarging and filling a reservoir of capacity to propel your life forward from now on. You have to dream first to make something happen. Dream high. And aim higher to make it come true. Next to education comes research. While keeping up the excellent work POSTECH has been doing, I would like to channel that excellence into more tangible results for our society. As the first research-oriented university in Korea, I would like to see POSTECH become the pride of our nation with groundbreaking discoveries in basic sciences. I wholeheartedly endorse the creation and development of joint research initiatives bringing diverse academic disciplines together. I will support these types of collaboration by boosting the mobility of human, material, and financial resources. As our founding tenets place great importance on the creation of new values in society through collaboration between the industry, academia, and research institutions, we shall always keep in mind the need to translate our research results into a concrete contribution to people’s lives. Start-ups launched by our faculty and students will be much promoted and supported while research in novel technologies that enhance business competitiveness and technological advances will be highly regarded. We will explore ways to continue and further expand our mutual growth with the local community as we maintain close cooperation with the Association of POSTECH Grown Companies (APGC), founded and run by our alumni. Third, I will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the university administration based on transparent and open management. Education and research, which are the essential gears of any university, cannot fully function without high quality administrative support. From the beginning, POSTECH was founded on a system of a Head Professor leading each department. I would like to empower the head professors to lead their departments with a long-term perspective by giving them more authority and responsibilities. I very well understand that the single most important quality expected from me as president is to take the initiatives and lead by example. The task of listening to many voices on campus and actualizing their ideas to create a POSTECH where people are happy to come to work and enjoy what they do deserves my best effort. While we all need to continuously improve skills and competency, individuals with dedication and outstanding performance will receive due credit and reward.
My respected fellow POSTECH members, Our noble aspirations today are challenged in numerous ways. As you may be well-versed in this, the Oriental classics teach us three conditions required for the prosperity and progress of a party; those are a favorable timing bestowed by Heaven, advantageous terrain of the Earth, and unity of the people. To think about it, opportunities of Heaven’s time were grasped three decades ago by our Founding Chairman Tae-Joon park. How about the advantageous terrain of the Earth? What could we ask for more when we are located in Pohang? It leaves us with the last and most important concern that is the unity of the people. As the teaching (天時不如地利, 地利不如人和) goes, “Heaven’s time is less important than Earth’s advantageous terrain, and Earth’s advantageous terrain is less important than human unity,” the unity of the people are of the utmost importance. When we trust each other and work together, POSTECH will stand in the vanguard of the world.
The Postechian spirit is a spirit of novelty to create out of nothing, a spirit of boldness to challenge conventional ideas, a spirit of public service to serve our community and nation, and a spirit of philanthropy to promote the betterment of humanity. As the president of POSTECH, I will always cherish the Postechian spirit and hold it very dear to my heart.
I would like to conclude my speech with my sincere gratitude and appreciation for Honorable Chairman Kwon, distinguished guests, and dear POSTECH community members. Thank you very much.
September 1, 2015
7th President of POSTECH