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A Test of Time: Temple Japan Defines Global Education

Ana Vigueras-LaRochelle January 4, 2019

Some of you might have caught a whiff of the matcha cookies, miso glazed yakitori, pristine platters of sushi, and pork gyoza on the ground floor of the Paley Library on December 12th, 2018. This delicious washoku spread was laid for admirers, reporters, esteemed staff and faculty celebrating a very special moment in global education. Temple Japan Campus, now celebrating its 37th year, is Temple University’s younger sibling with a passion for travel and a stubbornness that overcomes barriers to foreign immigration. In honor of Temple Japan’s enduring influence as the only Japanese branch campus of an American university, Paley Library will open a special historical exhibit. The timing of the exhibit is even more momentous with the strong anticipation surrounding the inauguration of a joint campus between Temple Japan and Showa Women’s University campus scheduled for August 2019.

Several key victories for Temple Japan (TUJ) were addressed in speeches by Provost Joann Epps, Dean Bruce Stronach, TUJ alumnus and current dean of the University of Akron Law School Matt Wilson, former Dean of Temple Japan Rich Joslyn, “The Savior of Temple Japan” Robert Reinstein, and Roman Cybriwsky, a paramount Japanologist and professor at Temple Main Campus. Upon arriving at the formal ceremony, I had an overwhelming sense that this must be what it feels like to attend a diplomatic event at a Japanese American Embassy. Despite this initial feeling, the attendees were warm, especially with one another, on the basis of relationships built on years of commitment and perseverance towards the dream of creating a truly unique American university experience.

For those unfamiliar with Japanese society, it is easy to underestimate the difficulty of beginning a university in a foreign country. Japan has a history of being closed to foreign influences although recent decline in birth rate, need for foreign workers, and the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics has pushed Japan towards further globalization. So the ability to create this international branch campus, in the words of Professor Roman Cybriwsky, has made TUJ a “rich treasure”.

The most significant development in Temple Japan’s history was the official recognition by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as the first foreign University in Japan in 2005. Although TUJ opened its doors in 1982, it took about 23 years for the Ministry to recognize Temple Japan as an official university. With this recognition, TUJ was able to sponsor foreigners to gain study abroad experience and to issue  undergraduate and masters degrees in Tokyo. There is currently no other American university in Japan where international students of various nationalities can be sponsored for a visa, take classes in English, and earn an American degree all while spending weekends within the mysterious alleyways of Tokyo, the biggest city in the world and the most powerful tiger economy in Asia.

Former Dean Rich Joslyn noted in an interview, “TUJ is a novel experiment in international education. The official recognition by the Ministry of Education in Japan was necessary to reach this point.”

When probed for more, Dean Rich Joslyn explained that the Japanese government greatly admired the commitment and longevity that Temple maintained throughout the process of being recognized. It makes sense that Japan’s government supports an unrelenting drive because an important principle in the country’s culture is the concept of ganbaru which means in its simplest form, to never give up. And to ganbaru is exactly what Temple Japan did.

Dean Rich Joslyn recounted a difficult moment in Temple Japan’s history. On March 11th, 2011, a magnitude nine earthquake shook the northeastern side of Japan causing wreckage, a massive tsunami, and a nuclear shutdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. This triple disaster ravaged all sectors of Japanese society, and many foreigners thought it was a clear sign that they should not live in Japan. Temple Japan Campus saw many students being evacuated and the school faced the threat of ceasing operations.

“Fukushima really reminded us how life can change in a second”.

One of the driving forces for remaining open was President Anne Harp, an internationally minded president dedicated to execute on the mission Temple Japan has brought to the world. In truth, Temple Japan could not be what it is today without the staunch defense of Temple’s main campus in Philadelphia. Large figures in Temple’s history such as the ambitious president Peter Liacouras are the sort of “champions” that president, professor, and alumnus of TUJ Matt Wilson mentioned when I questioned him on why TUJ has managed to survive despite the constant political struggle and environmental challenges.  

President Wilson said, “Temple Japan’s successes and growth can be attributed to champions. TUJ has committed champions on both sides of the ocean–champions in Philadelphia and champions in Tokyo”.

These connections with champions battling the  immigration landscape, foreign policy, and environmental mega events will be documented by Dean Rich Joslyn and Dean Bruce Stronach in an upcoming book about the history of Temple Japan. The release date is anxiously anticipated.  

Click here to view a video of the event

Learning about these moments of adversity, I gained a new appreciation for TUJ, my previous school. Before moving to Philadelphia last fall, I spent two years at the international branch campus where I completed my freshman and sophomore years. It was a smooth transition because of the connection between main and Japan campuses. Although at times while in Japan it feels like one is navigating Tokyo and college with a small cohort, the connection to the Philadelphia campus makes one feel supported by an institution of great influence.

I am appreciative not only of  Temple having sponsored my time overseas and allowing me to enjoy the opportunities in Philadelphia, but also of the efforts that Temple Japan has made to connect with Japanese universities such as Musashi University, Toyo University, Meiji University, and now Showa Women’s University. Through these connections, Temple Japan students can not only remain part of Temple University and the American education system, but also part of Japanese higher education. The new global campus in 2019 will only enhance these connections, between and within schools.  

It is my hope that Temple Japan continues to soar and I am eager to see where Temple Japan leads  the internationalization of Tokyo and the international outlook of its future students. Dean Bruce Stronach of Temple Japan, while playfully teasing members of his board said [TUJ] started out in the late 70s, late 80s in the rising country—the Asian star. With branches overseas, the importance of international education is much more obvious today. There is various importance in having a campus in Asia. Once TUJ became mature, stable, the finances became stable and TUJ could pay for itself. This is important for what TUJ can bring to main campus”.  

By “various importance” Dean Stronach referred to the ability for Temple students to gain new perspectives as global students and citizens. In an “Update from the Dean” published December 13th, 2018, just one day after the TUJ archive event, Dean Stronach reflected on the end of this fantastic year and the start of 2019.

From my freshman year at Temple Japan. I hope to also stand next to the TUJ + Showa Campus sign in the future

He writes in beautiful prose TUJ is to educate those who will lead us into a new world. The near future will be all about the struggle to understand and manage our world as a global entity. We will need people who can lead, who are not afraid to open themselves to different ideas and to others who are different. I have every confidence that TUJ is headed toward a future made brighter by its students.”

As a student of Temple Japan who attended a Dean’s Luncheon and had the ability to speak with Dean Stronach in Japan and in Philadelphia, I find that Dean Stronach is the perfect model for remaining “open” and flexible to change in a turbulent world. With leaders such as those mentioned in this piece and despite challenges past and present, Temple Japan will continue to develop into a more stable entity signifying hope in the power of the global student.

A final note on where to find the Temple Japan archive. The archive was facilitated and planned by Dean Rich Joslyn and the Special Collections Director Margery Sly. The pair first met in February 2017. They gathered materials such as yearbooks, student publications, letters from deans, and other memorabilia to scan and prepare for the special exhibits which can be viewed digitally on this link . Once the rest of the materials are cataloged they will be available for use in the TU Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center reading room. In the move to the Charles Library, the digital files will remain on the preservation server while the paper files will be moved directly from Paley to one of the new storage spaces in Charles.

To learn even more about Temple Japan Campus please visit  Temple News’ fantastic article about the campus, the Temple Japan Campus website, youtube , and instagram!