October 15, 2021
Greetings from the Keio University president's office.
It has been almost five months since I started working as Keio’s president on May 28, 2021. At that time, Tokyo’s third state of emergency due to the pandemic (April 25—June 20) was in place, and though there was a brief reprieve after June 21 when the situation was downgraded to “priority measures to prevent the spread of infections,” three weeks later the fourth state of emergency was declared, lasting from July 12 to September 30. For me personally, every day I felt like I was on a dizzying rollercoaster ride. However, with the Fall Semester now smoothly under way, I would like to take the opportunity to start this serialization, which I have dubbed “Notes from the President’s Office.” My goal is to give a monthly report on the general affairs and happenings at Keio University, and I would be delighted if you could find the time to take a look. With this first installment covering information from the last 5 months, it will be a bit longer than those to come, but as it is filled with good news, I hope that you will bear with me.
As a part of Keio’s efforts to control COVID-19 infections, vaccinations for approximately 50,000 people were completed on the Mita campus from June 21 to September 3 and again on September 15, under the planning and execution of Professor Yuko Kitagawa, Provost and Vice-President (Medical and Clinical Affairs), with both medical and administrative staff from across the Keio campuses.
As shown in this report and this video, approximately 80% of Keio’s faculty, staff, and students have been fully vaccinated, with vaccinations also extended to families of faculty and staff members (including part-time employees), contractors, and affiliated company staff working on campus. In total, we provided vaccinations to approximately 35,000 people associated with the university. In addition, we provided vaccinations at the request of about 15,000 people with links to other universities, including faculty, staff members and students from 14 universities + 1 related institution; students who plan to study abroad, medical trainees, and sports club members from 30 different universities (both public and private); as well as university students and working adults who applied through MEXT’s “Vaccination Support Program for Persons Planning to Study Abroad.” The video that Professor Kitagawa and I released on June 9 in anticipation of these workplace vaccinations seems to have been well-received and achieved its intended purpose, and the initiative was even mentioned by the then-Minister of Education, Koichi Hagiuda (beginning around the 8-minute mark, Language: Japanese) at a press conference on June 18.
Furthermore, under the supervision of Vice-President Eiji Okada (Crisis Management), the university was able to establish a system for providing free, on-demand PCR testing to faculty, staff, and students as well as a follow-up system to care for those who tested positive. The close coordination across these initiatives, from screening to vaccination and medical care systems, mean we are now able to resume education and research at the university with peace of mind. For this reason, I would like to express my unending gratitude to those at the Keio University School of Medicine, the Faculty of Nursing and Medical Care, Keio University Hospital, the Graduate School of Health Management, the Health Centers, the Student Counseling Room, and other medical institutions with which Keio has ties that have extended a helping hand and lent us their support throughout this process. I also offer my sincere appreciation to Keio’s medical faculty, staff, and alumni for their considerable cooperation, and to the various government ministries and agencies that gave us this opportunity to create such an extensive workplace vaccination campaign.
This response to the COVID-19 pandemic has had many positive repercussions in the lives of Keio students. The endeavors of Vice-President Motohiro Tsuchiya (Global Engagement) and the Office of Student Services ensured that many Keio students were able to travel overseas for study abroad programs. And even during the 4th State of Emergency (July 12—September 30), Vice-President Yoshimitsu Matsuura (Academic Affairs) worked together with the Office of Student Services so that face-to-face classes and semester-end examinations could proceed as planned. Furthermore, due to the efforts of Vice-President Akiyo Okuda (Student Affairs), Vice-President Keita Yamauchi (Athletic Association), the Office of Student Services, and the Athletic Association, officially authorized student organizations (sports teams, student clubs, etc.) were able to continue their activities. What’s more, even while infections increased dramatically throughout Tokyo during the fifth wave of COVID-19 in August, infection numbers at Keio University actually decreased!
I am extremely proud of these results as they illustrate the personal responsibility demonstrated by each and every one of the Keio students in taking precautions against infections. This turnaround in infection numbers meant we were able to hold various events, including the September Graduate & Undergraduate Commencement Ceremonies, Entrance Ceremonies, and even a special gathering for students who were admitted in April of 2020 and are now in their second year. I was delighted to partake in the joy imparted by the many smiling Keio students finally gathered for their “Entrance Ceremony,” after a one and a half year delay, on a day blessed with clear weather at the Hiyoshi Commemorative Hall. Dividing into three sessions by faculty and graduate school, Vice-President Kotaro Yamagishi (42:20 of the linked recording), Vice-President Yoshimitsu Matsuura (44:08 of the linked recording), and Vice-President Juro Iwatani (42:45 of the linked recording) delivered beautiful speeches to each group of students. Keio also celebrated The 100th Anniversary Ceremony and Symposium (Japanese) for the Keio University Hospital, Keio School of Medicine alumni association (Sanshikai), and Keio Medical Society.
