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Meeting with new President Chung Jin-Taek to create a people-cen...
  • Writer : KU Today
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  • Date : 2019-05-22

KU Vision Interview
Warm revolution - Meeting with new President Chung Jin-Taek to create a people-centered Korea University


Dr. Chung Jin-Taek was inaugurated as the 20th President of Korea University on March 1. He attracted considerable attention and expectation, even before his official inauguration, for being the first president from the College of Engineering in KU history. “No area is immune to the paradigm shift the Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought upon us today. However, the more our society revolves around cutting-edge technology, the bigger role humankind must assume in creating new values,” said President Chung in his inaugural speech, underscoring his vision to create a “People-centered Korea University”. We uncover the “new challenges that lay ahead for the new president” towards the ultimate goal of serving people beyond innovation as the guiding principle for KU, the institution that has always spearheaded in charting a path for higher education in Korea.

President Chung headed toward the campus cafeteria on March 4, the first working day of his presidency. Having been a professor getting along quite well with students, he started his first day on the position by having breakfast with students. KU appropriates part of the funds raised through the KU Pride Club (KUPC) to subsidize the cafeteria to offer a breakfast valued at KRW 4,000 to students for just KRW 1,000. KUPC is a campaign to encourage contributions as small as KRW 10,000 per month to Korea University.

The word sikgu, or “family members,” literally translates as those who eat together in the same house. President Chung fostered a sense the KU family by dining and talking with students in the cafeteria, engaging them in thoughtful conversation about daily life. “The warm heart of many people who support and care about Korea University can be perceived by students through warm meals,” said President Chung.

Networking innovation for participation and

People, the bedrock of sustainable development!

President Chung entered the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Korea University in 1979 at the age of twenty. Since then, aside from a stint studying abroad, Korea University has been a part of his world. His life cannot be explained without reference to Korea University.

“I entered Korea University 40 years ago, and have been working as professor for the school for 26 years. Over such a long period of time, KU has always been an infinite source of pride for me. I feel a heavy responsibility, along with pleasure, for assuming this important position in terms of passing down the greatness of KU and achieving goals by working with the present and future members of the KU community.”

President Chung tends to shake hands with the people he meets. He is the first to extend his hand after a bow because he believes that warmth delivered through the hands should precede cool-headed logic in face-to-face communication. In this sense, he believes the leadership that Korea University requires today should be rooted in a culture of respect for others.

“I believe that the bedrock of every organization is mutual trust and confidence. In an era of cut-throat competition, a warm-hearted leadership style that prioritizes people is much needed. Listening to others is more important than talking in communication. I hope that we will create a culture putting people ahead of organization or policy by opening an official or unofficial window of communication with diverse people at all times.”

President Chung stressed that in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, creativity and innovation are essential to the development of cutting-edge technology, but they should be directed towards serving people. That is why he outlined the motto of a “People-centered Korea University in Creating New Values” at his inauguration. So what does he mean by “people-centered”?

“Under the banner of Education Saves the Nation, our school has produced talented people with the abilities to assume social roles and responsibilities. The very reason why universities exist is to foster talent. Education is about selecting and cultivating talented people to sharpen their abilities to contribute to society and humanity. Moreover, scientific development should ultimately be directed towards enhancing the happiness of people. To make value-oriented and sustainable development a reality, I want to prioritize people over anything else.”

Human KU, a platform for innovation
Unveiling 30 strategic tasks and 103 action items

Korea University has recently outlined a mid-to long-term development strategy towards a new and uncharted path for higher education.

“Korea University plans to upgrade its platforms of education and establish a new role for higher education amidst swirling currents in surrounding environments. To this end, we have set three overarching strategies: The first is creative and convergence content innovation. In education realm, we will build an educational platform to create innovative values based upon interdisciplinary curriculum and sharing, as well as integrated education system to foster talent in the years to come. While enhancing major-related core capacities will lay the ground for the new system, we will seek to overhaul the general education curriculum system centered on creativity and convergence, further creative problem-solving abilities, expand ICT-based educational content, enhance full-cycle capabilities of talent, and build a platform for career development and management. In research area, we will upgrade research support system, cultivate future-leading basic and applied research projects, and construct a researcher-centered cutting-edge infrastructure. To do this, we will also create a platform to support and share research facilities and equipment as a key task.

The innovation of participatory communication networking is the second strategy we set. In order to cultivate creativity and interdisciplinary talent in people who will lead the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we plan to expand interdisciplinary business-academy-research curriculum while providing intensive support to help students sharpen their abilities to establish a startup. To spread KU’s technological assets into the local and industrial communities, we will forge open and cooperative governance between business, academy and research. We will also accelerate the way we foster global talent by creating an educational and research platform of global sharing. Contributing to the international community and leading the effort towards the Korean reunification by action will promote the standing of KU across the world. Upgrading the position of the social volunteer corps and expanding extra-curricular programs will also be implemented as measures to reinforce participatory and hands-on education, thus fostering intellectuals on action. We will embody sharing and co-growth values by enhancing organic solidarity with local communities, social corporations and non-profit organizations.

Lastly, we are focusing on rebuilding our school as a whole into a futuristic campus through a future-oriented infrastructure innovation strategy. We will decentralize power and authority into each unit of the school, expand autonomy, promote the channels of communication amongst and participation of our members, and put into practice one-stop services tailored to users. In particular, with the aim of building a smart campus infrastructure, we will establish a system of consulting data analysis and accumulating the results to be used in education, research and administration. Such efforts will help us realize data-driven leadership in the end.”

