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2023 New Year's Address 2023.01.02

2023 New Year’s Address

Dearest Yonsei family:

The new light of 2023 shines upon us. I wish for the Lord’s blessing and all health and happiness for your families. In the lunar calendar, this is the Year of the Black Rabbit, which signifies growth and prosperity. Furthermore, the Roman god who takes charge of the new year in the solar calendar is Janus. Depicted as “the only being able to see his own back” because of his two faces, he overlooks both the past and the future. I am confident that our future, born of a grand past, promises growth and prosperity as symbolized by the rabbit.

We saw tremendous achievements in the past year through the joint efforts of all Yonsei members, and we have many events for which to give thanks and celebrate. To begin with, Yonsei has set new records in various college rankings, rising to 73rd in the QS (the most prestigious world university ranking) and 78th in the Times Higher Education ranking, the highest among all private universities in Asia. In the evaluation of 10 academic fields, Yonsei ranked first in psychology; business and economics; clinical and health; and the social sciences. Thus, we hold the most first-place rankings in the domestic universities category and claim the top spot among private schools according to domestic assessments. We came in second overall, with only a hair’s breadth between Yonsei and first place. I attribute this brilliant feat to the hard work of all Yonsei members, who have devoted themselves to the accomplishment of our shared vision despite the obstacles of COVID-19.

While others were lying low due to the pandemic, Yonsei established Korea’s first online university education platform, LearnUs, a pioneering, innovative medium of knowledge distribution in higher education that celebrated its first anniversary last year. Within the span of a single year, LearnUs has enrolled 23,000 individual members and produced 4,000 outstanding video lectures, initiating a transition in the educational paradigm of today’s trans-global, hyper-connected society. In total, around 30 universities participate in the Online Joint-Lecture Network we have built as the presiding institution. If we increase the number of participating schools to 50 this year and reach out to overseas universities, LearnUs has the potential to evolve into an online lecture platform on the level of EdX and Coursera.

Esteemed Yonsei family:

A university’s mission embraces education, research, and community service in equal measure, but research is the foundation on which it rests. Recognizing this, we have completely reformed and expanded our support system for researchers, which has resulted in a dynamic increase of over 200% in our Field-Weighted Citation Impact score in the past three years, and the sum of research revenue now exceeds 500 billion won. Last year, we signed a contract with IBM to import the 127-cubit quantum computer in the first half of 2024, making South Korea the fifth nation to possess a quantum computer after the US, Germany, Japan and Canada. The presence of this superior quantum computing technology at our very own International Campus will give Yonsei a competitive edge in research development. Offering a myriad of possibilities for practical application, this acquisition of quantum computing technology will catalyze Yonsei’s efforts to advance its research environment.

Our Health Center has also filled the past year with meaningful innovations in clinical research. In recognition, the International Hospital Federation, which represents around 20,000 hospitals worldwide, has nominated our Severance Hospital for the honor of best institution. Severance’s particle therapy, which is to be launched this year, will be remembered as a historic leap forward in the conquest of cancer. Moreover, we have obtained a site next to the Avison Research Center for the construction of a 20-acre medical school and have established the Medical College Construction Committee to promote this plan. In other words, the medical department’s 10-year dream has now come true. Likewise, the dental school’s space problem has been addressed by incorporating it into the university’s master plan.

Last year, we held a groundbreaking ceremony at our International Campus for the 800-bed capacity Songdo Severance Hospital, which is expected to be completed by 2026. To ensure Songdo Severance’s success, Yonsei will closely collaborate with the City of Incheon and provide every possible means of support, including financing. A biolab hub business with a value of 280 billion won has been approved for our International Campus, joining several bio-related projects, such as the original K-NIBRT and the vaccine utilization center. Thus, our International Campus has laid a solid foundation for becoming a viable bio cluster with a good balance between industry, hospital, university, and research and development.

We also heard good news from the Mirae Campus, which secured a mega-sized convergence research project in the digital healthcare sector amounting to 50 trillion won over five years. This is the golden fruit reaped by the research personnel at the Mirae Campus, who have worked in unison in areas such as digital healthcare, carbon neutrality, amalgamative treatment for dementia, and many more. Additionally, the campus founded the Yonsei Art Academy, embracing cinematography, musicals, applied music, content education for the popular arts, design, production, and management. Established last year, Yonsei Art Academy will lead the future’s art industry as Korea’s best creative cluster for the popular arts.

Loving Yonsei family:

Fundraising has also reached a turning point. In November 2021, we formed the Yonsei Development Committee in close cooperation with the Alumni Association. Our three major targets were investment in research personnel and infrastructure, innovation in educational content and media, and resolving societal problems on the basis of Christian principles. With these aims, Yonsei squared its shoulders for a great challenge. Fifty members of the Development Committee, including four chairpersons, have secured more than 60 trillion won in the past year alone. This is the glorious outcome of each and every person uniting efforts in a completely novel fashion to achieve a shared vision.

Although we have achieved much in the past year, such as the impressive rise in the global college evaluations, I see these accomplishments as the normalization of an exceptional situation that has persisted for a long time. The goal of this great challenge is to join the highest ranks of the world’s best universities. Of course, there are many standards to determine that status, but, in terms of the World University Rankings, it denotes standing among the top 30. Is this an attainable goal? Yes, it is attainable in the near future, if all Yonsei members equally share the dream and combine our potentials. It is a vision that simply must be attained, but we must plan meticulously and invest efficiently if we wish to realize it.

I believe that beginning promptly better promotes achieving the objective. Hence, 2023 must be a starting point for Yonsei. We must unite our capabilities to meet this grand challenge, and we will begin with Project Y. The creation of the Institute for Project Y (IPY), which will generalize the school’s outstanding transdisciplinary research, will strengthen Yonsei’s research capacity in that area. For the successful establishment of the institute, I will assume the role of research director for the time being, fully mobilizing all sources of administrative and financial assistance.

The IPY will act as an umbrella institution, backing any transdisciplinary research that shows promise in fields such as medicine, life sciences, engineering, Artificial Intelligence, big data, the social sciences, and the humanities, all converging in the application of quantum computing. Each project will get an IPY-affiliated center, and, when their research is completed, the centers will compete to determine whether they will continue. Financial support will be largely based on funds, and a research space of at least 16 acres will be required to accommodate the IPY in the long term. Additionally, a thorough appraisal system must be adopted to assess sponsorship policies in terms of their effectiveness.

Beloved, revered Yonsei family:

In his epic poem Metamorphoses, the Roman poet Ovid offers a goal for the new period: super astra, which means “higher than the stars.” I feel that this well expresses the grand challenge facing all us Yonsei members in this hopeful new year of 2023. Another poet, Yoon Dongju, declares, “I have searched for / the new day of tomorrow / yet I realize after sleep / that the new day is not tomorrow / but today” (in his poem “There Is no Tomorrow”). Today is yesterday’s tomorrow. Our race for the title of the world’s best university should begin today, not tomorrow. Envisioning the future of Yonsei as far more radiant than the stars, I wish you Godspeed. May the Lord guide you through this new year with pillars of cloud and of fire, day and night. Thank you.

January 1st, 2023

President Seoung Hwan Suh.