孫子兵法是一部取勝的哲學大典﹐其首篇是計篇。筆者認為大學成功之道在於計在於謀。要達到大學成功之目標(取勝)﹐必須要有明確的定義﹐策略﹐計劃和時程表。首先我們要把成功作個定義﹐也就是什麼是成功的大學? 如何才算是一個成功的大學? 這個定義多少會見仁見智有不同的想法﹐有了定義再做計劃再訂時間表才會有成就。這是謀略的作法﹐大學成功之道在於有謀略。下面就先談此謀道。
(I) 廣集眾議及思考大學成功之謀道: 討論和擬訂策略﹐計劃和時程表。
遠程該作的項目更多﹐但常會被近程項目阻撓。大學領導者當有遠程眼光與謀道委員會合作不要只做自己一任內能完成的事。遠程的錢道項目最重要的是如何建立大學的基金﹐以求能夠在經營上能獨立自主。其他項目應以學校實際環境和謀道策略而定。比如說﹐ 學校的建設: 系館增建﹐研究中心﹐視聽圖書館﹐教職員學生宿舍﹐餐廳﹐運動場地和設施等等; 學校的環保: 綠化藍圖﹐遠程美化工作﹐現代化能源設備等等; 吸收好學生: 捐助中小學優良學生獎學金之類。
Please see next article in English
NCKU’s Road to Success (成功大學之道)
Ifay Chang, 1963 EE (張一飛)
Creating and maintaining a world-class university is a noble mission but it is an extremely difficult task and there is no set formula to follow. In a previous article written in Chinese, 大學成功之道 (Road for University to Succeed), I have opined ('shamelessly') to comment on some general principles for a university to strive to become a successful first-rate university. That bold action was triggered by my sincere desire to think about my alma mater, Cheng Kung University’s (NCKU) future, as she is striving for becoming a world-class university. In this article, I again boldly write down my thoughts for whatever it is worth and hope it will stimulate other alumni to share their thoughts; so collectively we will benefit our alma mater.
I have used Chinese headings in the paragraphs below since they were triggered while I was writing the previous Chinese article. However, I am switching to English in this article since I have realized that my pin-yin typing skill is simply too counter-productive in conveying my thoughts. So I apologize to my readers who are forced to go through this language change.
大學成功之道與成功大學之道 ( Road To A Successful First-Rate University and NCKU's Road to Become A Successful First-Rate University)
I thought in my previous article, if there was such a road to success, it would be chartered by a good strategy, plan and execution. Hence I called for establishing a 'strategy organization' (謀道委員會) within the university for the sole purpose of plotting a winning strategy (謀道) for her to strive to become a world-class university. In this winning strategy, it must have absorbed many good ideas (proposed or flushed out) and have rallied a broad base support from all stake-holders of the university, that include faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni and friends of the university. To accomplish this, the university leadership and the 'strategy organization' must listen to all inputs that are offered to help the university to achieve her goal. The 'Money Road' (錢道) and the 'Mind Road' (心道) discussed in the previous article will be referred to in this article.
My previous article and this one are simply written as one input from one alumnus. I am sure there will be more to come which will be beneficial to our alma meta. I am merely focusing on a few specific points for now and I hope other discussions will surface once idea exchanges are started.
南北道與北南道 (Broadening the Path of North to South Versus South to North)
I am referring North as Taipei. Taipei has the geographical and population advantage, being the location of the central government and nearest city to the Taipei International Airport. There are more businesses and universities there hence more talents in the North. Tainan city is in a disadvantageous position in South Taiwan and so is NCKU situated in Tainan. It was natural Northern Taiwan had dominated almost everything in the past half century. Although, the central government has a desire to accelerate the development in the South, However, Cheng Kung University must carve out its own path to success not waiting for the Southern Regional Development to mature. In fact, it is my opinion that the success of the Southern Regional Development program depends on the success of NCKU in becoming a world-class university. So the burden is really on NCKU.
