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To Everyone ~ A Retirement Message from Toshio HIRANO, 17th President of Osaka University


A Retirement Message from President HIRANO

The year I took the office of president of Osaka University, 2011, was the same year as the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, an event which we will never forget. After that, beginning with a 7.8% salary cut, momentum for university reform promotion began to pick up, and various university reform promotion policies were struck out by the government, such as the division of universities into 3 types, in preparation for the redefining of university missions and the 3rd term goal and planning period. Even under these circumstances, Osaka University has served as a constant leader for national universities all over Japan through its endeavors toward university reform.

At the beginning of my term, I first formulated the “Osaka University Academic Initiatives for 2012~2015 – ‘to be a university that shines forth even into the 22nd century,’” and as the central organization of these initiatives, I established the Institute for Academic Initiatives over which I maintained direct control. I then established the concept of “World Tekijuku,” which, through cultivation of human resources with the ability to perceive the true essence of things, aims to make Osaka University into a top 10 research university as a World Tekijuku, a university open to and which contributes to the world. This feeling is based on the idea that Osaka University is one that “exists through society and for society.”

This concept aims to contribute to the development of a spiritually-rich human society through the creation of harmonious diversity through scholarship. For this cause, I worked tirelessly for these past 4 years to conduct various reforms structured as “Support Measures for Strengthening of Globalization and Cultivation and Acquisition of Human Resources towards Becoming a Top 10 University,” all for the expansion of Osaka University. Through this process, I focused on not only how the individual can maximize his or her potential, but rather, how the entire university, i.e. the organization, can maximize its potential.

In addition, as fiscal resources for the execution of various measures and policies listed below, the university acquired 5 billion yen through the National University Reform and Reinforcement Promotion Project, Program for Promoting the Enhancement of Research Universities, Funding for Top Global University Project, Funds for Reinforcement of National University Function, Special Funding for University President Leadership, and the Research Administrator Development Program, as well as 20 billion yen from the Program for Innovation in the Public and Private Sectors.

In these four years, we have implemented various policies such as (1) flexible personnel systems such as the creation of the title of Osaka University Distinguished Professor, the Cross-Appointment system and the annual salary system, (2) promotion of international research development through the Program for Promoting the Improvement of Research Universities and the establishment of 34 international joint laboratories under this program, and the Young Researcher Cultivation Program, (3) establishment of programs and environments in which students can study independently such as the Undergraduate Student-Initiative Research Encouragement Project, (4) promotion of unified educational reform through adoption into the Top Global University Program (Type A) and the academic calendar as well as curriculum and entrance examination reforms within the program, and (5) international strategies such as a successful bid to bring a University of California office to Osaka University. In particular, Osaka University has set the pace for other national universities around the country through reviewing of charging for space and distribution of financial resources within the university as countermeasures against aging facilities. The various reforms taken by Osaka University have been regarded as examples for national universities around Japan, with inquiries coming from other universities and even the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, so I feel as though Osaka University has contributed to the development of Japanese national universities.

As grants for operating costs have fallen, we have undertaken fundraising through Osaka University’s Foundation for the Future in order to improve the infrastructure of Osaka University in preparation for the 100th anniversary of its founding in 2031. Among these, I feel that the promotion of drug discovery, neuroscience, photon science and technology, and global history through the creation of research divisions to promotion the combining of different research program fields in the Institute for Academic Initiatives continue to greatly contribute to the strengthening of research capability and globalization of Osaka University. Distinguished Professor AKIRA Shizuo (2011) and Distinguished Professor SAKAGUCHI Shimon’s (2015) winning of the Canada Gairdner International Award within a 4 year span were also fantastic results of these endeavors.

QS, a time-honored organization from the UK, has placed Osaka University 13th in Asia and 2nd in Japan in their 2015 Asia University Rankings. Of course, rankings are not everything when it comes to a university, they are simply one barometer for their evaluation. But even so, in this age of globalization, students from overseas select universities based on these rankings. In order to acquire the best and brightest international students, one cannot ignore these rankings. QS is but one university ranking organization, but I feel that Osaka University’s first ever ranking at 2nd in Japan carries quite a bit of meaning.

