New Year’s Interview with Chairman, Board of Trustees, Yanagiya and President Tsuchiya: “Toward Further Progress in 2019”

Since its founding in 1881, Meiji University has continued steady progress while adapting to the needs of the times and a changing society. This year, preparations for the 140th anniversary activities planned for 2021 will begin in earnest, as the University’s 150th anniversary also comes into view. In this interview, Takashi Yanagiya, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Keiichiro Tsuchiya, President of Meiji University, spoke about their hopes for 2019 and the future of Meiji University.

The starting point toward a vision of Meiji University’s future

Naomi Ushio, Vice President: Happy New Year. Today, as we welcome the new year of 2019, we would like to hear the thoughts of Chairman Yanagiya and President Tsuchiya on the subject of “Toward Further Progress in 2019.” Let’s begin with each of your reflections on 2018.
Takashi Yanagiya, Chairman: Happy New Year. Looking back on 2018 from the perspective of University management, it was a year in which we made progress on some areas that have been concerns for many years, as exemplified by the conclusion of litigation concerning the former site of Tama Tech. At the same time, it also was a year in which we began construction on new facilities. Specifically, construction now is underway on Meiji Global Village, intended as an international dormitory with the capacity to accept 216 residents, where international students and Japanese students from rural communities will live and learn together, which is planned for completion in March of this year. We expect this facility to help advance globalization from its site on campus. We are able to launch initiatives such as this thanks to the considerable support provided by our current year income and expenditures balance before transfers to capital fund, which is equivalent to net income at a business corporation. In FY2017 settlement of accounts, this figure rose by more than JPY1.4 billion for the second consecutive year. Main factors contributing to this growth include increases in student income, which after rising to approximately JPY600 million in the final fiscal year of the previous Board of Trustees has increased further as a result of fee revisions and increases in student capacity thanks to the efforts of the academic side; an increase in entrance examination fees as the number of applicants exceeded 120,000; and practical implementation of cost controls through means including review of assets owned and cutting utility costs, thanks to the efforts of all staff. Incidentally, a look at Japanese universities as a whole shows that last year also was one in which society asked tough questions about the state of governance and public relations on the part of institutions of higher education. For this reason, I would like the academic side and the educational corporation to work together as one to ascertain and resolve the issues that the University faces at present, to drive the future progress of Meiji University.
Keiichiro Tsuchiya, President: Happy New Year. Once again last year, I had the opportunity to visit various places, both across Japan and around the world. In doing so, I spoke about the likelihood that the near future would be a time of transformation from the current state of a comprehensive university in which each department maintains its own independent curriculum to a mixed university characterized by education and research advanced through interaction among departments or with universities overseas. The Meiji University Research Institute of Autonomous Driving and its Social Acceptance, established in April of last year, is symbolic of this transformation. This Institute, by bringing together researchers from across the boundaries among academic departments, including those from the School of Law, the School of Commerce, and the School of Political Science and Economics, will consider how autonomous driving will take root in society not merely from the perspective of autonomous-driving technologies but as an issue affecting Japanese society as a whole, looking at legal issues such as liability for traffic accidents involving autonomous driving, on which Prof. Koji Nakayama of the Juris Doctor Course (Law School), the Graduate School of Law has played a central role in advancing research, insurance issues such as compensation for damage, and issues related to topics such as cooperation among local governments toward implementation to help revitalize local communities. Another example is the Creation of Innovative Educational System for Sustainable Society and Urban Growth program being advanced in the CLMV countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, which has been adopted for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Re-Inventing Japan Project: Support for the formation of Collaborative Programs with Universities in Asia. Last summer, I visited the Meiji University ASEAN Center in Bangkok, where I observed students from not only Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam but also other countries such as Singapore and Thailand work together with Meiji University students to find solutions to challenges through joint field work and research. Seeing Meiji University students and students from ASEAN countries learning together, I felt strongly that that could be the future vision for Meiji University. Through efforts such as these, we can become a university with a strong presence in Asia and the world. It seems to me that last year truly was the starting point toward the vision of a mixed university.

