It has been one year since Ewha’s 16th president, Kim Hei-sook, took office. As she was the first president elected directly by students, staff, and alumni, expectations about her promise of a brighter future for Ewha have been high. To both congratulate her upon her accomplishments and to look over the promises made upon her election, Ewha Voice, The Ewha Weekly, and EUBS conducted a joint interview with President Kim.
As the expectation toward the new administration was high, it also must have been demanding to meet everyone’s expectations. How would you evaluate your first year in office?
The first year has not been easy, since by the time we got used to handling issues within the school, new problems had arisen. Even though it has been a busy year, looking back on when I was first elected, the school has settled some of the most urgent matters such as renewing the trust of school members within the Ewha community.
How much progress has Ewha made on decentralizing the school to respect the diversity and characteristics of each college?
Decentralization attempts in several other universities did not turn out to be successful, so it is a matter that must be taken one small step at a time. It is a necessary change as each college has different needs, but decentralization also runs the risk of excessively expanding administrative oversight. Acknowledging these risks, Ewha is currently working on the matter with seven taskforce teams to reach a form of decentralization that can expand the autonomy of each college or major while also providing tracks that combine different fields of study more suitably with future concerns in mind.
The Communications and Content Planning & Management team has been combined and reorganized from the Office of University Planning and Coordination to the Office of Communications (tentative). What does this change entail?
Promoting Ewha outside the school has been one of the greatest concerns among students. The school has thus decided to handle this matter within the executive office of the president to more effectively address the concerns surrounding this issue. Combining the two offices was necessary as promoting Ewha’s image is a matter that requires proper mediation and creativity.
One of the education policies of your administration was to introduce an absolute grading system, which will be implemented for the first time this semester at the behest of each professor. What is the ultimate goal of this policy?
It has always been heartbreaking to see students studying in a system with such high competition. It is our hope that students will have more freedom to study and realize true learning outside of such rigid grading boundaries. There are, however, possible problematic outcomes from an absolute grading system, which is why we decided to apply it on a trial basis this year. We intend to come up with a better solution to reach a more desirable academic atmosphere based on our findings from this initial trial run.
Students are highly interested in changes regarding scholarship policies. Are there further changes planned with regard to scholarship standards?
Even at times when the school’s financial status was struggling, we have managed to increase the total scholarships granted for students. Although one of the five performancebased scholarships has been abolished, the four others continue to receive funding. There has been an increase in both need- and performance-based scholarships.
We are also planning on implementing a similar system to what is referred to as the “dean’s list” in foreign universities, which honors the academic achievements of students in their transcripts. Since the school is currently in the process of implementing a new grading system, the standard will almost certainly be adjusted once the new grading system has been put into effect.
How would you define Ewha’s role as a women’s university in today’s society?
Whenever society questions the necessity of women’s universities, we will strive to prove that Ewha remains a meaningful institution by developing ourselves in ways that no other university can for their female students. Although the path ahead of us may at times lead to challenges, Ewha will maintain its relevance by distinguishing itself as a university that sets its own course.
President Kim concluded her remarks by hoping for students to take time for self-reflection and for Ewha to always be a place where every student’s potential can bloom.