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138th Anniversary Commemorative Address 2023.05.15

138th Anniversary Commemorative Address 

Seoung Hwan Suh

President, Yonsei University

Dear friends and family of Yonsei University,

Welcome to the celebration of our 138th anniversary. I would like to extend my gratitude to all of our honorable guests who have come to congratulate us, and to all friends and family of Yonsei who have joined us here today. I offer my special thanks to Chairman of the Board Hur Dong-soo of the Education Foundation, Yonsei University, and to President Kyung-sun Yu of the Yonsei Alumni Association for honoring us with their presence. Our school was founded 138 years ago, upon the dedication and unceasing efforts of Missionaries Underwood and Allen. Now, Yonsei has become a global university committed to creating a sustainable future for mankind and pioneering in the fields of education, R&D and social engagement. Thank you, friends and family of Yonsei, for being with us on this long journey and encouraging us to take the leap forward. On this auspicious day, I would like to welcome all alumni and alumna who are here for their 25th and 50th Reunion. We hope this Reunion to be a special and proud occasion for you to witness how much your school has progressed. Please enjoy the opportunity to catch up with your fellow classmates and to share memories of your old days at the campus.

This March, we had our first in-person matriculation ceremony after four years of online events. This was our starting bell, to which Yonsei is gearing up dauntlessly for the new challenges of the post-Covid-19 era. The pandemic has brought about fundamental changes in education, both overseas and domestic. There are serious inequalities in education and information, and equally serious gaps in learning. Furthermore, the emergence of a new group of Covid-19-era learners has given universities the difficult task of reviewing and reconceptualizing existing educational paradigms.

Yonsei, however, is transforming such crises into opportunities. We have already launched the first domestic online learning platform, LearnUs, which we have made also available for the general public, again for the first time in Korea. LearnUs will become an independent enterprise in the second half of this year. In this light, we have successfully created a global education platform that can radically innovate university education paradigms. Based on the educational expertise accumulated for 138 years, Yonsei is developing outstanding online education content and technology that successfully engage with the challenges of the post-Covid-19 era mentioned above.

As we are gathered here to commemorate our school’s founding, I find that this may be the best moment to share Yonsei’s recent achievements with you. I proudly inform you that, last year, Yonsei was placed 73rd in the QS World University ranking, and 78th in the Times Higher Education (THE) ranking. This sets an all-time high record, garnering the title of the best private university not only in Korea but also in all of Asia. We also achieved the most domestic first-place rankings in the evaluated academic fields. Such results would not have been possible without your love and support for your alma mater, and indeed not without the dedication and efforts of each and every member of the Yonsei community. Rest assured that we will continue to blaze the trail on our goal to becoming one of the world’s most respected universities. Specifically, we will invest unsparingly to reach the world’s top 50 schools in the short-term, and the top 30s in the long-term. I hereby ask the support and continued encouragement of the friends and family of Yonsei University.

Esteemed friends and family of Yonsei,

We will not rest on our recent laurels. In this post-Covid-19-era, Yonsei will actively embrace the challenges of becoming a global leader, rather than be a mere follower of the generational trends. Not only must Yonsei evolve into one of the world’s most competitive universities, but it must also secure a sustainable future, by re-defining and overcoming the current crisis of uncertainty.

In June, 2024, we plan to introduce a 127-cubit quantum computer, referred to as a game changer because of its capacity superior to any of the existing super computers. Quantum computers are employed in many research areas, such as finance, cryptology, medicine, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. Our Global Campus will be the site of Korea’s first quantum computer, which will put South Korea fifth in line of nations possessing quantum computers, after the United States, Germany, Japan, and Canada. Research on quantum information technology and global research networks will be made possible through our use of quantum computing, and in turn this new quantum ecology will invigorate related industries and propel us further forward as a leading global research and industry partner.

The need for industrial re-structuring centered on cutting-edge technology is ever on the rise. As daily life is itself undergoing digitization, new methods and technology in education in high-tech branches like semiconductors, and space to conduct convergence research and to develop cutting-edge technology are ever in demand. Yonsei’s “Engineering Hall – A” was constructed in 1972, and ever since then, our four Engineering Halls have provided crucial space for education and research high-tech fields. “Engineering Hall – E” is now under way, to further improve education and research environment in the field and to nurture the young minds of the post-Covid-19-era, consolidating our position as a leading global institution in education and research.

Yonsei’s medical science is already making its mark on the global scene. Since 10 years ago, we have invested in advanced methods of training medical scientists, so that they may contribute to worldwide medical science and newly emerging bio-industries. To build on this initiative, we have recently established the Yonsei Medical Scientist Training Agency, to take the lead in both spheres of medical science and biomedicine. In addition, our biomedical category in the world university rankings is on a sharp rise, where accomplishments in international cooperative research were especially noticeable. Moreover, Yonsei University Health System has made a groundbreaking shift in cancer treatment, through the first domestic implementation of the Heavy Ion Therapy System (HITS). HITS will offer world-class cancer therapy with less side effects, within a shorter period.

Also, Mirae Campus will benefit from an investment sum of 73.5 billion won in AI and semiconductor fields, and 6.3 billion won for developing remote medical care based on metaverse technology. Additionally, it will collaborate with Intel and Cambridge University’s Milner Therapeutics Institute to open AI-based graduate programs in health and medicine, as well as to work on projects based on health and medical big data through the use of smart devices. Thus, Mirae Campus will be able to construct an international industrial-academical cooperation system, through the development of new medicine, digital healthcare, and mutual exchange of data. Educational edge has also been strengthened, as there was a recent increase of 90 undergraduate students, revolving around these high-tech studies. In order to guarantee Mirae Campus a sustainable development, it is imperative that we retain a stable source of liquid income. Therefore, a task-force team will be formed to propose, for priority review by decision makers, practical ways of utilizing Mirae Campus’ available space.

Esteemed friends and family of Yonsei,

Yonsei’s pursuit of pre-eminence in higher education and research can only succeed when backed by bold investment. In 2021, Yonsei Development Committee (YDC) was organized by friends and family of Yonsei, to share the school’s vision and support its long-term goals. Last year, 70.5 billion won was raised by YDC. This will go towards securing researchers of highest potential around the world, developing innovative platforms and educational content/media, and solving societal problems efficiently, grounded on our Christian spirit.

2023 will be the starting point for convergence research at Yonsei. In the near future, Project-Y Research Institute (IPY) will be inaugurated to promote Yonsei’s convergence and innovation research, and further, systematically unify Yonsei’s research capability. They will receive customized support in accordance to the stages of research, such as the initial exploration of ideas, confirmation of the topic, and final execution of convergence research. Funds will be raised aggressively to cover the cost of research, and over 16.3 acres will be allocated for research space. I myself will take the helm as the Director of IPY and fully mobilize the administrative and financial capacities of the university. As Yonsei’s president, I promise to continue this stride towards the greatness of Yonsei.

Dear and esteemed friends and family Yonsei,

We face a period of uncertainty. More than ever in this post-Covid-19-era, it is difficult to predict the future. Hence, I implore you to persevere with us in this challenging moment, until this task, placed upon us by Heaven, is completed. Please walk with us on this path to greatness, and let us witness together the bright tomorrow. Dear friends and family of Yonsei, who devote yourselves to the sustainable future of mankind, I pray that the Lord’s grace will always be with you. Thank you.

May 13th, 2023

Seoung Hwan Suh