The last five months have also seen much progress in the domain of research infrastructure across Keio University. Vice-President Masayuki Amagai (Institutional Research) and Professor Toru Takebayashi of the School of Medicine and Graduate School of Health Management acted together with 14 graduate school deans to create the “Nurturing of Doctoral Students who will Map the Grand Designs for Future Society Program,” intended to promote cross-specialization research opportunities and interdisciplinary collaboration among Keio University Doctoral students (for students who have completed the MA portion of their degree and are enrolled in a Ph.D. program.) This initiative was subsequently chosen by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) as a part of their “Support for Pioneering Research Initiated by the Next Generation” program.
There are approximately 1,250 doctoral students at Keio University in any given year. Now, with the adoption of this program, around 260 of these students will be paid yearly stipends of 2.2 million yen for living expenses and between 300,000 to 1 million yen towards research expenses for a three-year period, and will engage with the design of future society as global citizens using cross-disciplinary approaches. In addition, Professor Makoto Arita of the Faculty of Pharmacy, was selected as the research director of ERATO, a large-scale research project under JST, and will lead the Lipidome Atlas project (Japanese). ERATO’s research director is only chosen from researchers with global-level profiles and it is a great source of pride that the organization’s headquarters will now be established at Shiba-Kyoritsu Campus’s Faculty of Pharmacy. An array of other research initiatives and results are also included on Keio’s website here.
Many notable highlights of Keio’s athletic prowess can be found on the Athletic Association’s Homepage (Japanese), including details of Keio Baseball Club’s first overall victory (Japanese) in the Japan National Collegiate Baseball Championship in 34 years, Keio students winning the Women’s Singles, Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles (Japanese) at the All-Japan Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament, and other such achievements. Finally, of course, we had Tokyo 2020.
As described in the article, “The Close of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games'' on Keio’s website, a total of 10 Keio students and alumni participated and gave their all during Tokyo 2020, with Hiroki Muto's bronze medal in the Men’s team archery event and Ryota Yamagata’s selection as captain of Japan’s Olympic Team serving as particular highlights. Keio University also hosted both Team GB and ParalympicsGB for pre-games training camps at the Hiyoshi Campus; while the Keio University Hospital was in charge of medical care and emergency response at the National Olympic Stadium. Meanwhile, the Keio Medical Team trained on counterterrorism and disaster preparedness, and we are now primed with the essential know-how to host international events at Hiyoshi Campus even under a pandemic, through hosting the British teams. These experiences greatly enhanced Keio University's ability to respond to future crises. In other related news, Professor Hiroya Tanaka of the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, designed the Olympic medal podium (Japanese) using a 3D printer, and Shohei Matsukawa, associate professor of the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, oversaw algorithmic design at Tokyo’s 2020 NIPPON Festival (Japanese). You can look forward to learning more details in a special edition of Mita-hyoron (official monthly journal published by Keio University Press.)
Turning to global affairs, Keio University placed 56th in the World in the QS Graduate Employability Rankings. In addition, Keio University’s Institute for Advanced Biosciences (IAB) co-hosted the Japan Biology Olympiad (Japanese) held in Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture, which also serves in selection of Japan’s National Team for the International Biology Olympiad. Even amidst the pandemic, Keio has actively pursued international exchange holding events such as the ongoing Keio-Stanford Webinars, and KMD and University College London Online Symposiums.
And these are just some of the many highlights of the goings-on at Keio University. In July, the Fukuzawa Yukichi Memorial Keio History Museum opened to the public in the Mita Campus’s Old University Library.
“It is no exaggeration to say that, rather than the history of the internal matters of a single private school, the content on display here ultimately recounts the very history of modern Japan’s struggles.Moreover, this cannot be characterized as a history without incident but as one replete with setbacks.Learning about the history of Fukuzawa Yukichi and Keio University’s progress is sure to impart perspectives which reflect Japanese modernity in a multifaceted and vividly real manner.” —From the Keio History Museum’s Website