As a strategy, NCKU must broaden the road from North to South to accommodate more traffic from North to South than the flow of traffic currently overwhelmingly from South to North. Here I am not talking about the highway (although the South-bound freeway needs to be improved), I am referring to people flow, business flow and visitor flow, especially intellectuals. Although, this is a chicken and egg situation, NCKU must find ways to hatch the egg. So, how can NCKU improve the flow from North to her? Here, both 'Money Road' (錢道) and 'Mind Road' (心道) must be explored.
As part of 'Money Road' strategy and task, NCKU must do more PR and promotion to draw the flow to her and the South from the North. For example, from Taipei railroad station all the way to Tainan station, NCKU must invest to display clear bi-lingual direction signs to lead people easily to NCKU. Similarly on the Freeway, frequent signs in bi-lingual language pointing to NCKU's direction should be installed. Proper signs for NCKU should also be clearly established in the airports as well. This seems to be a small matter but it is symbol for attitude. This investment will go a long way to establish NCKU to be recognized as a first-rate university. In fact, NCKU van or bus should be available at the railroad station and airport to bring NCKU's visitors and return staff to campus with regular schedule with no charge or a minimum charge. The purpose is to make people not only recognize NCKU but realize it is easy to visit NCKU and do business with NCKU. These visitors include scholars, businessmen, parents of NCKU students and of course the NCKU faculty, staff, alumni and prospective high school and college students. The attitude must be NCKU welcomes visitors and is open for comparison.
The university must make effort to attract more international and national academic, cultural and business conferences to be held on NCKU campuses. This will require some infrastructure which will be discussed in paragraphs below. The above PR investment along with the fact that NCKU campus is more spacious, parking is more convenient compared to Taipei and accommodations are more hospitable can help NCKU to increase the flow from North to South.
As a university striving for world-class status, NCKU must be mindful of her image. Many things should be done as part of 'Mind Road'. For example, local dialect should be discouraged on campus. Mandarin should be emphasized on campus. The university must cultivate her faculty and students to have a world-class university attitude and behavior. On campus, Most faculty and students probably are bi-lingual (that is Mandarin and English); they should be encouraged rather than discouraged in conferences, meetings and classrooms. All university road signs and buildings signs should have English (perhaps this may be already done). NCKU should encourage students and faculty to serve as bilingual interpreters whenever occasions call for, for example, in hosting international visitors.
Perhaps CKU has already been aware of the need to broaden the road from 'North to South', the simple example discussed above merely indicate the serious underlying issue which is a strategic one. Under the guidance of the 'Strategy Organization' (謀道委員會), NCKU can continuously address this issue until NCKU succeed and overcome this issue.
東西道與環球道(East and West Versus Around the World)
The industrial and cultural advancement of the West in the last century owe a lot to their successful universities. Naturally, from university interaction point of view, the road has always been East to West. The students in the East would prefer to go to the western universities for further studies; some even started from undergraduate. The faculty and the colleges are all learning from the western colleges from curriculum to infrastructure to organization. NCKU had a collaboration program with Perdue University which was beneficial. However, turning into the new century, things have changed, especially regarding Taiwan's universities. The number of universities have increased and the qualities have improved. The graduate programs have grown significantly. The college education cost in Taiwan is very low relative to the GDP whereas the cost of education in Western universities especially in US universities have increased faster than their cost of living hence making it unattractive for foreign students to attend US universities.
Economically, Taiwan is now able to put more dollars into college education. The fact NCKU is selected as a target university to strive for becoming a world-class university speaks volumes of the government's policy in recognizing the dependency of work force productivity and competitiveness on university education. Now NCKU is mandated to accelerate herself to the world arena of superior university education, what should NCKU do then? First, NCKU must recognize the university interaction is no longer one way from East to West rather it has become a global interaction around the world. This means that NCKU can play a significant role in the world arena by being a key link around the world. The university can formulate a knowledge interaction model (that has already been functioning in global commerce) by considering herself as a significant knowledge trade center, West to East and East to West. Of course there are competitions such as Tokyo University in Japan, many elite universities in Mainland China, Hong Kong University, Singapore University etc etc. However, NCKU can examine its strength and potential to determine what to absorb and export knowledge and technology both ways along the identifiable global belt ways. For instance, absorbing in the biotechnology area and exporting in the fishery farming area is an example fits perfectly in this model. However, more must be explored and promoted in the entire university. This is a challenge on the university leaders.
