I would hereby like to wish everybody a very happy New Year and say a few words about the coming year 2014.
We had relatively warm and gentle weather this year and I hope you all had a chance to enjoy the New Year holidays in good health with your friends and families.
2014 is the year of the Horse, which is right in the middle of the 12 Oriental Zodiac signs, perhaps comparable to the noon hour of the day. At noon the sun is at its highest point, announcing change. Perhaps that is what we may expect from this new year: changes both for Japan and for our university.
2014 will be the 3rd year of the 2nd mid-term plan of our university that covers a total of 6 years. Having completed the period of planning and preparation, we will now be concentrating on implementation and development. Many of you may already know the three key strategic points of the mid-term plan:
・ Development of education and research in the urban studies field and playing an active role as think-tank
・ Educating students to become members of society with a high level of expertise
・ Increasing our international strength
As for the first strategic point, development of education and research in the urban studies field, in June last year we opened the Research Center for Artificial Photosynthesis and in July the Center for Health Science Innovation, located in Grand Front Osaka. In April of this year we will establish a center for preventive medicine and screening on the 21st floor of the ABENO HARUKAS building. The center will be named ‘Osaka City University Hospital Advanced Medical Center for Preventive Medicine MedCity 21’(tentative). It will focus on the early detection and early treatment of five major life-style diseases, as well as facilitate education and research & development to support advanced medicine.
Additionally, all our graduate schools have been putting energy in research on disaster prevention, providing a multidisciplinary look at the subject from different angles. We have concluded collaboration agreements with Suminoe, Sumiyoshi and Nishinari Wards, carried out field work and published two books on the subject. Based on this research we are expecting further results for our educational and think-tank activities.
Regarding the second strategic point, educating students to become members of society with a high level of expertise, of course every faculty and graduate school endeavors to educate its students to become experts in their field. Through programs such as the ‘Program for Leading Graduate Schools’, ‘Strategic Young Researcher Overseas Visits Program for Accelerating Brain Circulation’, ‘Tenure Track Young Talent Development’ and ‘Women Researchers Research Activities Support’ we have been working on the development of young talent.
As for the third strategic point, increasing our international strength, the International Strategy Office has been implementing the first action plan for 3 years now, starting in 2011. We strengthened cooperation with overseas universities, increased the exchange of students and researchers and established the new ‘Global Communication’ course. The second action plan is currently being prepared.
In this way, the goals of our mid-term plan are all being realized on schedule, thanks to the understanding and effort of you all, for which we are grateful.
From June 2012 onwards discussions involving all stakeholders have been ongoing to create a new university for Osaka, integrating Osaka City University and Osaka Prefecture University. The discussions have resulted in the ‘New University Proposal’ announced in October of last year. The proposal presents the ‘Osaka model’ for public universities, and aims to build a new university that will make full use of the history, strengths and potential of both universities, in order to optimize the educational and research facilities for our students. We will continue our discussions with Osaka Prefecture University to realize this new university.
Another important task for our university this year is governance reform, in response to the changing needs of society and government in a globalizing world. Last year we set up the Office for University Reform and have been preparing a reform plan with special attention to governance reform, in consideration of the fact that reform is not a goal in itself, but should improve the educational and research environment for our students.
Last year we also saw the opening of the new East exit of Sugimotocho station, connecting the station directly to our campus. In March 2015 the new building of the Faculty of Science will be finished while the zelkova-lined road in front of the new building will already be ready at the end of this month. In April we also plan to open a rooftop garden on top of the Media Center for our students to enjoy.
In March of this year my first term as president of Osaka City University will finish. I feel that together with everybody’s cooperation and support we achieved a lot in these four years and would like to thank you all sincerely for your cooperation.
The selection process for the next term is now taking place. Several concrete facets of the integration with Osaka Prefecture University need to be further examined. In this new year we have to shape our university in a way that reflects its traditions, history and achievements.
I hope that through earnest discussions and consultations it can become a fruitful year for us all and wish everyone a successful year in good health.
6 January 2014