President of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
DAEJEON, July 14 (Yonhap) -- Nobel Physics Prize laureate Robert Laughlin was sworn in Wednesday as the first foreign president of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), South Korea"s top technology university.
Laughlin, in his inauguration speech, pledged to transform the state-run Korean university into a globally competitive educational institution, while also vowing to make it research oriented.
"Many people have asked me how I, as a foreigner, could possibly understand the situation here at KAIST, much less figure out a path forward," he said. "The short answer is that the situation here is not unique. The problems facing the research university are historical in nature and essentially identical all over the world."
He added the same worried discussions are taking place in other universities around the globe such as at Stanford, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Heidelberg and Tokyo.
"I have come here not to solve your problems but to solve my own," the 54-year-old American said.
Laughlin said KAIST is a large, well-functioning organization for which few things needed to be changed.
The former Stanford University professor also promised to work hard to lead the university in a novel direction.
"All of us in the technical university have a holy obligation ... we are here for the sole purpose of having big dreams and finding the strength to make them come to pass," Laughlin said.
"As far as I"m concerned, my job comes down to one thing: to make sure that your dreams are big enough, and to help everyone here -- faculty and students -- find the means to make them come to pass. That"s all," he said.
The ceremony was attended by Science and Technology Minister Oh Myung, Daejeon City Mayor Yeom Hong-chul and U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Thomas Hubbard, among others.
On Thursday, Laughlin is scheduled to meet President Roh Moo-hyun in Seoul. Laughlin will start his four-year term from mid-August, KAIST said.
Laughlin won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1998 with Horst Stoermer of Germany and Daniel Tsui of the United States for discovering a new form of quantum fluid that gives more profound insights into the general inner structure and dynamics of matter.
On May 28, he was chosen to run the Korean university at a board meeting. (END)
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