5 Oct 2012

Board of Governors Congratulates OIST on Progress

The 4th meeting of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University’s (OIST) Board of Governors (BOG) took place on 4 and 5 October on the OIST campus.

OIST President, Jonathan Dorfan explained that the Graduate University was now fully functional with the first class of students living on campus and following the first modules of their educational program. He outlined the process of selection of the first class of 34 doctoral students from 18 countries and regions having been selected from amongst the best candidates available worldwide. Dorfan pointed out that, “The highly diverse scientific makeup of the class is further enhanced by the enormous cultural diversity. I am not aware of a graduate class anywhere in the world that is scientifically and culturally so broadly constituted – this class, like those that will follow it at OIST, is very special."  Torsten Wiesel, Chair of the BOG, congratulated the university on the successful recruitment of such high level students. “I am particularly impressed by the ratio of students who accepted an offer to study at OIST, which is higher than at most leading graduate schools.

President Dorfan explained that the large majority of the 24 new faculty who were recruited last year had now moved to OIST. He added; “The campus and laboratory buildings are now occupied by professors, post-doctoral researchers and students. OIST is at work as a research graduate university. The atmosphere is invigorating.” Dorfan underlined the importance of rigorous budgetary planning and control as he gave a detailed mid-year analysis of current expenditure of the FY2012 budget. He also explained the budget request for FY2013 that includes funding for the Laboratory 3 building, which, if funded would complete construction of the planned first phase of the Graduate University.

In his presentation, OIST Provost, Robert Baughman, focused on building strength in marine science and hosting advanced research workshops, mentioning the signing of an agreement on scientific and academic cooperation between OIST and Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, in the United States. “OIST has collaborated in the past with another Woods Hole institution, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in such areas as an Okinawa coastal ocean observation system and larval dispersal of hydrothermal vent species. Collaboration with the MBL opens a new chapter in our history of education and research on biology and the environment. By bringing together complementary minds, collaboration hastens the process of discovery.

John Dickison, Vice President for Buildings & Facility Management, reviewed the progress of campus construction. He explained that the new Laboratory 2 building is now fully completed, occupied and operating. Three powerful typhoons hit Okinawa during September and Dickison said he was pleased that the Campus buildings successfully resisted the most extreme storm conditions. The Village Center residence for students and researchers is now occupied and further apartments are under construction. 22 houses are also being fitted out on campus for faculty and it is expected that they will be completed by the end of the year.

President Dorfan stressed the importance of a Child Development Center for future recruitment and also retention of faculty, students and staff. “Knowing that their children will be safe and professionally looked after while they are at work is a fundamental requirement for students, faculty and staff and multi-lingual childcare is essential for the success of the Graduate University,” Dorfan said. He presented the temporary programs that are now in place but insisted that a dedicated Child Development Center is a key component in the FY2013 budget request. The BOG prepared a statement of support stressing the importance of this issue: “The Board of Governors, recognizing and greatly appreciating the strong support provided by the Cabinet Office, urges the Ministry of Finance to provide the funds requested to construct the CDC in FY2013.

Photos of the BOG meeting