Commencing preparations for marking the 140th anniversary of the University’s founding

Ushio: I believe that 2019 will be an important year in preparing for the 140th anniversary of the University’s founding. Mr. Yanagiya, would you summarize the University’s projects to commemorate its 140th anniversary in 2021?
Yanagiya: Beginning in June of last year, the preparatory committee for activities to commemorate the University’s 140th anniversary in 2021 met several times, and in November the executive committee for such activities was launched. Membership of the executive committee includes representatives of the Alumni Association, the Parents’ Association, the Rengo Sundai Kai, and the Sundai Athletic Association, and our goal is to reflect the views of as many people as possible in the commemorative activities. Since 2021 also is a year in which we will formulate a new long-term vision, we will review progress on the current long-term vision and ask the academic side to propose a grand design, which will serve as a basis for formulating a new Meiji University Long-Term Vision. Accordingly, activities to commemorate the University’s 140th anniversary will be developed with an eye toward the 150th anniversary 10 years later as well. The executive committee includes four subcommittees—on the commemorative ceremony and reception, commemorative activities related to education, commemorative activities related to athletics, and publicity strategy—which will deliberate on detailed matters to serve as bases for practical initiatives by the executive committee. Incidentally, we have begun preparations for construction of a new education building to be based on educational concepts such as initial education, general education, and international education, on the south side of Building No. 2 on the Izumi Campus. We consider campus improvements such as this to be a part of the commemorative activities as well. I too intend to devote every effort that I can to the executive committee, and I would like us to realize compact yet substantial commemorative activities, with the understanding and support of faculty and staff, the Alumni Association, the Parents’ Association, students, and members of our local communities as well.
Ushio: Mr. Tsuchiya, are there any new topics or other items of note with regard to education and research in the run-up to the University’s 140th anniversary?
Tsuchiya: The activities to commemorate our 140th anniversary will provide an excellent opportunity to reaffirm the University’s founding spirit of “Rights and liberty” and “Independence and self-government.” In thinking about the 140th anniversary, the most important topic is the Statement on Diversity and Inclusion announced in November of last year. I would like us to consider how the University can provide appropriate places for learning and open up paths to the future for students from diverse backgrounds, by once again revisiting our founding spirit. In addition, in the new education building planned for completion in March 2022 on the Izumi Campus, we intend to create a learning commons on a dimension unseen university education through now. This refers to an educational environment in which students, through approaches such as active learning, can learn and solve problems on their own, while engaging in open discussion with faculty based on a level playing field. At its center will be a space where students can learn together, through active learning instead of a top-down approach. I believe that this will serve as a model for university education in the future and as a guidepost to the kind of education that Meiji University itself will provide in the future. Furthermore, I would like the academic side too to take the opportunity of our 140th anniversary to develop plans for the further future progress of Meiji University, including phase-two construction plans for the Nakano Campus and improvements to educational and research facilities on the Ikuta Campus.

You mentioned how the 140th anniversary is seen as a prelude to the upcoming 150th anniversary. Would you tell us about the future vision for Meiji University in 2021 and beyond, as described in the Meiji University Grand Design 2020?

In a word, our future vision is one of creating a “Mixed World.” We want Meiji University to take a leading role in change, for example through establishing an environment that enables cross-communication such as online courses conducted in cooperation with universities overseas and through adopting virtual classes in addition to real-world ones. It is likely that in 2031, when we mark the 150th anniversary of the University’s founding, students will not spend all their time on campus. They might study at a university overseas for a year, or they might even be off campus for all four years of their university education. I believe that at the time of our 150th anniversary we will have achieved, at least in part, a situation in which any university in the world can serve as a campus of Meiji University, through accelerating student exchange in a real sense.

It goes without saying that establishment of a solid financial basis is essential to realizing such a vision. It is likely that fund-raising and other activities also will be important to enhance the University’s financial basis. What are your thoughts on this point, Mr. Yanagiya?

