"Just watch the first and second year. It will be a wonderful change for our university." A few days ahead of president Oh Young-kyo inauguration, this was the comment that one of the school officials made. President Oh became the 16th president of DongGuk University(DGU) on March in 2007. At the same time, he stated his '108 project' which is a plan to make DGU the best private university in Korea. According to his ambitious plan, there will be remarkable changes. As part of this plan, he had a global vision to increasing the number of sister universities associated with DGU. He initiated the program to evaluating the official's performance last year. He also started to reveal course evaluation to the public, reorganize the school system and change the University Image(UI) this year. Although President Oh has been at the job only for one year, lots of programs are now in operation; and the students are skeptical about its outcomes. What will be the progress of the Industry-Academic Cooperation Foundation and when will the dormitories be constructed? What will be the additional practical uses for the DGU's campus estate? Let's check out the progress of his '108 project' for DGU.
Part 1. The Present & Future Of President Oh's '108 Project'
At the time when President Oh was inaugurated, the main policy of his 108 project was in 5 parts: making the best educational environment, globalization for the school, innovation of the management system, expansion of the school's finances, and a vision for hospital management. Let's look at the specific projects that President Oh has promoted during his first year in office.
The Projects That Are Completed
The following is a summary of the projects that were completed:
1)Education: Opening course evaluation to the public and remodeling of the campus buildings.
Opening course evaluation to the public began this semester. It is helpful for students to choose courses based on course evaluation. In this project, students participate twice a semester on-line.
Campus Planning Department is remodeling the campus buildings. The renovation of Dongguk Hall began last year and was completed this March. Manhea Hall construction is also completed.
2)Management: The Reorganization of DU's management system, introducing CS management and conversation with President Oh on line began in April and May, 2007. This integrated system is capable of developing open communication between students and the School Authority. However, many students are silent and indifferent and this integrated communication cannot function without active student participation. So, it is necessary to get students involved.
3)Globalization: Creating of more sister university associations and increasing the number of the exchange students.
Although students are generally happy that there will be more sister universities and more opportunities for exchange program, they are also concerned that the courses they can take are limited in the sister universities. Some of the more prominent universities will only offer a limited selection of subjects for exchange students. For example Oxford Universities will only accept exchange students for Physics and Buddhist Studies. Also the sister universities are not evenly distributed around the world. For example, there is only one sister university in Canada.
4)Innovation: Changing UI
With the intention of creating a new DGU image and using this as a base for a new farsighted educational program, DGU changed UI in May 2008. It was necessary to change DGU's UI to improve public relations and provide a new image for the university. After changing UI, the school atmosphere has improved.
Projects In Progress
Let's look at the plan to build dormitories and the Industry-Academic Cooperation Foundation. This is part of a long-term plan and because of its complex nature, the progress of these projects is slower than others.
One of the officials for Campus Construction Planning said that the plan for building dormitory has a problem regarding the approval of the environmental impact assessment. The plan also requires negotiating compensation money between the residence who live near the dormitory site and the school authority. So, it may take a long time to solve this problem.
2)Industry-Academic Cooperation Foundation
A participant of Industry-Academic Cooperation Foundation told our university that like other universities in Korea, short on research, we are short of an industrial base. The main purpose of this foundation is to raise the competitive nature of the society to make DGU the prominent university in Korea through the connection of industry, school and the community, for creating synergy. This project is long-term and demands our interest.
Part 2. the hidden other side of reformation
DGU has got a lot of plans to make a university which offers better services to students than before and a few plans have already done. Did they make the university more efficient? Many people are already complaining about two items from the president's plan. The post deals with these two recent controversies over the opening course evaluations to the public and Restructuring Departments.
Opening course evaluations to the public
DGU was the first university to open course evaluations to the public which happened at the beginning of the semester. The president said it is expected to improve the quality of the lectures Opening course evaluations to the public is in 4 steps as follows. 1) Academic Support draws up the evaluation forms. 2) Students must complete the questionnaire. 3) Three evaluation forms are completed ( Reflection Rate 20:30:50 ), and Academic Support aggregates and evaluates the results. 4) They then open the results of course evaluations to the public.
