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President’s message on COVID-19: Unite for a new future with prudence and generosity

Update:2020.06.04

In response to the significance and purpose of the Government’s declaration of a state of emergency on 7 April and the emergency measures by Fukuoka prefecture, Kyutech has been working to prevent the spread of COVID-19, by postponing the start day of the spring semester until 7 May and restricting the entry to campus.

The declaration has been lifted for Fukuoka prefecture on 15 May, and for all the prefectures in Japan on 25 May. However, Fukuoka prefecture requests us to implement thorough prevention measures against the infection for lifting restrictions. University is a place where large number of people gather. At Kyutech, more than 6,000 students, faculty staff and other related people learn and work on its 3 campuses. And Kyutech has been developing campuses with diversity by collaborating with industry and exchanging with domestic and overseas universities. Thus, under the situation that a second wave of COVID-19 should come, Kyutech deems it is necessary to continue infection prevention measures and lift restrictions in phases.

For the 1st quarter, the classes are delivered in remote class and it will continue for the 2nd quarter in principle. But the 2nd quarter, the classes which remote class is not available for, such as experimental and practical work, will be provided in face-to-face class, so please check the notifications from the University. The extracurricular activities will be allowed with implementation of infection prevention measures. About the usage of Kyutech facilities, please refer to the notifications.

Now all the courses of the 1st quarter (275 courses in undergraduate and 104 in graduate school) are delivered in remote class. This is the first time for Kyutech to provide remote classes on such a large scale, so the University conducted a questionnaire to ask students about how much they are satisfied with the internet access environment and remote class. Among 3,090 answers as of 26 May, about 60% of students are “very satisfied” or “satisfied”, and 8% or less are “not satisfied”. The University will continue improving, and opinions and requests are welcomed. Please e-mail to Academic Support Section of Student Affairs Division.

This difficult time can be an opportunity to have interest in various issues, and to learn and think through about them. First, let me think about viruses. It is anticipated that the fight against the novel coronavirus will be prolonged and we will have to coexist with the virus. The only infectious disease eliminated by human being is smallpox which WHO declared the eradication in 1980. In Japan, there is a novel about the doctor who contributed to disseminate smallpox vaccination in Edo era*[1]. And, (this is shocking but) it is said that some of our human genes are derived from viruses, but on the other hand, humans are able to form placenta thanks to the virus-derived genes*[2]. Viruses, tiny and no cells, are diverse in kinds and there are many of them which characteristics remain to be elucidated. To live in such world, cautiousness and prudence counts more than bravery*[3].

Then let me talk about another topic, ICT. Under the spread of COVID-19, more and more activities are conducted online. Remote class you are taking is one of them. British economic magazine The Economist points out; by ICT, “Distance is dead. Long live location” *[4]. Now, we are restricted from travelling and need to make each other’s distance “dead” by network technology. Our way of life will drastically change. It is essential to understand such technology and to have imagination and empathy about a new world which technology will realize.

Lastly, I would like to reintroduce a phrase from the inaugural address of the 41st president of the United States, George H. W. Bush, which I have introduced in my new year’s greetings of 2019; “In crucial things, unity; in important things, diversity; in all things, generosity.” In this time of difficulty, it is important to be united, not divided nor isolated, and to share knowledge among various people with different opinions and senses.

Even in this situation, Kyutech is going to implement high-quality activities for education, research and social contribution, with prioritizing the security of the students, faculty staff, and related parties. The restrictions will be lifted in phases with evaluation of situations and prudent decision. Your understanding and cooperation are highly appreciated, and please take good care of yourselves. I’m looking forward to seeing the campus full of your energy.


Yuji Oie
President
Kyushu Institute of Technology


[1] “Snow Flower” by Akira Yoshimura 吉村 昭「雪の花」新潮文庫刊
[2] “Virolution” by Frank Ryan
[3] For example, the following line said by Falstaff in Shakespeare’s play Henry IV, Part 1, is interesting;
“The better part of valour is discretion; in the which better part I have saved my life.”
[4] “The Economist: Megachange: The world in 2050” by The Economist


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