The three elements of student income, subsidies, and donations make up the bulk of the financial basis of a private university. However, in consideration of the burden on household budgets there naturally are limits to how much we can revise student fees and tuition, and in light of the Japanese government’s fiscal situation, one could say that it would be difficult to increase subsidies. Accordingly, increasing donations is a very important factor in establishing a stable financial basis for the University. Under such conditions, in April 2017 we established the new University Advancement Division to provide further support for the University by strengthening alliances and cooperation with stakeholders such as the Alumni Association and the Parents’ Association, as we shifted to a structure that enables integrated management of efforts including fundraising. As a result, donation revenues in FY2017 rose by more than JPY100 million from the previous year, to JPY589 million. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our heartfelt gratitude to donors. At the same time, comparison with the amounts of donations received by other private universities over the same period shows that increasing the donations we receive can be said to remain a pressing issue. For this reason, in April of last year we established a direct debit program under which donors can contribute through direct debit from their bank accounts in months of their choice. This makes it easier to provide continuous support to the University. Furthermore, we have established a new Donor Advisory Board, and in November of last year we invited those who had provided considerable support—Special Shikon Supporters (an honorary title for those who have donated cumulative totals of JPY100 million or more to Meiji University) and Shikon Supporters (an honorary title for those who have donated cumulative totals of JPY10 million or more to the University) to a meeting in which they provided very beneficial advice on the future shape of the University. Through efforts such as these, we aim to further intensify our communication with donors. We also are considering making donations more visible through means such as posting nameplates or messages on new facilities such as classrooms themselves, chairs, or desks, to broaden the base of those who support the University through donations.

The Japan Association of Private Universities and Colleges has discussed the need for individual universities and colleges to adopt governance codes. As part of these discussions, the opinion was expressed that they should have sources of revenues other than student fees and tuition. This refers to increasing revenues from education in new ways, such as lifelong learning. Since Meiji University already has the Liberty Academy, we need to transform it into a pillar of University revenues through further improvement as a recurrent education facility. In addition, in discussions in the Council on Investments for the Future the Japanese government has brought up the issue of opening up paths to employment for senior citizens and midcareer hiring, and there is a need for university education for people aiming to take on new career challenges in these ways as well. I would like Meiji to be a university that supports such people in society. The time is coming to promote multigenerational education, under the “Mixed World” vision, instead of only our current focus on 18- through 22-year-olds. I believe that only universities that can anticipate such future needs will be able to survive into the future.

Strengthening ties between the Alumni Association and the Parents’ Association

Ushio: It would be no exaggeration to say that Meiji University’s history has been built together by not only students, faculty, and staff but also alumni and parents. What are your views on further cooperation with alumni and parents?
Yanagiya: It was 100 years ago, in December 1918, that the law known as the University Law was promulgated. Until then, the only universities in Japan had been the Imperial Universities, while historic private institutions such as Meiji, Waseda, and Keio had been considered technical colleges. After the promulgation of the University Law, these institutions aimed one after the other to rise to the status of universities. However, a precondition of such status was that the institutions “prepare, and deposit with the Japanese government, sizable endowments to enable them to continue operating as universities in perpetuity.” At that time, the required endowment was 500,000 yen, with 100,000 yen added for each department established. While Meiji was struggling to satisfy this strict precondition, the alumni of the time stepped up and raised donations that enabled us to attain university status officially in April 1920. One could say that ever since then, the history of Meiji University has been built together with our alumni. Mr. Masao Mukaidono, Director of the Alumni Association, frequently says, “There’s only one Meiji.” In fact, Drew Faust, the first woman to serve as President of Harvard University, has said often, “Don’t compare, connect.” In this sense, surely the desire of graduates to strengthen their mutual ties by connecting with each other to support their alma mater and help it to graduate students who can contribute to bringing peace to humanity is common worldwide. I visit many branches of the Alumni Association, and in the future I would like to enhance further cooperation with the Alumni Association’s 56 branches in Japan and around the world, its 223 chapters, and the 20 Shikonkai organizations overseas. By the way, on our 21st Homecoming Day last year, 150 officers of the Parents’ Association took part. We feel at our happiest when a parent tells us, “I’m so glad my child enrolled in Meiji University!” Together with continuing to provide solid support as an organization for the “Student First” educational policy, I earnestly hope that students’ parents too will come to think of Meiji University as their second alma mater.
Tsuchiya: Last year, I took part in Parents’ Association events in various locations, including Tohoku, Kanagawa, and Osaka. Through doing so, I was able to deepen interaction with parents. I also attended meetings of the Parents’ Association in South Korea and at the new branch in China, and this year we plan to open a new Parents’ Association in Malaysia, which now is in the planning stage. Since about 1,600 international students are enrolled in Meiji University, I believe that ties with Parents’ Associations will strengthen further in the future, centered on Asia. Since parents enthusiastically support our athletics programs and take part in events and other activities, seeing Meiji as their second alma mater even though they themselves are not alumni, and I would like us to continue to value these ties. I also have visited with Alumni Associations in various regions, including Hokkaido. Since numbers of students enrolling in Meiji University from rural regions have been decreasing in recent years, I worry about whether or not Alumni Associations in various regions will be able to continue into the future. I would like us to carry out measures to attract students to Meiji University from rural regions, in the interests both of maintaining the diversity of the student body and stabilizing the foundation of our Alumni Association nationwide. This is one reason I would like to propose measures such as admissions based on recommendations for children of alumni in various localities.

