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Inauguration Ceremony of the 26th President of Seoul National University, Nak-in SUNG

  • SNU PR
  • August 5, 2014
  • Hit 11408
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Nak-in SUNG, President, Seoul National University

Dear esteemed former Presidents of Seoul National University, President of the SNU Alumni Association, Chairman and Trustees of the Board of Trustees, Fellow University Presidents, Members of the National Assembly, Ambassadors and Distinguished Guests, Mentors, Colleagues, Staff, and Students,

I would like to first extend my sincere gratitude to all of you for your continuous love and support for Seoul National University. I am deeply honored to be inaugurated as the 26th President of Seoul National University, my beloved alma mater and Korea’s leading university. At the same time, I am very much aware of the great responsibility that has been bestowed upon me, as I begin my term.

We are facing many difficulties. The revival of nationalist hegemonic power struggle after “the end of ideology” has cast shadows of uncertainty onto our country’s future. Historically, Korea has overcome financial and economic crises with much wisdom and diligence, but still many socio-structural and spiritual issues remain unresolved and are thus keeping us back from moving forward. The accumulated problems of the rapid industrialization and democratization process are still lurking beneath our everyday lives. It is time for us to strip ourselves of old perspectives and ideologies, and to rise up to our historical challenge and respond to the paradigmatic shift of “l’esprit du temps.”

What concerns me the most is that we, as a society, have slowly been losing interest and faith in the principles of public interest, public virtue, and common good, which are the core communal values. New nation-building subsequent to rapid industrialization and democratization must begin with envisioning and building a society ruled by law and principle, a society where “Fiat Justitia, Ruat Caelum (Let justice be done though the heavens fall)” holds true. What is of utmost importance in realizing such a vision is a will for action based on existential reasoning (existentialisme juridique) which brings together the ideal and the reality.

We, as a nation, have successfully established liberal democracy and made great economic advancement despite many obstacles, and throughout this process, Seoul National University has nurtured great national leaders who have pioneered and paved the way for the great progress and development of our nation. It is not an exaggeration to say that our university has been the guiding light leading our country forward.

However, at the same time, Seoul National University has had its share of critique by the outside community. This might be because many people feel that SNU still needs to live up to what the world expects of us.

Dear members of Seoul National University!

I am now entrusted with the responsibility to achieve these three goals; first, “SNU with People” - that SNU is loved by our country and our people; second, “SNU with Pride” - that the members of SNU have great pride in our institution and finally, “SNU with World” – that SNU renews its commitment to become a world-class university.

The most urgent problem at hand for our university is to find the right direction following our recent incorporation. The incorporation of national university calls for a new model for the development of higher education. As such, our efforts towards building a future vision for an incorporated SNU are none other than the processes for “the creation of a new university.” This cannot be achieved by emulating other university models, but rather, only with a firm conviction that our model is the creation of our own communal, pioneering wisdom.

Seoul National University must now take a great leap forward with a new “SNU-style development model.” We must innovate the governance system to rebuild our incorporated university as guaranteed by our constitutional rights to autonomy. I hope to lead the innovation of our university by garnering the wisdom of the respected members of our community. I will ensure the establishment of a responsible, decentralized administration, and in the process put the unreasonable practices of the past behind us.

Above all, we must always be faithful to the “fundamental role of the university”: education and research. We must strengthen SNU’s very foundation and renew its reputation as the center for academic research. We must reestablish our identity as a leader among world universities and be a true pioneer of new knowledge. To this end, creative innovation is absolutely necessary in research administration and management.

It is our duty to foster “kind leaders” with creative potentials and a firm will to lead our country and the world to a bright future. Today‘s world calls for leaders who are not only smart but who also have a kind, warm heart with a strong sense of social responsibility. I will strengthen our efforts to instill in our students a strong moral character, so that they will become honest, diligent, and kind leaders who can serve the society with great pride and responsibility. Let us cultivate in our students not only knowledge in the field of their study but also an overarching intellect that knows no boundaries among various disciplines; let us nurture our students to have the character that befits their roles as world citizens; let us provide them with a model of education that puts emphasis on humanism and the respect for human dignity. This kind of education is more crucial at the undergraduate level, so it is my intention to strengthen the undergraduate curriculum during my presidential term.

Dear esteemed members of SNU and my dear countrymen!

Seoul National University belongs not to a handful of academics but to all of Korea and its people; therefore, we must continue to assume the academic role of contributing to the nation’s development. We must serve the country with commitment and devotion, as we have been privileged to receive unwavering love and support from our countrymen throughout history. We will actively pursue projects for sharing knowledge with all members of Korean society. We will continue to work towards achieving social equality and greater social mobility by making sure that underprivileged students have equal access to the college entrance system. We will nurture future leaders who will serve our nation and people: not only those who come from privileged backgrounds but also those strong young minds who have overcome trials and tribulations. We will be the central pillar for the nation’s yearnings for reunification with North Korea by providing a national strategy for unified Korea. We will fulfill our duty to be a true pioneer in paving the future for Korea.

Lastly, Seoul National University must firmly position itself as a world-class university with an authoritative voice. We must reconfirm our global identity and reaffirm the basis for “SNU-style education and research model.” To do so, I will establish what shall be named “SNU Embassy” which will be the “point d'appui” for SNU’s internationalization. The systematic management of education and research outreach programs for Asia and Africa will lead to the establishment of SNU’s Leitbild by fulfilling our historical calling.

Dearest members of the SNU community!

In order to act upon our social responsibilities, it is imperative that all members of our community join together in “open communication and harmony” for true transformation and innovation. I would like to take this opportunity to make a solemn pledge that I will respect truth and honor, always keeping my ears open to your voices, always self-reforming and self-innovating. Universities must rise above the trappings of materialist society. Based on my deep faith in the members of our community, I would like to become a leader who can wait for great achievements, not a leader who short-sightedly and mechanically counts the output right in front of our eyes. I will always be truthful, humble and modest. And I hope that you will find me to be a president who can lead our community to true harmony, a president who always practices what he preaches, a president with deep insight and vision.

A university that all can take pride in!
A university that is loved by our country!
A university that leads the world!

This is the future I envision for SNU. And I will do my utmost to realize this vision.

“Korea is where it is today because SNU was there for our nation, as it always has been.” Someday in the future, this is how SNU will be recollected by those in the warm and generous embrace of our trustworthy academic community, like the SNU tree, the zelkova.

Together we can achieve this. I would like to humbly ask of you to take the first but important step with me towards realizing this great vision. Thank you once again for taking your valuable time to join us today and giving your blessings in my first step as the 26th President of Seoul National University.

Thank you.

August 5, 2014
Nak-in SUNG
President, Seoul National University

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