In 2023, Kyungnam University (KU) celebrated its 77th anniversary since its establishment. It was also a significant year as it marked the 66th anniversary of the founding of KU Newspaper (KUN), as well as the 46th anniversary of the establishment of the KU Broadcasting System (KUBS) and the Kyungnam Times (KT). To commemorate the long and fruitful relationship between the university and the Center for University News and Press (CUNP), a joint interview was conducted with President Park Jae Kyu on May 9, 2023, at the President’s Office. Participants include Editor of KUN Jung Ji-in, Editor of KT Jeong Su-hyeon, Student Director of KUBS Park Se-min, Director of CUNP Jung Eun-sang, Administrative Team Leader of CUNP Kang Jong-ou, and Managing Editor of KT Han Hak-sun.
Q1. I would like to hear your views on what crisis management and response strategies our university can pursue in the face of the worst-ever decline in the school-age population in 2024, as a local university.
A: Our university has undertaken various measures to secure the competitiveness of our departments by focusing on health-related fields, public talent, and engineering colleges. We have established and restructured departments and reduced enrollment quotas. To attract new students, we are strengthening collaboration with local governments, businesses, and educational institutions to expand opportunities for employment in excellent local companies. Furthermore, we plan to actively organize an expanded major experience program for high school students in our region and hold various informational sessions for incoming students and their parents.
Q2. Would you recommend ways KU students can have a happy campus life and increase their pride in KU? What are your views on the policies and strategies for KU to become a university that companies can trust for recruitment and local residents can willingly support?
A. Starting from the 2022 academic year, various events that students can directly participate in have been held by student organizations, including the General Student Council. Additionally, from the 2023 academic year, Okgye Training Center has been opened. To foster creative convergent talents that will lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we are establishing a modern educational environment with new facilities such as the Global Game Center and the USG Coding Open Meta Campus in the Hanma Hall.
Q3. What programs will be provided and what measures will be taken to enhance the rates and competitiveness of employment for the students at KU as well as those who graduated from local universities?
A. In response to your question, we have five strategies. First, KU is to become a top university in the southeastern regions of Korea in the field of employment excellence. Second, KU is to be a leading university in employment by cultivating resourceful students via educational capacity enhancement. Third, we will provide stepby-step and tailored education to increase employment rates in various fields as well as providing specialized employment preparation education for female students. Fourth, we will foster specialized personnel who are to support successful employment. Fifth, our university is currently operating a program called 'Employment Responsibility Professors,' which establishes professors as mentors who can guide students to successful employment.
Q4. I think it is very important for universities to cooperate with domestic and foreign companies as well as local governments, to develop projects that can receive financial support, and to actively discover and utilize industry-academy cooperation programs. In this regard, I would like to listen to your opinions
A. Regarding national projects, our university has been receiving an annual budget of 21 billion won, making it one of the leading national projects supported by the Ministry of Education. In addition to the Ministry of Education, we have been attracting an additional 4.7 billion won in projects each year in our key specialized fields of ICT/SW and future-oriented automotive industries. We are also aiming to establish a foundation for cultivating professionals in emerging industries such as future mobility and gaming. Furthermore, we are making every effort to attract various national projects as new initiatives.
Q5. Would you tell us if there is anything that KUN, KUBS and KT can do to further develop KU?
A. As media organizations, it is crucial for you to continuously monitor the development of the university and its interaction with the local community. You should actively engage in public discourse, exploring ways to contribute to both the advancement of the university and the development of the local community. Additionally, you should strive for higher journalistic quality and transparency through close collaboration between the university and media outlets, serving as a bridge for communication between the university and the local community.
Q6. I would like to listen to your views on reunification and the North Korea policy for the achievement of a peaceful and prosperous non-nuclear weapons Korean Peninsula. Additionally, I would like to listen to your thoughts on the consciousness of reunification that young people should have for the future of reunification.
A. The security environment surrounding the Korean Peninsula is more severe than ever before. Currently, North Korea is turning away from inter-Korean dialogue, but we must not hesitate to provide support to vulnerable North Korean residents with a sense of compassion for our compatriots. As future leaders of reunification, I ask that all the students at KU kindly show interest in inter-Korean relations and the issue of reunification with warm hearts.
Q7. Recently, in line with its prestigious reputation as the central university that sparked the March 15th Movement and the Bu-Ma Democratic Protests, the Institute for K-Democracy Studies was established in KU. I would like to listen to your views on the democracy movement.
A. The democratization movement is one of the most significant events in the history of Korea. Based on this historical background and the role of universities, we have established the Institute for K-Democracy Studies. Democracy is one of the fundamental values of our society, and we must continuously strive to uphold it. The Institute will serve as a place where democracy is examined and researched from a more profound perspective as part of these ongoing efforts.
Q8. What policies do you think are important for KU to grow into a highly regarded university internationally and for KU students to develop into individuals who can view the world from international perspectives?
A: Non-capital region universities face a new challenge of securing foreign resident manpower. Therefore, our university is preparing various policies. First, we are enhancing international networking by diversifying the countries from which we attract international students, in order to achieve campus internationalization. To that end we are actively promoting our university worldwide. Second, we will provide various programs such as foreign language education, overseas training, student exchange, and international internships to enhance the internationalization capabilities of our domestic students. Third, we will continuously develop programs to support both domestic and international talents with enhanced global competencies gained at our university, enabling students to fully utilize their capabilities in society.
Q9. Thank you for generously providing answers for this lengthy interview. Finally, would you give a message to the students, faculty, and staff of our university, as well as the entire university community? I wish you continued good health.
A. Dear Hanma family! As a university with a long history and tradition, KU must strive its best for educational innovation, knowledge advancement, and regional development. In the future, our university will actively respond to the changes and challenges we face by innovating the educational organization of departments and colleges according to the social demands of the various academic fields, improving teaching methods, and advancing the educational environment of our school. Let us pioneer the future with the high pride and confidence of being Hanma members. Once again, I wish continued success to the three major media outlets. Thank you