Message from the President

Grounded in tradition, innovation and creativity

Located in the historic and culturally rich city of Kyoto, Kyoto University advances quality education and cutting-edge research while endowing its students and researchers with a spirit of self-reliance and independence. The University has emphasized academic freedom and frank dialogue since its foundation in 1897, and that rich tradition and distinctive approach make it one of the world’s most dynamic, innovative, and creative academic institutions.

In April 2004, together with all national universities in Japan, Kyoto University became a National University Corporation. This change represented a shift from the era of the national universities to a new system and a new academic environment. In accordance with the new system, Kyoto University established its Mid-Term Objectives and is now subject to quality assurance evaluations by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT). In this current period of great upheaval for universities, I am keenly aware that expectations are higher than ever for Kyoto University to maintain its heritage of academic freedom while resolutely tackling complex global issues and contributing to a harmonious global community.

Article 7 of the Fundamental Law of Education states that "as academic centers, universities will, in addition to cultivating sophisticated learning and specialist knowledge, be engaged in a profound search for truth and the development of new insight, and will contribute to the development of society by making the results of their endeavors widely available". According to the Fundamental Law, the primary mission of universities is the cultivation of human resources through the "dissemination of knowledge". Research, the second mission, entails that universities undertake cutting edge research activities whilst being engaged in a profound search for truth in order to "foster knowledge" and "construct an intellectual system". Additionally, the creative research activities of universities must include an element of human resource development through allowing the involvement of their students. In this way, the education and research activities of a university are like the two sides of one coin, and a balance must be maintained between the two. The third mission, contribution to society, may take many diverse forms, such as the transmission of knowledge to society, industry-government-academia collaboration, policy recommendation, or the provision of high-level treatment by university-affiliated hospitals.

In meeting these diverse requirements, Kyoto University must emphasize its unique qualities as an academic center based in the prestigious and culturally rich city of Kyoto, and demonstrate, domestically and internationally, its robust strategy to consistently produce cultured global citizens and world-class researchers. It is my intention to perform my duty as president with a resolute and dignified spirit, unswayed by passing trends and fads.

Like an expansive and fertile ground that yields fruit in the form of talented human resources and vital research results, universities have a crucial role to play as the wellspring of knowledge—not not only for Japan, but for the future of humankind.

It goes without saying that education and research are the foundations of any university. In order to ensure the excellence of that foundation, faculty and staff must be able to take pride in their work, a high caliber of students must be fostered, and the system itself must be sustainable. A university's faculty and staff are its most precious assets. Maintaining and fostering outstanding faculty and staff to support endeavors of Kyoto University, not only at present, but also in the future, and promoting an atmosphere in which those faculty and staff members are appropriately valued is our most important task. In other words, I believe it is of the utmost importance to make radical efforts to establish a system in which faculty members can dedicate themselves to education and research, and simultaneously, I believe it is necessary to make efforts to establish a system in which the staff who support university undertakings, such as education, research and the provision of medical facilities, approach their work with a sense of pride and aspiration.

For that reason, it is necessary for universities to have a strategy which ensures a solid financial foundation, research support, support for international cooperation, and the improvement of facilities in addition to education assistance and student support.

As president, I have in my mind a clear image of an ideal Kyoto University ten years in the future, and I have a reliable plan to work steadily towards the realization of that ideal.

Emphasizing dialogue, and through cooperation across the entire university, I hope to realize a Kyoto University instilled with merit, vitality, and ability. I sincerely hope that all of our members will join me in this endeavor.

Hiroshi Matsumoto
Kyoto University