A year of the first steps toward substantial progress

Ushio: In conclusion, would you please tell us of your aspirations for 2019, and what makes you enthusiastic about the year?
Tsuchiya: We face one very important task in 2019: the establishment of a new liberal arts department. While proposals for this new department will be made in council of department heads and other venues, this represents a major turning point for Japanese universities. While until now university education has been more heavily weighted toward specialized education, with this new department we will reaffirm the importance of fundamental education and return to the true essence of the university. This also is a way of responding to the demands of society, as employers too are emphasizing the importance of a general education and the liberal arts. I definitely would like us to establish a new liberal arts department as a keystone in the transformation from a comprehensive university to a mixed university that practices education that links together various types of specialized knowledge. Doing so should make possible further large-scale increases in the vitality of the University, including the new education building at Izumi and Meiji Global Village.
Yanagiya: This will be the first year of a new era in Japanese history as the Heisei imperial era comes to a close. I hope that it also will be a year in which Meiji University will take the first steps toward substantial progress as it continues to shine as a university that is open to, and that communicates knowledge to, the world. In doing so, the perspective of Japan in the world will become even more important. A report issued by the Central Council for Education at the end of last year pointed out the need for institutions of higher education to realize appropriate scales in light of the projected decrease of 20% in the number of new university students between now and 2040, to 510,000 students. However, if we turn our gaze to the rest of the world, we can see that the global higher-education market is in a growth trend, with United Nations statistics estimating that the global population, said to be 7.6 billion, will reach 9.8 billion by 2050. Since this will advance further the transition to borderless higher education and lead to increasingly fierce competition among universities, we will need to be even more conscious of university rankings, not only in Japan but worldwide. Since Meiji aims to be counted among the top 100 universities in Asia, I would like the educational corporation to carry out coordinated efforts to achieve this goal. At the same time, a look at the present situation shows that we have 13 buildings that were constructed 50 or more years ago, and as the state of the educational and research environment becomes even more important we will need to rebuild or renovate aged facilities too. We must formulate construction plans based on prioritizing needs from the perspective of the entire University, while also being careful to avoid putting pressure on finances by concentrating the use of funds within short periods. On this point as well, I would like us to continue to maintain positive mutual communication between the educational corporation and the academic side.
Ushio: It would be wonderful if the educational corporation and the academic side could work hand in hand to enable further rapid progress in 2019 as well. Thank you very much for your time today.
Takashi Yanagiya, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Meiji University
Graduated in 1975 from Meiji University School of Commerce. Joined Nomura Securities Co., Ltd. in 1975. Positions held at Nomura Securities Co., Ltd. include company director in 1997, vice president in 2006, and vice chairman in 2008. Served as external director of Showa Sangyo Co., Ltd. May 2016 ~: Current post

Keiichiro Tsuchiya – President, Meiji University
Graduated from Meiji University’s School of Law in 1970, then withdrew from the Meiji University Graduate School having completed the coursework in 1977. Appointed as a Research Assistant in 1978 and then as a Professor in 1993 at Meiji University School of Law. Held positions as Dean of the School of Law, and Executive Trustee (Academic Affairs). April 2016 ~: Current post Expertise: “Jurisprudence, History of modern British thought”

Naomi Ushio, Vice President (Public Relations)

After quitting as an announcer for Fuji Television Network, Inc. following her marriage, attended graduate school while raising a child. Employed by the university in 1998. 2009: Professor, School of Information and Communication. April 2016 ~: Current post Research theme is “Design of places and methods, which ensure that company workers can reach their full potential regardless of gender.”

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