Interview with the New President: His Vision and Prioritizing Values
Interview with the New President: His Vision and Prioritizing Values
  • Reporter Jeong Ye-ji, Yim O-jung
  • 승인 2023.09.06 11:31
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▲9th President of POSTECH Seong Keun Kim interviewing with The Postech Times
▲9th President of POSTECH Seong Keun Kim interviewing with The Postech Times

   On Sept. 2023, Seong Keun Kim, the ninth President of POSTECH, took office. In commemoration of his inauguration, The Postech Times interviewed the new President.

  1) Background to Acceptance and Values to Prioritize 
  After being appointed as the President, I received a lot of congratulations, and among them, I remember the words “Create a proper university that Korea must have.” The academic attitude, in other words, the inquisitive attitude is still lacking in domestic universities. Many researchers seem to be more interested in research funds and publications. Likewise, students focus on short-term goals such as employment and credit management instead of their own intellectual growth. Of course, valuing objective indicators is an unavoidable element, but it should not be the essence. A proper university requires faculty and students to maximize and develop their character and innate intellectual capacity so that they can demonstrate their abilities in the future. Accordingly, POSTECH should mainly focus on academics. We should create a university with a lively atmosphere where all members grow intellectually and contribute to society. 

  2) Improved Communications
  We are considering various ideas to communicate with undergraduates, graduate students, and professors. What I think important is to collect various opinions in the process of promoting policies. The longer the process of thinking is, the more mature the idea would be. Therefore, when school members suggest their opinion on the completed policy, it is difficult to modify it, which may cause complaints from school members. Therefore, we would like to inform them during the drafting process and collect their opinions. To this end, I have planned letters from the President sent to professors and town hall meetings with students of POSTECH. 

  3) Facility Congestion Concerns
  As outsiders enter the university, the population density rises, and it seems to create a discomfort that is not typical of a university. I think congestion as having two sides. What if there is no congestion? Wouldn’t it be strange if there were only students at the large university and no one entered? If it is crowded, it is a sign that it is thriving. Not only POSTECH members but also outsiders who want to cooperate with the university are coming into work and communicate together. I think that factors that cause congestion are positive. We need to get used to and accept the phenomenon of congestion. I do not think there is a need to take an exclusive attitude. Of course, if there are persistent annoyances, we will certainly find appropriate solutions. 

  4) Graduate School Tuition and Countermeasures 
  I acknowledge the fact that the burden of tuition is high, and it is difficult for graduate students to live only with the living expenses they receive from school. A certain degree of inevitability; inflation, is given to the increase in graduate school tuition. However, it is important to find an appropriate point because an excessive increase can place a burden on not only graduate students but also professors since graduate students’ salaries and living expenses are paid from research funds. It is a very difficult problem, but if our university is selected as the upcoming “Glocal University”, it will be able to solve these difficulties with financial support from the government. In the long term, graduate student funding is needed. In the current state, it is true that there is no solution, and it is a hardship in which all the university, graduate students, and professors should shoulder the burden. 

  5) Support for Pacific Valley 
  In terms of entrepreneurship, POSTECH’s development is positive. Compared to other universities in Korea, POSTECH does not lack behind at all in terms of the entrepreneurship ecosystem and active startups by students is rather exemplarary. However, compared to foreign universities, there is still much to improve. For example, in the case of Boston, hospitals, university research facilities, and pharmaceutical companies are gathered locally, supplying a large amount of capital and manpower, and creating a beneficial synergy. However, it is difficult to find such cases nationwide. It will be difficult for us to imitate this scale, but we can emulate some good points with an appropriate quality of funds. While Korea’s investment capital market is mostly for short-term investments, long-term and high-quality capital is active for foreign start-ups. Since these investments are still far from the domestic market, we are planning to act as a quality investor by setting up our own fund. What matters is the nature of capital. Quality capital should come in to motivate researchers, and it should be able to help them realize profits while waiting for achievements. 

  6) Specific Off-Campus Plans
  The purpose of the policy seems excellent. Students can maintain their graduation schedule by taking lectures off- campus for various reasons such as military service or internships. Ideally, students should be able to choose their semesters, but in practice, departments specify semesters when designing their programs due to the hurdle of curriculum preparation. There is a lack of specific plans to apply good intentions to reality. We are contemplating ways to promote this without increasing the burden of lectures on professors. As an example, it seems possible to utilize online lectures that are already active, such as MOOC lectures. I hope the purpose of the system is preserved. POSTECH should become a university accessible from overseas. However, it is not desirable to delay graduation due to this. 

 7) Medical School Thoughts
  I want to be careful. It should be considered in multiple aspects. There are many advantages to establishing a medical school. The technology being developed in life science research should eventually be used for humans, and this can be applied only in a clinical hospital. Considering this, I don’t think there is much reason to oppose the establishment of a medical school. At this time, it is necessary to clearly distinguish whether it is a medical school or a graduate school, and what form of degree is to be awarded. Also, the needs of local residents and the university may be different. University researchers hope to do cutting-edge research, but local residents would want a hospital they can visit right away. We need a plan to bridge this gap. 
  This issue is not as simple as whether or not to establish a medical school. Among them, a plan that best suits POSTECH is needed, taking into consideration the needs of local residents, the hopes of researchers, and the type of program. After that, a financial plan is also needed. To sum it up, it’s a complex issue, so I don’t want to rush into a decision. It is a good plan in terms of contributing to the development of science and the welfare of human society in the future, but since serious issues remain, we will review them and be judicious. 

 8) Concerns over the decline in university indicators 
  It is never easy. I hope POSTECH could be a university that does not obsess over university rankings. However, at this point, we have to care. A two-sided approach is needed. Students must work hard to improve our ranking by developing their capabilities. Also, the entire university staff, including the President need to make efforts to publicize the evaluation agency. I hope that the worries about rankings will be left to the President other members will focus on their own work. 
  From an outside perspective, POSTECH was viewed as an enormously growing university in its early days, and its members had a pioneer spirit. POSTECH had a different DNA from other universities, but presently this spirit has weakened and it has recently been diluted with other universities. It seems that our weakened spirit is a more important issue than university rankings. 

 9) Presidential Goals
  I want to make POSTECH a university that others envy. In other words, I want to cause internal conflict in others. In the past, there were students who chose POSTECH despite its short history and shortcomings compared to universities located in Seoul. The University ranking system is a word that does not exist in other countries. There is a personal preference ranking for everyone and this is natural. However, one-sided preference is a serious issue. Everyone should have different preferences. Rather than artificially dragging other universities down, we will propose a new path for POSTECH and create elements that others will envy and want to emulate. POSTECH must be different.