Cultivating interdisciplinary talent equipped with specific core capacities outlined by KU

Future society should be propped up by fast-changing science and technologies, but anyone who only follows such changes, without creating new values suitable for a new environment, would soon fall behind in competition. Korea University is quickening its pace to nurture talent by implementing interdisciplinary educational programs this year in earnest.


In a first for Korea, KU will establish the Department of Artificial Intelligence affiliated with the Graduate School and recruit entrants for its Integrated Master-Doctoral Degree Program and Doctoral Degree Program from the second semester of 2019 while supporting various interdisciplinary majors for undergraduate, thus eliminating boundaries between humanities and natural science. “The types of talented people KU seeks to cultivate fall into three groups: people with interdisciplinary talent that focus on the basics, people with creative talent who emphasize the values of sharing, and people with global talent who can communicate and perform across the world. In order to foster people with interdisciplinary talent who will lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we plan to use an interdisciplinary curriculum. In particular, from the second semester of this year, the College of Engineering is introducing its Technology Entrepreneurship program, in which the seven departments and divisions from the College of Engineering will join the Department of Business Administration and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering to provide startup-related classes such as Campus CEO, Venture Business Management and technology-based startup classes, including data analysis and technology commercialization.” President Chung expressed his hope that such interdisciplinary educational programs of KU will contribute to creating jobs and incubating creative individuals who will grow into leaders in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“We cannot navigate through the new ear by resorting to conventional ways of thinking and methods. Creativity and innovation will be the basic requirement for any field. Talented people with problem-solving, sharing and communicative capabilities to reach unity, reconciliation and harmony, instead of simply acquiring information and knowledge, are the ones KU aspires to cultivate,” President Chung added. He set 5 Competencies (5C) required for cultivating people-centered creative talent and presented a systematic scheme interconnecting the education goal, qualities of talent, and core capacities.

He also emphasized that in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digital technologies and computational thinking will serve as the basic platform for all academic fields and industries, and thus these qualities should be the basic competencies required for all students to acquire.

Multi-faceted educational environment focusing on hands-on experience and challenging spirit As the most important factor in future-talent education, President Chung pointed out the project-based learning and cooperation and discussion-centered curriculum. He plans to create a wide spectrum of extra-curriculum programs focusing on hands-on experience for learning, rather than a tight-scheduled curriculum, and provide students with more opportunities for social activities to expand their network with other KU students.

“KU has X-Garage and KU Maker’s Space as startup incubating spaces equipped with 3D printers, scanners and other various cutting-edge devices and tools. The slogan of the recently inaugurated X-Garage is “support with no strings attached.” This is a venue to lower the barrier to establish a startup while broadening the basis of ideas. Through these spaces, we provide systematic and comprehensive support, including prototyping and technological consulting, across various areas such as law, finance, PR and patent, thus turning students’ ideas into reality.”

KU has recently been acknowledged by the Ministry of Science and ICT as the best institution in the area of national R&D startups (2018) for its strenuous effort to foster talent to lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution through phase-by-phase startup support. The school was also selected for the ENTER (ENtrepreneurial TEch-based Research University) pilot program funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, along with its designation as the “excellent startup education university” in the 2018 Industry-Academy Cooperation Expo.

Such performances are the results of KU’s initiatives to create an exclusive space of educating and supporting entire startup process from ideation to commercialization. Korea University established Campus CEO, a regular class on full-cycle startup process, in 2008, the first in Korea, which became the model of Seoul’s “Campus CEO Cultivating Program”, and since then it has been recognized as the best startup support university in Korea for its decade-long systematic startup educational programs.

“Universities are supposed to foster the interdisciplinary talent needed in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said President Chung, stressing, “Korea University will spare no effort to provide differentiated education and support to foster such creative future talent.”

Professional investment fundraising for

development and cooperation

One of the pending tasks facing universities in Korea is raising development funds to finance various programs. Regarding that, President Chung is planning to attract investment from local residents and KU alumni to “raise a professional investment fund” to finance infrastructure building and generate profits.

“The hard truth is that universities cannot rely on tuition fees alone to finance their activities to resolve pending crises and advance towards the future. It is getting harder for us to attract a lump sum of investment from businesses. The key to the strategic fund I envisage is expanding development fund for value creation. We plan to raise funds to be channeled into constructing or remodeling buildings in early stage, and crowdfunding or startup angel funds will be raised to finance research on specific topics to live up to social needs. In addition, we will utilize the campus infrastructure financed by such funds to generate and share profits with donators, thus instilling the sense of belonging and mission across them to be a part of school development and transformation.”

Refreshing the KU spirit to leave bold footsteps

Korea University is faced with a formidable challenge today as the history of human civilization is taking a new turn. However, we are not afraid. The first generation of Korea University stood up with a firm determination to save the nation at the time of peril and danger 114 years ago. We will rise to the challenge just as we always have.

“There is a saying: ‘Create the new, but do not contradict the spirit of the classics.’ Innovation and creativity to keep up with the pace of technological evolution are essential to chart a path in the new era, but we should never forget the tradition and history of Korea University. During my term, I will refresh the meaning of ‘KU spirit’. The humanistic value and warmth that KU has upheld thus far, I believe, will be a beacon of hope for us all in the era of the technology-driven Fourth Industrial Revolution. KU has reconciled with times and embraced various people based on diversity and inclusiveness. These are the values KU will continue to pursue as we create new values in the years to come”


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