Waseda until now and into the future

Conversation between the University’s current president and new president

Professor Aiji Tanaka (left) and President Kaoru Kamata

In June 2018, Professor Aiji Tanaka of the Faculty of Political Science and Economics was elected the 17th president of the University. President Kaoru Kamata, who has been president of Waseda University for eight years since 2010 (he will finish his term on November 4th, 2018), and Professor Tanaka, the newly elected president, had an engaging conversation as they took a look back at the past, considered future prospects and talked about the latest issues.

“Establishing the foundation of university management towards the realization of our philosophy” – Kaoru Kamata, 16th President of Waseda University

Kaoru Kamata graduated from the School of Law in 1970. He became professor in the School of Law in 1983, and president of the University in 2010. In addition to making the strategic plan Waseda Vision 150 a reality, he has been involved in Japanese educational reforms outside of the University, holding positions such as the Chair of the Education Rebuilding Implementation Council and the Chairman of the Japan Association of Private Universities and Colleges.

The greatest achievement in the last eight years has been formulating Waseda Vision 150, the University’s strategic plan, putting it into practice and reaching a level where it achieves a certain result. The concept of Waseda Vision 150, as we marked on the 130th anniversary of the University’s founding in November 2012, was to look ahead in 20 years’ time and consider what Waseda University should do to reach that vision.

In addition to the main pillars of the University’s mission which are education, research and contributing to society, Waseda Vision 150 places university management as its fourth pillar. Drawing on a vision for the future full of students with ambition who contribute to the world, it aims to cultivate global leaders with insight and ability, promote creative research and utilize the power of approximately 630,000 alumni to strengthen initiatives for regional contribution and local collaboration.

Professor Tanaka also contributed to the formulation of Waseda Vision 150. I hope that he will integrate our efforts until now and make advancements based on new issues we face today.

“Increasing international competitiveness in research and education to become a globally outstanding university” – Aiji Tanaka, 17th President of Waseda University

Aiji Tanaka graduated from the School of Political Science and Economics in 1975. In 1985, he obtained his Ph.D. in political science from the Ohio State University. After holding positions such as assistant professor at Toyo Eiwa University and professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, he became professor at Waseda University’s Faculty of Political Science and Economics. Since 2006, he has served in various positions at Waseda University, including dean of academic affairs and senior executive director for academic affairs.

I spent 10 years in the United States for my graduate training, and since then I have been working with many faculty members and administrators of universities in North America, Europe and Asia. I would like to make use of what I have learned from these experiences to internationalize Waseda. In the future, it will become essential to clarify our priorities of our policies in order to achieve greater results. I put particular emphasis on the following three points.

The first is to raise the level of research and the quality of education. Specifically, we will focus on recruiting outstanding young faculty members beyond the existing faculty. Because training excellent students and researchers is an important role of the University, we will absolutely not compromise in recruiting outstanding faculty members in each field.

The second is to strengthen public relations overseas, and the third is to further strengthen our financial base. We need to seek out financial resources not only from Japan, but also from overseas in the future, such as through international fundraising. In this regard as well, I think that the role of public relations overseas is significant. As I succeed the philosophy of Waseda Vision 150, I would like to sublimate it to the next stage.

Waseda University’s global ranking

Kamata: Rankings are merely rankings, but even so, they are what they are. There are disadvantages to the evaluation standards for private universities in Japan, and I think that it is not necessary to be too concerned about the rankings. However, it is also a reality that an emphasis is placed on rankings for factors such as international recruitment.

Tanaka: While raising international competitiveness is an important issue, setting a ranking order as a goal is getting one’s priorities backwards. It is necessary for us to actively communicate the predominance of our University to attract excellent faculty members and students from all over the world, and to have stellar achievements. It is important to create a virtuous cycle that attracts extraordinary talent.

How to respond to changes in the environment surrounding education

Kamata: While our University nurtures diverse individuality, education that emphasizes diversity even further is needed. In order to ensure diversity, it is necessary to expand the entrance examination system, so that prospective students, such as those from regional areas, exchange students from overseas and working adults can apply to our University through various options.

Tanaka: For students preparing to take the examination, the entrance examination is a way into the University. On the other hand, from the University’s perspective, it could be said that the way the entrance examination is carried out is a statement of our own educational policy. For example, there was a great reaction when we announced that the School of Political Science and Economics will add mathematics as an entrance examination subject, starting from the FY2020 entrance examination. Through such entrance examination reform, I think that it is important to show society the kind of education each school of Waseda University is aiming for.

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