According to the president, they are very effective methods to enhance the quality of lectures, but there are many problems with the course evaluations. First of all, people doubt that the evaluation forms are really able to reflect the actual quality of professors‘ lectures. Basically, a few questions cannot reflect the quality of a lecture because we cannot express the quality of a lecture in just a few sentences. Some lectures are better than others in some parts but we cannot give a grade on each parts. Second, DGU decides how to open and what to open without the professor's input. Finally, even if the questionnaire reflects perfectly the quality of lectures, there could be problems with the respondents who do not pay enough attention to the questionnaire and respond inattentively. Many students attach small importance to the public profit. Many students are not serious about giving accurate evaluation, so the course evaluation is unreliable. The university and the professor have different points of view. Let's look into each side.
-Interview with Donggukian
(A professor's point of view)
Q: Why do professors resist opening course evaluations to the public?
A: We think it is not a democratic process for the president to decide plans arbitrarily. He said DGU must regard students as the customers but he does not discuss with students and professors whether things are of any practical use or not. This way of procedure is not mandatory but it is a democratic way.
Q: Is there a problem with course evaluation? If there is, tell me about it.
A: DGU forced the opening course evaluations to the public without understanding the Korean university system. There was no discussion on how much the present evaluations accurately estimates the quality of the lectures. Opening course evaluations to the public with a lack of preparation drives away scholastic professors and creates a rebellious spirit among the professors at DGU. Students give better scores to the professors who give easy grades.
(Kim Young-hun, The Academic Affairs)
Q :Why did DGU decide to open course evaluations to the public without the agreement of their professors?
A :As research material(course evaluation) belong to DGU, it does not need an agreement from professors to open the material to the public. According to DGU research, 90% of the students want to open evaluations to the public. In conclusion, it is good for students and DGU because the quality of lectures will be improved.
Q: Do you think the present course evaluations accurately represent the quality of the professors' lectures?
A: The course evaluations have been around a long time since 1995. They have been verified enough so we can trust them.
DGU has been changed in many ways by president's efforts to remodel parts of the university, such as school management and education administration. There was a recent controversy over the entrance quota management system. It is the system to manage the allowable number of enrolled students by grade, such as the college entrance exam scores(15), the entrance competitive rate(5), the attending college rate(40), the percentage of employment(25) and the number of graduates per professor(15). The controversy with the system is that departments will be abolished if they rank in the low scores 3 times continuously. DGU already has constructed a task force to select departments that must reduce the number of enrolled students allowed by synthesizing the student evaluations over the last three years. DGU already informed eight departments (the mechanical engineering department, the philosophy department, the department of sociology, the physics department and the department of mathematics) that they have to reduce a total of 36 students allowed to enroll in their departments beginning this semester. The new entrance quota will have been applied at the end of May according to Ministry of Education & Science Technology
According to president we can benefit from competition but a university is not an enterprise. The university is an educational organization for the advancement of academic abilities and does not exist solely for career advancement. The president said students are our customers so DGU have to consider them but does not discuss the restructuring at departments with students or professors.
This issue also has two sides, the university's opinion and that of the students. Let's consider each view.
-Interview with Donggukian
(Lee Hyeong-geun, Chief of the College of Engineering)
Q: Why did you demonstrate against restructuring departments?
A: You can call it a demonstration but we are just showing ourselves as active students at DGU. We just wondered how each department will be scored and why the mechanical engineering department and the electrical engineering department got low score but DGU won't tell us.
Q :Do you have an objection about DGU's opinion that Restructuring departments will improve our competitiveness?
A: On the contrary, Restructuring departments makes DGU a vocational school. DGU's competitive power will decrease with the unification of various department because alumni associations will not be able to concentrate their efforts. I don't think DGU is looking far ahead into the future.
