Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Japanese First at Hosei University

Miki Tanikawa of NYTimes profiles Prof. Yoko Tanaka, the first woman to lead a "major Japanese University":

The traditional, mild-mannered appearance of Yuko Tanaka, clad in a kimono and geta sandals, belies the unbending determination of the woman who has become the first female president of one of Japan’s oldest and largest universities.

With the curious mixture of quiet Japanese elegance and the gravitas that comes with holding the top seat at Hosei University, a 130-year-old institution with about 30,000 students and 1,500 faculty and staff, Professor Tanaka, 62, makes regular appearances on a Sunday morning talk show aired on the Tokyo Broadcasting System, where she is known for her tirades against the right-leaning government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The appointment a year ago of Professor Tanaka, the first woman to be named president of a major Japanese university, could not have come at a more relevant or ripe moment. A long, sleepy era for Japanese universities ended in the 1990s when a demographic shift occurred: A sharp decline in the number of young people put academic institutions in the position of having to compete for new students. [Bold emphasis added]