[Interview] Professor, Chuo University Nakamura, Shin No. 3
Is there a need for specialization between national and private universities today? Industry-oriented private universities and the national universities focusing on fundamental sciences.
Okada: I'm going to change the subject now. Chuo University is a private institution. The government is about to reduce the management expenses grants for national universities. What are your thoughts from the perspective of someone who works in a private university on the role of national and private universities?
Nakamura: I think private universities tend to focus more on fields that are closer to industries. On the other hand, national universities and national research institutions are blessed with an environment in which they are able to spend a generous percentage of their budgets on fundamental sciences. For example, experiments at KEK using the accelerator could not be conducted in private universities in Japan. Another example would be the National Institute of Polar Research, which specializes in studies of the South Pole. They have a specialty that is difficult for private universities to address. I hope that national universities will continue to fulfill such roles.
Nagayama: My impression is that private universities focus more heavily on education, and the national universities assume the core role in research.
Nakamura: That may be partially true at present. However, what I find interesting is the case of the United States. Most well-known universities in the U.S. are private institutions. Princeton, Stanford, Caltech, MIT, and Harvard are all vigorously pursuing fundamental research. I wonder what the difference is. In Japan, national universities are prone to be stronger in many aspects, including the scale of the institution. Thus, I think that national universities assume the important role of advancing fundamental sciences.
Be free in drawing the map of your life. Students, come study at SOKENDAI.
Okada: Could you give some advice or inspirational message to our students and youths in general?
Nakamura: Don't be too caught up in what society deems to be common sense. It is important to be sincere and serious in some sense, but you don't need to "behave nicely" or as expected. Your life is not necessarily the same as what is written in other people's books of life. So I hope that you draw the map of your life without getting caught up in what is perceived to be common sense.
I am guessing some of you will join companies, but if you aspire to be a researcher, I think SOKENDAI offers a valuable career path. SOKENDAI has a special standing among Japanese graduate schools and has an atmosphere that makes it easy for people to join in from other fields. Presence of many research centers is another feature. In that sense, I hope that SOKENDAI becomes more widely known. I would also like you to know that you will be able to flourish at SOKENDAI.
Okada: Thank you for your participation today. We look forward to your continued success.
Nakamura: Thank you.