The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that originated late last year has spread rapidly around the globe, with more than 1.1 million people infected and over 60,000 dead. Its impacts are being felt in all areas, and human society is facing serious crises, such as the collapse of healthcare systems and the cratering of the economy. Even in Japan, where the rate of infection had been relatively low, the spread of infections has rapidly expanded in recent days, and the sense of crisis is increasing daily among local governments.
The disease is spreading even in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, where Nagoya University is located. Gifu University, a partner of our university under the newly-launched Tokai National Higher Education and Research System, has been closed and some functions of its affiliated hospital have been suspended. Assuming that the situation at Nagoya University will continue to grow more serious, the University's central administration, schools and graduate schools, departments, and each member of the University will work together to minimize the impact on Nagoya University's activities, while continuing to fulfill the mission of Nagoya University in a sustainable manner. In addition, I would like to take this crisis as an opportunity to realize a "Nagoya University that is well-managed against risk and is a safe, secure and comfortable workplace".
On this occasion, I, as the president, shall announce, share and implement with all of you Nagoya University's new guidelines so that we can overcome this crisis together. I believe that it is essential for each and every member of the University to have self-awareness and practice rational behavior on a daily basis.
2. Regarding the University updates related to the novel coronavirus
The situation, both in society and at Nagoya University, is constantly changing. For this reason, we will inform you about Nagoya University's newest information (guidelines, etc.) through the Nagoya University website, so we ask you to make sure to check the website every day.
The method of notification from the University Executives is also very important in terms of information sharing, therefore, we will change this to a more easy-to-see, easy-to-understand method of notification. Let's convert crisis to opportunity and create a wonderful Nagoya University.
3. Decisions, basic policies, and progress made by the President and University Executives for maintaining University functionality
In order to avoid a breakdown in University's functions due to the novel coronavirus, the President and University Executives are prepared to take the lead and overcome this hardship, and to that end have made the following resolutions at the Steering Committee on April 6: (1) in order to fulfill its mission, Nagoya University will strive to maintain its functions as a university under any situation; (2) in the current situation, with the prevention of the spread of infection and the safety of members of the university community as our top priority, we will not only actively responding to the requests from the national and local governments but also carry out our own measures; (3) while listening to opinions within the University, such as those from the Education and Research Council, we will do our best to formulate a comprehensive and executable measures and share them with all university members; (4) the President and University Executives will lead the entire University, and implement the measures immediately with responsibility in cooperation with departments, organizations and members; and (5) the whole University will raise its risk-response ability, and accelerate the improvement of the University system for the future while maintaining the University's functions.
We have already notified all members that as a rule, we will not conduct face-to-face classes during the spring semester, but instead switch to online classes using NUCT. Although practical training, experiments and individual research labs are currently exempt, thorough measures shall be taken to avoid the "Three Cs" (that is, (1) closed spaces, (2) crowded places, and (3) close contact/conversation).
The current situation is fluid. We are urgently discussing measures to be taken in the case that the University goes under a lockdown, including the required minimum number of people coming to work at the university to maintain the University's functions and ways to work from home.
1) Basic policy related to education and classes
An important mission of a university is to educate its students. Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, many universities across the globe closed down the campus, and it reminded us of the importance of remote classes for continuing classes. It is also important to note that remote classes will help to decrease chances of students, faculty and staff members getting infected. This will lead to the better safety and security of our members, which will greatly contribute to maintaining the functions of the University. Nagoya University's policy will be to take two measures to prevent the spread of infection in the field of education at the University. The first measure is to take prompt action so that the instructors and students can avoid the three Cs, and the second measure is to promote remote classes for University education, and promptly prepare a system where students can attend classes from home.
For the first measure, with regards to avoiding the three Cs (especially situations where many people will crowd such as the Entrance Ceremony, various procedures and guidances for new students, etc.), we have already decided on and are implementing measures. I appreciate the cooperation of departments and organizations. We will continue to collaborate with departments as well as the organizations in charge, and work hard to strengthen these measures even more.
