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Address from the Sixth Dean

 

Address from the Sixth Dean of the Graduate School, YPUHS 

Japanese version

I have been the Dean of our Graduate School for four years since April 2016 (Heisei 28), but I have chosen to end my service in that role at the end of March 2020 (Reiwa 2). I would like to thank all of you for your support and encouragement during these wonderful years. 
Looking back, I find I made the following statement in “Our 10 years History in the Area of Occupational Therapy, Graduate School of Health Sciences, Yamagata Prefectural University of Health Sciences” issued on July 7, 2014 (Heisei 26). "Our next goal in the Area of Occupational Therapy, which is now in its eleventh year, is to collaborate with other graduate schools to publish novel and original research results and to establish a doctoral program." On January 1, 2015 (Heisei 27), I authored the "University Mission" and greeted the beginning of the year on behalf of the Department of Occupational Therapy. At the end of that statement, I concluded, "If developing a true leader is our university's mission, a doctoral program is necessary for our university. This year, we want to be on our way!" 
At that time, I was serving as vice chair of our graduate school curriculum review committee, and was collecting various information supporting establishment of the Graduate School Doctoral Course. On April 10, 2015 (Heisei 27), I visited the Planning Division Manager of the Yamagata Prefecture Health and Welfare Department (PDMYPHWD), and talked with the Dean of our Graduate School and the Secretary-General at the time about the necessity of our doctoral program. Initially, we aimed at establishing a doctoral program in rehabilitation, which combined physical and occupational therapy. However, at the time, it was decided to proceed with one graduate school and one major in health care including the area of nursing. On August 11 of the same year, Hirosaki University's Director of Educational Reform Promotion presented a lecture on "Current and Future of Graduate School Curriculum." Then, we started preparations to apply to the Council for Establishment of University and School Corporation of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in March 2016. We were preparing while checking the progress of each month. Because there was no specific response to the establishment of the doctoral program from PDMYPHWD, we were worried about the work. 
I was elected as a member of the Board of President Selection Committee at our Education and Research Council on October 14, so I joined the Department Head of Occupational Therapy and preparation for a doctoral program, as well as other tasks related to the selection of the President. On November 11, the first President Selection Meeting was held. The candidates for the President were unified by our Management Council and our Education and Research Council on December 9. The candidates were scheduled to be chosen at the second President Selection Meeting. At that time, I believed that the second President Selection Meeting would go smoothly. Therefore, a joint meeting was held between the Department of Physical Therapy and the Department of Occupational Therapy to discuss the composition and names of subjects in each area with our Dean on December 8. 
Nevertheless, the second President Selection Meeting was unsuccessful. Work related to the establishment of the doctoral program was suspended. While rushing around here and there, I was unable to find a landing point and ended the year. On the afternoon of January 7, 2016 (Heisei 28), we interviewed the Health and Welfare Department Medical Supervisor and explained the circumstances prevailing at the time. The direction was identified. The work related to the establishment of a doctoral program resumed on January 20. From that point, we worked day and night to prepare for the March 18 application. However, time had passed without the opportunity to ask the prefectural governor to establish a doctoral program. 
The application documents for the establishment of the doctoral program were completed in early March by virtue of the efforts of the Secretary-General, the Education Affairs Section Chief, and the Secretariat serving at the time. The only matter left was approval of the governor of Yamagata Prefecture. Nevertheless, even after the Yamagata prefectural assembly had recessed, the application date was approaching quickly, with no access to the governor. Therefore, with the consent of the President at the time, we applied to MEXT. 
From April 2016 (Heisei 28), the Dean of the Graduate School became the President and appointed me as the Dean. The President went to greetings with the prefectural governor in early April to gain an understanding of the application for the establishment of a doctoral program, and obtained her consent. The examination results arrived on May 31, including 13 items of improvement opinions, one item of a request opinion, and one item of other opinion, with a corrected application to be made by June 21. On June 8, we went to MEXT and received specific guidance on the opinions of the judging. During this time, in addition to my usual duties such as an undergraduate lectures and clinical practice visits, graduate master's course lectures, graduate students guidance, and internal committees, I worked diligently to create a corrected application in just three weeks. I remember that as though it were yesterday. 
On August 31, 2016 (Heisei 28), the establishment of our doctoral program was officially approved by MEXT. From that point, we set the schedule and details of the graduate school entrance examination and conducted our first doctoral graduate school entrance examinations of February 4, 2017 (Heisei 29). We were relieved to have five successful applicants for three positions. In addition, the internal committee was overhauled to secure research time for faculty members below the position of associate professor. The Graduate School Committee set up a doctoral research group. 
In April 2017, the long-awaited graduate doctoral education started. With establishment of the doctoral program, the master's program up to that time was changed to the first semester of the doctoral program (two-year program). The graduate school education was to be managed consistently with the second semester of doctoral program (three-year program). Five students (two in the area of nursing and three in the area of occupational therapy) have been enrolled as the first students of the doctoral program. During the year, discussions to clarify the degree examination criteria centered on the Doctoral Research Division. From this year, the schedule for graduate school entrance examinations has been shifted from early September to December. It is now possible to take examinations according to the progress of graduation research that has been made by undergraduate students. 
Since the establishment of the master's program in the graduate school in 2004 (Heisei 16), it has become a habit that we have carried out secondary recruitment without being able to exceed the number of applicants for primary entrance recruitment. However, passing this year's graduate school entrance examination were 17 master's course students (2 in nursing, 6 in physical therapy, 9 in occupational therapy) and 6 doctoral courses (1 in nursing, 5 in occupational therapy). In fact, we were able to recruit successful applicants from three academic area. No secondary recruitment was required. In addition, our graduate school faculty qualifications review committee on October 25, 2018 has established an "Application for Qualification Review of Graduate School Faculty Members". 
In 2018, research results of graduate students began to be published one after another and were published in Clinical Anatomy and Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy. In addition, during the year, we specifically emphasized creation of a guide for application for a degree. The number of principal research advisors in the master's program has increased. Graduate school education has been enhanced. In this year's graduate school entrance examination, 12 master’s course students (3 in nursing, 2 in physical therapy, 7 in occupational therapy) and 3 doctoral course students (1 in nursing, 2 in Occupational Therapy) passed and were announced. 
In 2019, the first year of the Reiwa era marked the completion of the doctoral program. For newly entered graduate students, the first semester of the doctoral program represents the 16th generation of students from the master's program. The second semester of the doctoral program represents the third generation of students. In all, 30 students were enrolled in the master's program (6 in nursing, 8 in physical therapy and 16 in occupational therapy) and 14 in the doctoral program (4 in nursing, 10 in occupational therapy). Students represent a nationwide interest in our programs, coming here to study from Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Yamagata, Miyagi, Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, Kumamoto, and Okinawa. Additionally, from this year, a graduate student was recruited by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and became a research fellow. This year, the first graduates of the doctoral program were granted degrees by the graduate school. Results of their research during the second semester of doctoral program were published and accepted by the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, Cortex. I was delighted at the news. 
The four years I served as Dean have gone by very quickly. A long time ago, I was taught by my teacher, Dr. Tosaku Nikara, that "The university becomes independent through establishment of a doctoral program." Since my arrival in April 2000 (Heisei 12), my dream of launching a doctoral program has been completed in 20 years. Now I have passed my term as the Dean of our graduate school and feel at ease with what has been accomplished. 
In the future, I expect to contribute to the research guidance of many graduate and undergraduate students who have gathered for work at my laboratory, and to foster the next generation of leaders. Stay tuned for future developments! 
April 1, 2020