From student lockers and faculty pens to the most suitable spaces in Tokyo, Facilities and General Affairs sees to it that Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) has them all. Student writer Adio Alexander interviewed Kiyomi Hirooka, manager of Facilities and General Affairs.
”Mistakes are not allowed.”
Like the name suggests, the main job of Facilities is to manage TUJ’s facilities. This includes the school buildings, dormitories and housing for temporary visiting faculty. They are responsible for property and asset management, dormitory, room bookings and any purchase requests. They do lease and rent negotiations, provide office supplies, and issue certificates for the discount on student commuter passes. Hirooka oversees this wide range of activities, and oversees the Test Center. “There can be no mistakes. Mistakes are not allowed.” stressed Hirooka. Errors in rent negotiations, for example, can cause a lot of financial damage, and the burden inevitably falls on the shoulders of students. To prevent this from happening, Hirooka works very carefully to ensure there are no inaccuracies.
Space, space, and space
As part of their job is also handling general affairs, Facilities regularly interfaces with TUJ departments, faculty and students. They oversee all of TUJ, an aspect Hirooka finds particularly rewarding about his work. This oversight comes with many unique challenges too, however. One example is that up to now, TUJ has been a university operating in office buildings, which presents complications such as usage and spatial limitations. When the number of students increases, Facilities must search for classroom space as well as more dorm rooms to accommodate the students. Dorm rooms are particularly difficult as the number of students tend to fluctuate, so adjustments must be made each semester to match the number of rooms to the expected number of occupants.
Here from the Start
Kiyomi Hirooka has been a part of TUJ since its founding in 1982, making him the oldest employee. Before coming to TUJ, he worked as a developer for local industry promotion, but he wanted to be challenged and do something he has never done before. More than anything, he wanted to make a contribution to society. When he heard an American university was coming to Tokyo, he was immediately interested. TUJ was the challenge he was looking for. Over the past 35 years, the most impressive thing Hirooka has witnessed is the change in the public perception of TUJ. In 1982, TUJ was greatly misunderstood by the Japanese community, in particular, the education sector. TUJ had very little relationship with other universities in Japan. Now TUJ is not only accepted and approached by other Japanese universities but has been legally designated as a “Foreign University, Japan Campus” by MEXT since 2005. Hirooka emphasized the attitude towards TUJ has turned to “warm and loving” over time. When he’s not negotiating contracts for facilities on behalf of TUJ, Hirooka might be found walking along the Tone River or hiking up small mountains during his vacation.
The Future of TUJ
In Fall 2019, TUJ will move to a bona fide school building, sharing the campus of Showa Women’s University (SWU) in Sangen-jaya. Over the past three or four years, Hirooka has worked with the staff of SWU to secure this move, but he seeks to go beyond the boundaries of the new campus and develop a close relationship between the local community of Sangen-jaya and the very international Temple University, Japan Campus. “TUJ isn’t moving to just a new building, but a new community,” explained Hirooka.
Thanks to the collective endeavors of the Facilities team and others, TUJ students and faculty can look forward to a future in a new and improved university environment, something that they have been looking forward to for a long time.
By Adio Alexander
Adio is a sophomore international business studies major at TUJ, interested in specializing in economics and world trade. She is trilingual — English, Japanese and Mandarin — and hopes to be able to speak five languages by 2020. In her free time, she enjoys dancing and watching old films.