Kim Sun-uk was appointed the 14th president of Ewha on July 23. Kim majored in Law and graduated from Ewha in 1975 and was the director of Ewha Korean Women’s Institute. Kim first developed the curriculum of women’s studies and taught at the Ewha Law School. Kim received the Republic of Korea Bluebird Order of Civil Merit in 2007 and served as the first female Legislation Minister from 2005 to 2007. Before the termination of her office she verified the judgment range by organizing 424 legislations and 858 legal provisions. She also straightened more than 3,425 wrong administration laws. Ewha Voice held an interview with the president on Sept. 10.
Ewha Voice (EV): How is it being the Ewha president so far?
Kim Sun-uk (Kim): Managing Ewha is a bigger job than I thought it would be. I’m taking time to explore our school and making plans for the future. People have high hopes for change so I’m being especially prudent when making decisions and setting plans.
“Changes in campus”
EV: We heard that right after being inaugurated as the 14th Ewha president, you collected opinions from students in your class this semester. Even in your inaugural address, you emphasized the importance of communication. Do you have any specific plans for enhancing communication?
Kim: We want to offer many opportunities for people to express themselves, from the smallest units, like individuals, to entire colleges. This is necessary when pushing something forward under an administrative system, so we are going to have meetings more frequently from now on.
EV: You also mentioned enhancing research capacity and quality and building a new governance structure. What will you mainly focus on among these three?
Kim: It is hard to see these three separately, but I think “people” are most important. I felt the excessive thirst for communication at Ewha when it’s necessary in such an enormous community. That’s why I’m emphasizing efficient communication so much, and trying to get other people’s suggestions through countless meetings.
“School support students in maximizing their potential”
EV: How will you enhance research capacity and quality?
Kim: We can only achieve our goal of academic excellence when the outcome of research is fed back into the education loop. So we are trying to invite the leading scholars, regardless of age or gender, and create an attractive environment for education. We will provide both financial and emotional support to scholars so they remain at Ewha. The center of a young person’s mindset is to go looking for challenges. We need to encourage then to take risks and challenge themselves without having to be afraid of failure. Here at Ewha, mistakes and errors will be recognized as precious experiences and lessons where students are encouraged not to give up easily. We will constantly design curriculums and programs that encourage and endorse this. Meanwhile, we will equip Ewha students with multi-cultural and multi-lingual capacities so they can compete at the global level.
EV: Students are particularly interested in the scholarship you mentioned that will be available within a year.
Kim: Supporting students with tuition fee exemptions does not make the situation better for students who have financial issues; it does not address the main cause of hardship. We want to start a new kind of scholarship for students who have outstanding academic performance that provides not only tuition fees but also living expenses. Since it will be costly the number of recipients will be small, but eventually after they stand on their own two feet we will encourage them to give back to the scholarship program, and this will create a cycle and grow bigger as time passes.
EV: What would you say is the biggest pro of the Ewha community?
Kim: I would say the Ewha’s values based on Christianity virtues. No matter how fast the world and people’s lifestyle may change, the entrusted mission to dedicate oneself to the society shouldn’t change. This mission is the biggest pro of Ewha and the root of the energies that led to social changes.
“Non Nobis Solum”
EV: How was it being president of the 11th Student Government Association as an Ewha undergraduate.
Kim: The pro-democracy movement was prevalent during the 1970s when I was elected to the student council. Even though students had to risk being arrested, they actively participated in the movement. Kim Ok-gil, the school president at that time, hid students who were in danger of getting caught by the police in the president’s private room. Students and teachers had a broad base of trust between them, which was natural at that time.
EV: Students nowadays are relatively indifferent about social issues and school affairs. Could such passion and initiative arise again?
Kim: Due to the current trend toward being more diverse and multi-cultural, this kind of attitude is predictable but being passive is not a desirable attitude. I hope students express their opinions more courageously and are not afraid to be agents of change. To restore trust between the teaching staff and students, professors should be supportive when students voice their opinions, and both should respect each other.
EV: Any last words?
Kim: I understand life can be hard on you. The unemployment rates are skyrocketing, the future is unclear and each one of you also may have your personal difficulties. But in the spirit of the Latin phrase Non Nobis Solum (not for ourselves alone), I want you to apply yourselves to your studies and overcome these obstacles in an effort to enhance your personal capacities and to consider not only your personal well being but also a social and historical calling. By spreading Ewha’s values – based on the Christian virtues of equality, love, dedication and justice – I wish that Ewha will play a key role in making a better society. Ewha will not stand solely for us alone but will exist for society as a whole.