On April 23, 2018, YU media – The Observer and UBS – interviewed the YU President, Sur Gil-soo about visions and plans for our university and students.
You have been serving as President of Yeungnam University for over a year. I would like to ask your feelings on your first anniversary.
My first year a s P resident of Yeungnam University was meaningful and rewarding, but it has also been a time of heavy responsibility. The government’s half-price tuition payment policy and the falling numbers of students resulting in the reduction of the budget by more than 20 billion won, have made it difficult to manage the university. With all YU members, we have tried to improve the quality of our university by improving the educational environment for students and tightening the university budget. I believe that this effort has been a foundation for steady growth against the current rapidly changing environment and the tough situation.
You said that you would carry out student-centered management at the inauguration. What have you been trying to do for student-centered management over the past year?
I think the most important thing is to continue to strive for the fruitful satisfaction of the actual education consumers, which has been accomplished so far. Although our university has been awarded national projects and the ranking of the external evaluation has been meaningful, we have continuously made an effort to raise talented people who can feel the change. For example, we have developed the first electronic attendance application with the help of the College of Information Science and Information Technology, which enables students to check their attendance on cell phones. The expenses for operating the ‘20-year-old humanities’ lecture are being developed by Daegu Country Club President. We are doing our best to nurture humanities lectures in order to cultivate our students character. I think it is most important that Yeungnam University’s talented students, who have such a good personality, are recognized as an outstanding company in society and a society that can grow with society. I would like all faculty and students to make a greater future value at Yeungnam University. To do this, all members of the university need to put their minds together and work hard. I think it can be a university of the future and a good university, when faculty members are full of enthusiasm for the future of the students, and the students absorb the university teachings well. To this end, both students and faculty members must adhere to their respective roles and keep being innovative.
At the time of your inauguration, you spoke of the three core values of “bright educat ion, clean administration, and durable financials” as the operating principles of Yeungnam University. What has Yeungnam University changed over the past year?
We are committed to establishing a financial base for stable and sustainable university development. To this end, the universit y is establishing systems that maximize asset ut ilizat ion and budget efficiency. For example, we apply our comprehensive asset management system to campus facilities such as classrooms and laboratories to maximize the transparency and efficiency of asset management. We are working harder to expand our development fund. The growth of the development fund is not merely a financial expansion but also the investment based on the interest and affection for the university. It also has the effect of rejuvenating the willingness of university members to meet the expectations of donors. In other words, that the effect of the trilogy financial expansion, external interest and support, and the willingness of university members to develop is expected. In addition, we are spurring our efforts to find our own revenue sources. One of them is to make full use of the intellectual property of the university to contribute not only to the university’s profit generation but also to the regional economic development. Yeungnam University has transferred 57 technologies to related businesses over the past year and has paved the way for commercialization. In the future, we will actively promote technology transfer and commercialization of university-owned technology in order to enhance the high value-added local industries and contribute to making life better for the local people.
You started your term with the financial difficulties of the university. Do you think the financial difficulties of Yeungnam University are better now?
It is true that there is not one or two of the tasks that are currently in front of our university. I would like to diagnose what is the most fundamental problem in solving the financial issues of my college. The deterioration of financial affairs is equivalent to the loss of university developmental power in the age of infinite competition. We analyze the factors that caused the fiscal crisis, estimate the fiscal expenditure that is appropriate for the rigid financial income situation, and try to find ways to expand the budget. We believe that we can turn the present crisis into opportunities by reestablishing the basic principles of school operation, starting with the accurate recognition of reality and the restoration of trust with our members. As a result of our endeavors, we made no withdrawals in school budget execution in the 2017 school year. It will be a stepping stone to stabilize the financial stability of our university, and it is important to prepare ahead of time because it is expected that the conditions of the university will deteriorate due to the decrease in the school age population. This year, we will continue to make efforts to make the school finances more sound with budget cuts while implementing necessary and proper expenditures.
Th ere have been some disagreements with some members of the school, for example, the situation of integrated department administration. Do you have any specific plan for communication with members of the school?
We make occasional meetings with professors and staff. We are talking about the future of the university. We recently held a meeting with the supervisors and workers who have been working more than 5 years. Since then, I visit colleges and affiliated institutions regularly. These meetings are to listen to the voices of the field and reflect them in the university policies. I will do my best to communicate with and harmonize the university so that each member of our university can have the idea of being the owner of the university.
Finally, I would like to hear about the goal that you want to achieve this year.
Universities are suffering from unprecedented difficulties, such as declining college financial revenues due to the policy freezing tuition and the decline of the school age population. So is our university. I plan to focus on bright education, clean administration, and strong financials this year so that our university can move toward its centennial. In particular, we will do our best to help our students set up their life goals and to take a step closer to our goal of the year on our campus. American animation film director Walt Disney says that he wants to replace this year’s goal. All dreams come true. If we only have the courage to pursue them.