An Update from the Dean Stronach

TUJ as a Catalyst for Higher Education Globalization

September 29, 2015

In my last update I wrote about the upsurge in TUJ undergraduate enrollments and the reasons why there is renewed interest in TUJ. To begin this update I can only write that the situation for TUJ is getting increasingly better. Not only were summer 2015 numbers very strong; we will have over 900 students this fall which far exceeds our highest number of undergraduate students ever. Everyone who works at TUJ can be proud of the way in which we have maintained a great institution through troubled times and we can all now feel the benefit.

Given our success over more than 30 years, and especially now, I think it is important to take a look at TUJ as an institution in the broader sense. As a branch campus of Temple University, over the years TUJ has grown into a fully developed institution of higher education that is getting more and more recognition from other universities in Japan for the role that we play as a foreign institution of higher education operating in Japan, and as an example of how American universities administer themselves and educate their students.

In many ways the internationalization and reform of Japanese universities is being modeled after American universities because American universities are recognized as being the most competitive in a globalized world. Sometimes the "American" label can be a red herring as there can be a very understandable reflex reaction to anything American which is put forward as a model for others; especially given the postwar history of U.S.-Japan relations and the domination of Japan by the U.S. in the first 20-30 years after the end of the war.

It is a red herring in that focusing on the "American" label distracts people from the main point which is the need for reform and globalization in Japan, no matter what the model. Japan's fundamental concern must be the way in which entities everywhere—universities, businesses, governments—have to learn to adapt to a global market place. In Japanese universities, as elsewhere, there are both reformers who recognize the need to change what have been the societal, educational and business postwar traditions, but there are also still many who fear that fundamental globalizing reforms, or just about any type of change, will in some way take away from what makes their institutions Japanese. As was the case in the mid-19th century, Japan has to face the fact that survival depends upon creating an updated version of what it means to be Japan and Japanese. In the past, Japan remained a fairly closed system. Japanese universities educated their students for life in Japan and the needs of Japanese companies and other employers. This worked as long as those graduates stayed within Japan, but in this day and age Japanese companies need globally competent human resources which means that the traditional policies and practices of Japanese universities in the postwar era must now change. This is a conundrum faced not only by the Japanese but by all countries in the world. However, some are better at innovation and adaptation than others.

It should also be noted that during the heyday of "Japan, Inc." in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, major Japanese firms would have undertaken this training themselves. But in the post-bubble era, and especially in contemporary Japan, firms no longer have large training/education budgets and employees are much less likely to spend their lifetime with the same company. Therefore, companies depend on universities to provide graduates who are ready to perform on the global stage as soon as they are employed.

TUJ is acting as a catalyst in working with Japanese universities in the areas of administration and education that are important for the internationalization and global competitiveness of Japanese universities. This was demonstrated by the "American University Administration and Global Competition" symposium TUJ held at the U.S. Embassy at the end of June. Over the past year or two many Japanese universities have come to TUJ to talk to us about American university administrative policies and practices. We therefore decided that it was time to provide explanations and demonstrations in a much more organized manner. The symposium was planned in collaboration with the embassy to provide a practical explanation to Japanese universities about how American universities carry out three very important functions—academic advising, student service, and career development. The symposium was attended by 80 administrators, faculty, journalists and professionally related people, representing about 40 universities.

In closing, I'd like to take a minute to introduce TUJ's new Chief Academic Officer, Alistair Howard. Alistair has been a faculty member in the College of Liberal Arts at Temple Philadelphia for the past fifteen years and has served in many administrative capacities during that time. We are lucky to have him here at TUJ and after only three months he is already making a difference.

With best regards,