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New year's Greetings for 2019 2019.01.02

The New Year of 2019 has dawned upon us. It is my sincere hope that the new sun rising from the East Sea brings hope and warmth to all members of the Yonsei family.

This previous year was challenging for all of us. The continuous tuition freeze, abolished admission fees, and steep increase of minimum wages collectively presented a financial burden for all universities in Korea. I would like to take this opportunity to express my respect and gratitude to the faculty and staff members who remained dedicated to their duties in the midst of these difficult times.

Nonetheless, the support and encouragement we receive from the Yonsei community and alumni give us strength in times of trouble. Thanks to this support, Yonsei University succeeded in winning the Yon-Ko Games for the second consecutive year. However, far more meaningful than this victory was the fact that the number of Yonsei students cheering at the games far outnumbered our rival university. I believe that our students were able to experience deep pride in their university and fellowship within the Yonsei community through the games.

Over the past five years, many alumni have expressed their concern regarding Yonsei’s standings in university rankings. Our efforts during the past three years have resulted in our university rising 140 places in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. Nonetheless, we must admit that our standings still have room for improvement when compared with our peer institutions. The single most influential factor in determining rankings is research, and yet research is assessed with the accumulation of publications produced over the previous five years. Thus, there are limits to how much we can improve in a short amount of time. As Yonsei University remains fully committed to strengthening our research capacity and our faculty increasingly dedicated to preserving our university reputation, we expect more promising news of progress in the near future.

Respected members of the Yonsei community,

As important as university sports and rankings may be, the true qualities of Yonsei University are most visible in the bigger picture we envision for the future of the university. Since the beginning of my term as President, I had presented my aim to alter the direction of Yonsei’s path towards the future and had made efforts to change the content and method of the university’s research, teaching, and social contributions over the past three years.

Several policies were revised to enable researchers to conduct research more effectively and prolifically. Yonsei University amended standards for faculty evaluation to prioritize quality over quantity and incentivize exceptional research performance, resulting in an increase of influential papers and a decrease of low-quality publications. Research funding for newly hired professors was increased to 150 million won in engineering and sciences, and 30 million won for the arts and humanities. Year-round hiring for talented professors helped Yonsei University acquire faculty members rated within the top 5% of their fields. The successful hirings of recent years were also due to changes that allowed the job openings within a department to be extended until appropriately filled, rather than expire prematurely. Furthermore, policies were revised so that one semester can be devoted to research every three years instead of one sabbatical year after every six years of service. The process of approving research funds has been greatly simplified with the impractical record of receipts being abolished, making a significant impact that has other universities taking note.

The Institute for Convergence Research and Education in Advanced Technology (I_CREATE) was established as the first phase in building the Yonsei Science Park at the Yonsei International Campus in Songdo, Incheon. In addition, the establishment of the Yonsei SL Biopharma Institute (YSLI) is the cornerstone of Yonsei University’s forthcoming bio and pharmaceutical research complex, while the research-focused Songdo Severance Hospital will be opened by the year 2024. Within this year, we will open a Bio Convergence Research Center and launch a new model of interdisciplinary research and educational programs. With the Yonsei Frontier Lab continuing to support one-stop administrative services for international research, we hope that increased use of such resources will result in commensurate development of our research capabilities. With the establishment of the first commercial 5G networks in the world, our colleges of engineering, music, life sciences, medicine, and dentistry have commenced research using 5G test beds in collaboration with KT. Yonsei University will continue leading innovation in higher education by implementing realistic media such as VR, MR, and Hololens as part of its innovative curriculum. Since the announcement of our open campus with POSTECH, 70 professors at POSTECH have been appointed to adjunct positions and five joint research teams are currently in operation.

Beloved Yonseians,

Education at Yonsei is transforming – changing from competition into cooperation, and transcending the walls of the traditional classroom to promote collaborative learning and teaching as well as provide a holistic educational experience. This year, our university will expand the autonomy and discretion of professors in evaluating their students’ academic performance by implementing an absolute evaluation system and shifting educational directionality away from competition and towards constructive problem-solving. In 2018, Yonsei opened 88 courses on social problem-solving and 35 courses on start-ups, which respectively provided 4,000 and 1,500 students with hands-on experience in taking on real-world issues.

Yonsei University’s attempts to encourage social innovation reaches beyond the walls of the classroom. We will further expand our One Team, One Task (OT2) project, which provides experience in solving social problems, and have launched our Change Agent program which serves as a liaison for community service student clubs. Yonsei also held a Volunteer Forum (V-Forum) to help achieve the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. More than 50 start-up student clubs are operating with the support of the Institute for Higher Education Innovation at Yonsei University. The Towners at Workstation public enterprise expects to expand its engagement with over 100 participating teams this year. In addition, Yonsei University Health System continues to invite medical students from medically underserved countries and provides them with the support they need to grow into professorial candidates.

As a result of these various initiatives, Yonsei University has been named by monthly newspaper Le Monde diplomatique and the Korea Corporate Social Responsibility Institute as the most socially responsible private Korean university for two consecutive years since 2017, thus establishing its leading position in the era of social awareness. Severance Hospital also placed first in the National Customer Satisfaction Index (NCSI) for the 8th consecutive year and also number one among general hospitals in the Korean Consumer Wellbeing Index for the 12th year in a row, demonstrating its ongoing commitment to carrying out the mission of Christian love.

Every year, numerous international organizations reach out to collaborate with Yonsei University during the annual Global Engagement & Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development (GEEF) hosted by the Institute of Global Engagement & Empowerment every February. For GEEF 2019 next month, Yonsei will host world-renowned organizations including the United Nations, World Bank, World Health Organization, and the United Nations Population Fund to discuss various topics under the theme, "A Call to Action: Empower People, Share Prosperity.” During the forum, a sustainable cites research network of 12 universities led by Yonsei University - including Stanford University, Tsinghua University, University of Copenhagen, University of Tokyo, and the National University of Singapore - will also discuss theories and action plans for the development of future cities.

Dear Yonseians,

Our strides forward will continue throughout the year 2019. We will advance down our chosen path in the midst of emerging challenges and obstacles. First, we will dedicate our efforts to succeed in the Round Four competition of the Brain Korea (BK) 21 project next year. Construction of Yongin Hospital - to be built in Dongbaek, Yongin - is well underway with the goal of opening in February 2020, while steady progress is being made on Qingdao Severance Hospital planned to open in the second half of 2021.

Wonju Campus, which has been evaluated as a capacity-building college, is making the most of this opportunity to gain a competitive edge by producing innovative plans through outside consulting. Yonsei University will continue to move towards our long-term vision of a “One University, Multi-campus,” and we must remember that straying from the greater path for short-term wins will only invite even more serious crisis. History teaches us that no organization can persevere without overcoming such conflicts of interest. We will, and must, succeed in innovating and transforming the Wonju Campus.

The road ahead of us is full of plans and responsibilities and thus we expect this year will be a busy one. It will not be an easy process but I believe that there is nothing we cannot accomplish as one community. I sincerely ask for your continued support.

May the grace of God be with you and your families throughout the year.

Happy New Year.