The above point deserves a little more emphasis. Around the world traveling may someday change to the point by rendering the concept of 'round trip ticket' obsolete, instead adopting the term 'world loop ticket' which flies a particular orbit around the earth with faster and more fuel efficient planes perhaps much less cost. (It is aeronautically and energy efficient by flying with the Earth wind! The seaman recognized that, it is time for airpilots to recognize that.) So it may be wise to strategically select the world-class universities which align with Taiwan along a few Earth loops to cooperate with. In the same token, it may be wise to establish NCKU alumni buildings (成大校親友會館 as part of 'Money Road' project) along the stops of the 'loop ticket'. Therefore, what this story is implying is that it is important to select partners for NCKU, don't just pick randomly.
校友道(Road for Alumni)
If university is a family, then alumni are the big brothers and sisters graduated and left the family. As a family they should never be forgotten. It is almost a golden rule that every successful university has a strong alumni body, well organized and connected to their alma mater. The US Ivy League Schools are notorious for that. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for NCKU to learn the ropes from some of the successful alumni programs. Some of the universities involve their alumni from strategic planning to executing major projects. Alumni's support is not always about donations. Alumni can be NCKU's ambassador to the world, speaking about NCKU news and new achievements. They can be promoters of the university in soliciting prospective students and answering questions. They can be mentors of current students providing real world assessment. They can be interviewers meeting with prospective faculty and student applicants giving their trustworthy opinions. They can be spokesman or spokeswoman for a department or a college in a professional organization surrogating for a busy faculty. Of course they can be very effective fund raisers if they were sold on its cause. The key is NCKU must know how to unite them and encourage them to help the university. Invite them to speak and keep an open mind even there is obvious obstacles for implementation. In my opinion, Alumni can be the most effective change agent if the university leaders are willing to listen to them.
As discussed in my previous article, alumni should be invited to provide input to the 'strategic organization' (謀道委員會), even to serve in that organization. Alumni can be organized to help any of the 'Money Road' (錢道) projects or the 'Mind Road' (心道) projects. The important thing is to build a complete and updated database on alumni so they can be properly informed and timely invited to participate in university affairs. This database plus student and parents database are the treasure of the university.
Nurturing alumni is a long term commitment requiring NCKU to commit resources to the effort. Returns on investment can be huge as evidenced by many successful world-class universities. NCKU must think big and seriously in dealing with alumni. NCKU must use alumni in whichever way to get involved with the university especially in dealing with alumni affairs.
As an alumnus, I am happy that NCKU is inspired to become a world-class university. Chinese has a saying: education is like nurturing a tree to grow to one hundred years old, meaning it is a long and taxing process. NCKU must recognize that her mandate is not achievable in a few years or one or two terms of the Presidency. If NCKU desires to accelerate the process, then the burden is heavy on the 'Strategic Organization' (謀道委員會). NCKU must carve out a new road that can bring her to the world-class university arena.
This new road must have a theme that is leveraging on the existing strength of the university and predicating on a projected course to success. This requires serious soul searching and it is the biggest challenge to the 'Strategic organization' and the university leaders.
To kick the ball rolling, I will venture to suggest a not-yet-baked idea as a theme road for NCKU to success. What if NCKU is destined to become the world's strongest or most advanced Environmental Science and Engineering university in the broadest sense (so to include all departments and colleges if possible)? What if the university sets a goal to transform her campus to be the world's greenest (not political color) or first-rate environmentally friendly campus? What if NCKU is aiming to be a most effectively landscaped campus, most energy efficient, newest recycle technology employed, most effective health maintenance program and services offered and above all the most productive research and development in all aspects of human living environment, culturally and physically? What if the university can rally all colleges and departments to direct their research and teaching with this theme on their high priority list? Just what if the theme is carried out for 5, 10, 15 or more years? Will NCKU be able to carve out a new road to become a unique first-rate university in the world?!
In closing, I just want to say that the above is my personal opinion and the purpose of these articles are intended to draw NCKU colleagues and alumni to think about our university's mandate. I hope with more people willing to help NCKU and expressing their opinion, NCKU will then get the benefit and succeed in her quest in due time.
October 29 , 2008