Since Osaka University merged with the Osaka University of Foreign Studies in 2007, the biggest problem facing the university has been the issue of the Minoh Campus. I can now happily say that we have arrived at a solution. However, as explained at a press conference with the mayor of Minoh city in June of 2015, this will not simply be a move of the Minoh Campus to the front the new Minoh Funaba station (this is a tentative name for a new station on the Kita-osaka Kyuko Railway planned to be opened in 2020 which extends past the current terminus of Senri Chuo), but rather, a pillar of the World Tekijuku concept, with the potential to become the headquarters Osaka University resting in this proposal. This will become a pillar for the 90th anniversary of Osaka University’s founding in 2021.

With regards to the student dormitories, an important factor on the hardware side of the World Tekijuku concept, we have proposed a 10 year plan for a World Tekijuku Village. This plan includes a private finance initiative in order to foster mutual living and communication not only between international and Japanese students, but faculty member as well. The planning for the first period of this project will begin in full effect in the summer of 2015. Osaka University was able to obtain certification and approval of operational content of OSAKA University Venture Capital Co., Ltd., established through government investment, for the first time at the end of June, 2015. With the over 10 billion yen in funding from both inside the university and out, Osaka University will begin cultivating various ventures. Through this, we were able to create a large path for various intellectual properties of Osaka University to be passed on to society.

In June of 2015, the 19th APRU Annual Presidents Meeting was hosted by Osaka University. APRU, or the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, consists of 45 universities from the Pacific Rim region. Presidents from this region of ever-growing importance gathered at Osaka University and we able to strengthen the ties between universities in the Pacific Rim. I proposed that the “creation of harmonious diversity through scholarship” was the most important role of universities in the 21st century, and was able to garner strong approval. I feel as though this was a large milestone in the 4 year concept of World Tekijuku.

In addition, we were able to create a path to the establishment of World Tekijuku graduate schools, which will become world standard graduate schools to cultivate the best and brightest human resources in research for the next generation of Osaka University’s areas of strength and areas of study that combine multiple fields. Through the continuation of this kind of reform and activity, Osaka University was able to gain the potential to expand into a World Tekijuku, and I believe that Osaka University will continue to shine forth in the coming decades, and into the 22nd century.

 “Don’t copy the work of others, create your own innovation (Souhaku wo namuru nakare)” were the words left by Professor NAGAOKA Hantaro, the first president of Osaka University. Upon leaving Osaka University, he said, “In order to make OU into the best university in Japan, I searched for, selected, and invited outstanding individuals as professors to OU. We created momentum for focusing our efforts on research first, especially in the field of industrial science. I will leave Osaka, but I’d like to ask both professors and students and preserve the academic brilliance of Osaka University.” I myself am not nearly as great as Professor NAGAOKA was, but I feel that in these four years, I was able to create many paths towards the World Tekijuku. I hope that you will use these paths to their full potential without ever stopping, and continue to put forth the effort to make Osaka University into a top 10 world university as World Tekijuku.

Dreams are meant to be achieved

Dreams aren't easily realized, which is why we call them “dreams.” However, if you think of dreams as another world that has nothing to do with you, dreams will always be just dreams. If you head for your dreams and climb each mountain before you one by one, someday those dreams will become a reality. And even if you don't realize your dreams, the process of working toward those dreams will make your life fruitful. I must leave Osaka University only partway through the journey towards the realization of a World Tekijuku, but I would like for you all to put your power and wisdom together and guide Osaka University on the path to becoming a World Tekijuku. This is only possible through the power of each student and faculty member at Osaka University.

 天の川 世界適塾 はるかなり
Ama no kawa | Sekai Tekijuku | Haruka nari
Starry Milky Way – Tekijuku for the World – Reaching for the stars

I am so thankful for everyone who worked together with me these past 4 years for Osaka University; it's something I won't forget for the rest of my life. I want to thank you all for your cooperation, advice and support from the bottom of my heart.

I'd like to end by wishing you all success and good health in the future.

August, 2015



"Aim to create a World Tekijuku, a university which is open to and contributes to the world, through the ideal of 'creating harmonious diversity through scholarship' and continue to better each other by working together to combine your wisdom and strength.
Dreams are meant to be achieved.
Thank you for these four years.
August 25, 2015
17th President of Osaka University
Toshio HIRANO"

Farewell Lecture at Osaka University

President Toshio HIRANO Farewell Lecture (July 14, 2015)

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