(Kim Young-hun, The Academic Affairs)
Q: Why do you think the restructuring of departments improves DGU's competitiveness?
A: If you want to change your major, the reason is either the low competitive power or the major being not suited to your personality. If there is a low demand for a major, then we must reduce the number of students to be efficient. The way to do this is to restructure departments and this will finally give DGU competitive power over others.
Q: Some criticize that the university's role is for studies of higher academics and is not vocational. What do you think?
A :Restructuring departments exists for DGU, we do not want to abolish minor department, we just want to improve department's power then they will be competitive. They have to improve their standards, because reducing the number of enrolled students is a kind of pressure on them.
Part 3. Changes we can believe in (Opinions of student council presidents)
College of Liberal Art
“We know the changes and the reorganization of the school system is necessary. The college is not just a school for training for entering a profession, and it is also where students pursue their study in the truest sense of the word. The school system is being re-organized to increase student employment after graduation, but I don't think students believe this re-organization will work. Of course, we agree with the president Oh's idea that the university should develop talented students who will become future leaders for society but the president of university should also guarantee basic studies. The school authority must consider seriously what the university should really do for the our society,” said Choi Jae-hee, the president of Student Council of College of Liberal Art
College of Social Science
Lee Eun-ji, the president of Student Council of College of Social Science commuted as follows.
"The School Authority(SA) pushed the reorganization on students without notice or regard to students' opinions even though the students are main part of this university. After the inauguration of the president last year, student's opinions have not been well received. The university exists for students, not for school officials. Reorganization must be done with the support of all Donggukians. DGU innovation gives competitive power to the university but I don't think it is what they really want. Still, there are many crowded classes which have over 100 students and in order to reduce personnel expenses, our school depends too much on part-time lecturers I think that the efforts to improve the quality of lectures must continue in order to achieve real competitive power."
College of Engineering
Lee hyung-Keun, the president of Student of Council of College of Engineering, said, "The SA claims that they think students are customers and they can solve any problems students might have, but they do not accept the opinions of the students and make decisions on their own. For example, they increased tuition fees, without discussion with students first, an obvious disregard for their customers. If they think that students are their real customer, they will discuss issues more and listen to what the students say."
College of Education
Kim Jeong-tae, the president of Student Council of College of Education said, "It is clearly wrong that the reorganization of the school system was so one-sided. The president believe private school is like a business enterprise, and students are its customers. If SA really believes that students are their customers, then they should give customers what they really want and the services that they need. Above all, I hope SA is willing to accept students's opinions."
College of Science
Kim Chul, the president of Student Council of College of Science said "The university must throw away its unilateral attitude. SA have to help each department to develop its own competitiveness. When they set up the university's plan, they held conferences to communicate with students.
I think it is in our best interests to employ at least one foreign professor in each department. I also hope that they will offer an acceptable plans for all Donggukians"
There have been a lot of changes and reorganization at DGU since president Oh's has been inaugurated. Some of them are being favorably received by Donggukians while others are not. Many students don't like the changes and reorganization because there were no discussions with student and the changes are not what they really wanted. Some Donggukians, both students and faculty, criticize that the changes as superficial, arguing that SA overlooked their primary role. President Oh's big ideas that DGU must change to offer talent required by our society are good, but SA should reconsider whether it is right to make changes without listening to the voices of the students.
College is a place where views from the Student Council should be reflected in the management of the school. In the process of reorganizing the school system, however, the SA seemed to show its dictatorial attitude by making unilateral decisions and ignoring the differing views from Donggukians.
Last month, DGU changed the University Image(UI) for the 102nd anniversary. It was one of the reorganization strategies for recovering the school's reputation. The project to reorganize still has organizational issues. All Donggukians want to develop DGU. If there were democratic communications for changes between students, School Authority and the faculty, DGU would move forward to realize its goal of reorganization and development.
Kim Na-eun firstname.lastname@example.org
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