Professor Suh Soon Tak was chosen as the prime candidate for the ninth president of the University of Seoul (UOS) as the result of the presidential candidate election on Dec. 19, 2018. And then, a professor Suh was officially appointed as a President on March 1. In addition, inauguration ceremony was held on March 25. He was a professor at the Department of Urban Administration at the UOS, as well as a UOS alumnus. Thus, this election is quite monumental because he is the first president who is also a UOS alumnus.
Following on the centennial anniversary of the university, it is also a turning point for our university to present new directions and innovative goals along with the new president. The UOS Times interviewed Prof. Suh and listened to his pledges, as well as his reminiscences as one of the professors affiliated with the Department of Urban Administration.
1. First of all, we congratulate you on becoming the prime candidate for president of UOS. Please tell us your aspirations as a president and how you feel about winning the election.
I did not say how I felt when I was elected. This was out of consideration for those who worked together but did not become candidates. I thought it was more important to consider the people who should work together for the university’s development rather than being carried away by triumph over the opponent. Personally, I am happy and I will do my best for UOS.
2. What new challenges or directions are you considering for UOS?
As I look back on the university’s history, I feel that UOS has been heading toward a certain destiny. There was a major change when our university transitioned from a focus on agriculture to a focus on industrial science. Also, UOS grew significantly when it reorganized toward a becoming a municipal university. Time has passed, and now we are living in an age of high technology, and we are experiencing sudden change. In response to this change, our university aims to focus on innovation in education courses to foster talent, expand research foundations, and discover business opportunities through cooperation with the government.
3. You are the first president who graduated from UOS. What do you think about the merits and demerits of our university, as you have been at UOS for such a long time?
At first, I did not realize that I had been elected, but then many alumni congratulated me. At that moment, I realized once again that this is not an individual affair, but it requires a heavy responsibility from alumni. As you know, our university is municipally-operated. Therefore, UOS has both merits and demerits as a public university at the same time. Since Seoul city provides stable financial support, there are no major difficulties in running the school. Ironically, however, such advantages made our university difficult to concentrate its capabilities on further development. Thus, I am going to solve these problems. I will try to maximize the merits and minimize the various limitations that we face as a public university. I want to make a leap forward through cooperative relations with the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG). In order to persuade SMG, we have to share our blueprints with them so that the development of UOS also means that of Seoul city.
4. How are you going to communicate not only with SMG, but also with the students and the faculty?
For active communication with SMG, I will contact them with specific goals, visions, and action plans for UOS. Also, there will be a window for ongoing communications with members of UOS. For example, the campus committee will receive what students and faculty want from time to time and will check weekly to see how it improves. Since the students are the main users of the campus, I will try to create facilities and spaces for them. I am planning to create a new campus space from the Front Door to Joongang-no?(the Central Street, in English). In addition, I am going to build smart classrooms so that students can give presentations and hold discussions together, not just the existing, traditional lecture facilities.
The President Suh making an announcement on a convention at KRIHS
5. Now you are leaving teaching and lecturing while you serve as president. How do you feel?
It has been 18 years since I came to our university. There was a sense of satisfaction from raising good people that cannot be calculated as money. I felt sad that I cannot do lectures and research anymore, but now I am willing to give my best support to all professors and students. As I fully understand the position of the professor, I am thinking about what I can actually do for them.
Through the interview, The UOS Times could feel Suh’s passion for UOS. Since he has spent such a long time at UOS as a student and a professor, he seemed to know the characteristics of our university better than anyone else. He also has a specific plan and aspiration for university development. However, the President alone will not be able to make that big leap forward. As this year follows the centennial anniversary, it is an important one in that UOS must continue its brilliant history for another 100 years. The UOS times hope that all students, personnel, and faculty are in harmony for improving UOS.