For the second measure, the University aims to accelerate the preparation and expansion of a remote learning system environment, and build a system where teaching can continue even if a similar situation arises in the future. Nagoya University had examined the topic of remote classes when discussing the integration with Gifu University, but with this crisis surrounding the novel coronavirus as a turning point, we speeded up the preparation of remote classes since early February.
We have already announced Nagoya University's basic policies for remote classes; mainly using NUCT, with other interaction-based systems being added as appropriate. At the National Institute of Informatics (NII) hosted symposium last week, looking at how the "7 Universities" (that is, the group of universities consisting of the former Imperial Universities) are currently implementing remote classes, we firmly believe that Nagoya University is one of the universities that has best implemented such a system. During the symposium, it was pointed out that decisions are not made solely from the side of the instructors and the university, but that we should also pay attention to making a student-friendly system that considers the student's IT environment including their internet environment and storage issues. I ask you to make use of Nagoya University's tools for conducting remote class with confidence.
Nagoya University aims to create a future education system through the integration with Gifu University. We have had discussions actively, and agreed to and have been working on creating an "Academic Central" that will become the headquarters for such future education system. The New Corporation, "Tokai National Higher Education and Research System", will accelerate this endeavor immediately. In addition, not limiting our focus to just website-related matters and online classes, this is a place where we consider the development of a future education system with eyes for the future. On the other hand, there are still many issues related to copyright of educational materials, quality assurance in education, cyber security to protect personal information, construction of network environment, and training of instructors. Some adjustments need to be made for classes where remote classes are difficult, such as practical training and experiments. The National Institute of Informatics (NII) is also currently sorting out issues and collecting good practices related to remote classes from the 7 Universities. Regarding copyright issues, the NII has requested the Agency of Cultural Affairs to take the necessary measures that will not cause any troubles for education.
I would like to ask faculty members to cooperate with expanding the implementation of remote classes as much as possible in this time where educational tools have been changing. In addition, I strongly request for you to review the curriculum, lecture contents, and teaching methods from various viewpoints for realizing student-centered classes as well as improving the quality of education. It can be easily assumed that after COVID-19 settles down, education systems and situation of student mobility will have greatly changed around the world. Nagoya University intends to consider how university education should be and formulate a future education system that students around the world would want to learn at Nagoya University.
2) Basic policy related to meetings and teleworks
As President, I am of the thought that we should accelerate the administrative reform that we have been doing for two years now so that we can create a comfortable, productive, diverse and inclusive environment. As a result, our mission as a National University will be achieved and a world-renowned research university will also be realized. Under our current education, research, and administration system, there will be not only no hope for the development of Nagoya University, but also the increase of individuals' workload. To make our jobs more simple and efficient, we have been reviewing various meetings at the University towards the introduction of online meetings and teleworks. And to make a bold operational reform, each department has been enthusiastically working.
As the expression "start with the little things" goes, we will first review all meetings related to the University Executives and have some meetings online as much as possible, with the aim of making meetings efficient, speeding up the decision-making process, and being thorough when it comes to making known our decisions. The same also holds true for education, but an improvement in the efficiency of our meetings and security measures are important. To figure out how we can change "a meeting where participants just gather and attend" into "an efficient and fruitful meeting", it is important that we actually try (to learn, get used to, and become widespread) while preparing the system environment. While doing so, there will certainly be a change in mindset. I ask all faculty and staff members to understand and cooperate in actively changing your duties. For those who are not used to online meetings, please try actively. Starting from April 6, the Education and Research Council will be held online, and in the Steering Committee, the number of attendees will be greatly reduced by placing limits on the number, and observers will participate through an online meeting system.
