An Update from the Dean Stronach ( - September 13, 2020)
August 21, 2020
My first Dean’s Update was entitled, “The Beginning.” This is my last Dean’s Update, but it is in no way “The End.” The past six months have certainly not been the ending to my time at TUJ that I had expected, but that’s OK, my life has not been what I expected.
I come from a small town in rural Maine and if anyone had told me when I was growing up that I’d spend all my professional life in universities, most of my adult life in Japan, be president of a Japanese university and dean of TUJ, I’d have told them they were crazy. But life can be amazing if you let it. The most amazing thing about being dean of TUJ is that it is both the capstone of my career, and the best job I’ve ever had. After a lifetime in Japanese and American universities, I have had the pleasure these last 12 years of leading the only American university, and one of the most global institutions, in Japan.
Those of you who have read my Updates over the years know that I have a strong focus on globalization. When I was a graduate student in the 1970s, the world had been shaped by two devastating world wars within the past 60 years. My classmates at the Fletcher School were the most globally diverse group of people with whom I had ever worked and we were all committed to not repeat the mistakes of the past. Global collaboration and cooperation was the only way to combat the destruction of world wars and environmental collapse.
Resurgent nationalism and the COVID-19 pandemic have certainly slowed acceptance of globalization as a reality; it is difficult to get people to identify as global citizens above all else. But I remain an optimist for two reasons. First, the ever-increasing development of communication, transportation, and information technologies will continue to make the world a smaller and more interconnected place; there is no going back. And second, there are those who understand that, and will create the social, political, cultural and economic matrixes to harness technological advances to create a more humane world for all.
That’s why I have worked in universities for 44 years and that’s why I love TUJ so much. It is not just that it brings together the society and culture of my birth and my adopted society and culture. It is because TUJ is one of the rare places, like the Fletcher School in 1974, where I see people from so many globally diverse backgrounds applying themselves to learn from each other what life is and what life can be. Life is not a continuum, a flat line from point A to point B, life is a trajectory, and if you truly understand others, if you support others, if you work with and for others, their lives will improve and your life will improve. It is pretty simple; do good to do well.
There is an old saying for people who like to hike in the woods, “See it as it is, leave it as it was.” I’d like to think that TUJ is a little better than it was in 2008, but I’d be a fool to believe that was because of me. There are many reasons for TUJ’s success, but the most important reason is the faculty and staff who have worked to make it a success. It is an honor to have worked with those in Tokyo and Philadelphia who have sacrificed during the hard days, enjoyed the good days, and always done their best to make TUJ the leading institution of higher education, the model institution of global education that it has become.
Finally, as I go back to Maine and into retirement, I love the feeling of not knowing what will happen next, but knowing that whatever it is, it will continue my personal trajectory. In the same way, I leave with a light heart because I know that Matt Wilson, the next dean, will take over from where I left off and continue TUJ’s positive trajectory.
With best regards,