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From Chairperson

Message regarding my appointment as President of the Japan Association for College and University Education for fiscal 2021-2022

Reiko Yamada

  My name is Reiko Yamada, and I will be President of the Japan Association for College and University Education in fiscal 2021–2022. This will be my third term, and I hope I can count on your kind cooperation. Here, I would like to outline my approach for the upcoming term. In my previous terms, I have managed operations of the association thanks to the tremendous support of all our members, directors, delegates, and everyone in the Secretariat. Taking the achievements and contributions of our former presidents as a foundation, I followed in their footsteps—launching new projects to improve university research and education capabilities and actively disseminate information to a global audience. Thanks to the cooperation of everyone involved, I established stepping stones to get these initiatives on track. 

  Just when we had laid the foundation and were about to move forward, the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world, and our association too was greatly affected. We planned to hold our 2020 Annual Conference in Kyushu, and were steadily moving forward in consultation with their Planning and Executive Committees. However, we had to give up on the idea of a face-to-face meeting, and hurriedly switched to our first online Annual Conference. The memory of these events is still fresh. We held an urgent meeting of the Board of Directors, obtained their approval for switching to an online Annual Conference, combined the Planning and Executive Committees into a joint committee, and somehow managed to hold the conference online. I know this was a tremendous burden for the Executive and Planning Committees at Kyushu University, and for everyone at the Secretariat. I'd like to express my heartfelt gratitude for all your work. However, I think the vision and forward-looking approach of the Japan Association for College and University Education deserves a lot of praise. We did not cancel our conference and instead switched it online, and this led to comprehensive online meetings for the fiscal 2020 Research Project Conference and the fiscal 2021 Annual Conference.

  Our association conducted an online survey of faculty members relating to education and research, and in December 2020, we notified the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of the problems identified through that survey as needs in our field. 

  Another event of social significance was the problem of appointing members of the Science Council of Japan. To address this, we gathered the views of all our directors, and issued an urgent statement on the appointment of council members. 

  These severe problems—the COVID-19 pandemic and issues pertaining to the Science Council of Japan, on top of our routine business as an association—were trials that no one could have predicted for the association, and our president and directors. However, I'm convinced that these experiences will definitely be a source of strength in operations of the association going forward. 

  In the upcoming term, I plan to introduce a number of new ideas regarding association operations. 

  First is to recognize our mission and role as a general incorporated association, and ensure our management structure is suitable for that. The association has an Executive Board made up of the President, Vice President, Managing Directors, and the Secretariat. For this term I have asked Kayo Matsushita to be Vice President, Atsushi Hamana, Hiroaki Sato, and Hiroko Iiyoshi to serve as Managing Directors, Kazuya Sasaki to be the Secretariat Chief, and Shohei Yamauchi to be Assistant Secretariat Chief, and they have all accepted these posts.

  Thus far, the Vice President and Managing Directors have carried out work as committee chairpersons, but in this term, each executive will take charge of multiple departments, and another director will be the chairperson. This approach will be closer to the organizational management of a general incorporated association. It was recently proposed to the Executive Board, and we plan to get the approval of the Board of Directors in the future.

  Second, in parallel with the above change, I'm thinking of adopting an approach where we have many of the directors and delegates take charge as committee chairpersons and assistant committee chairpersons. In this way, I will take over operation of the association, and strengthen its structure.

  Third will be strengthening the international dissemination of information—a task that got left behind in my previous terms. Going forward, I want to focus on this point to achieve early implementation. I will ensure that projects for improving university education and research capabilities, which couldn't be implemented last year due to the COVID-19 crisis, will be started online this year. Also, as the research environment surrounding the association changes, both globally and inside Japan, we are working hard to develop a research ethics system. There are also issues pertaining to the future of the association, such as the best approach for a hybrid association with both face-to-face and online modes, and while valuing communication with all of our directors, delegates, and members, I hope to solidify our position as a sustainable, developing association, and play a leadership role in university education, research, and practice.

  I hope I can count on your support.