With regards to office work, Nagoya University will actively promote the introduction of telework. The administrative section at each department is already having discussions on various matters including the preparation of the required environment, selection of the work to be done at home, and the required training and human resources. We aim to implement this as fast as possible and stop having "discussions for the purpose of discussing" as we have done so in the past so that we can reduce unnecessary workload and will not lower the quality of office work done as a service. To be more specific, we will put together an implementation policy for online meetings and teleworks as soon as possible, and put it into trial where we can. At each department, please implement them ahead of schedule, when the preparation has finished. We would like to carefully consider the measures while trialing them so that we can maintain our basic functionality as a University if the spread of the novel coronavirus gets even more serious and the campus gets closed down. We also do our best to minimize the number of faculty and staff members that must commute. I ask all faculty and staff members for your active cooperation.
4. University executive policy for the Nagoya University Hospital, etc.
The Nagoya University Hospital put together novel coronavirus countermeasures at an early stage, and with the Hospital Director taking the lead, all staff members are currently conducting medical care and treatment with extreme caution. With the infection spreading, requests to take in seriously ill patients (including those sick with the novel coronavirus) may increase. Due to the nature of the work done by the hospital staff, it is not possible for them to work from home. The strain on hospital staff can be said to be already increasing due to duties related to the prevention of the infection's spread. It is difficult to work continuously under such highly stressful situations.
We, the President and University Executives, have decided that University staff members, excluding the University Hospital staff, will work remotely and move meetings online, and at the same time, for the time being, focus the allocation of the University's various resources towards necessary sections such as the University Hospital and the departments in charge of student education. By doing so, as a University, we will have established a system that upholds the education of students, as well as upkeep the medical functions of the Nagoya University Hospital, a regional healthcare center.
5. To overcome the crisis surrounding COVID-19, as a member of Nagoya University, each individual should have self-awareness and take actions appropriate for a Courageous Intellectual with scientific thinking ability!
Right now, Japan is in a situation where an explosive increase in the number of novel coronavirus cases can occur at any time, so the actions of each and every citizen is of the utmost importance. Therefore, in addition to doing your best to prevent infection, I ask that you carry out your daily life in the current situation while maintaining ethically-sound behavior and a sense of mission as a Nagoya University member. It goes without saying, you should decrease your chances of infection by avoiding the "Three Cs" (i.e., (1) closed spaces, (2) crowded places, and (3) close contact/conversation), frequently washing your hands, gargling and keeping coughing etiquette such as coughing into your elbow. Not only this, but I ask you to take actions that conform to the University's policies by following this statement from Nagoya University's President. If a staff member or student does become infected, the entire university will be severely affected, as seen by examples from other universities. I ask you to act as a respectful member of Nagoya University so that we can overcome this ordeal.
6. Nagoya University as a member of the National University Corporation "Tokai National Higher Education and Research System (THERS)"
Starting this year, through the corporate integration of Nagoya University and Gifu University, THERS was established. The two universities will closely cooperate under THERS and are working together to overcome the crisis surrounding the novel coronavirus. I ask you to work together on necessary duties for the key businesses of THERS, remote class systems, telework, hospital duties, etc.
7. Against the crisis surrounding the novel coronavirus, how we are transforming Nagoya University into a future-oriented digital University
With the crisis surrounding the novel coronavirus, we began to review the way we work at Nagoya University. We would like to accelerate various reforms that we have been working on, in terms of both the quality and quantity of them. The world after the novel coronavirus pandemic ends will be one where the way of thinking and how society should be, including even higher education, will have completely changed. It is clear that the current social system, which encompasses politics, the economy and medical care, is extremely fragile.
Therefore, as President, I recognize that the various measures we are carrying out are reforms that will help us into the future. I believe that we should all work together to change Nagoya University so that we can achieve our realization as a digital university in this age of digital revolution. Hence, I am sharing with all members of Nagoya University these policies, in full hope that we will keep moving forward together.
April 6, 2020
Seiichi Matsuo,President of Nagoya University