TUJ celebrates 35th anniversary

The TUJ community is working on historic preservation of the campus during events celebrating its anniversary.

Yuri Suzuki, an undeclared freshman at Temple University Japan, volunteers at “Alumni Success Stories,” a film festival celebrating TUJ’s 35th anniversary, on Dec. 4. | MARGO REED / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Less than five years after Temple University Japan opened, it was in financial shambles.

In 1983, one year after the university opened, Richard Joslyn, the former TUJ dean, said a business partner stole tuition money, leaving TUJ financially unstable.

The institution found a new business partner to take over until 1992, and during this time period, TUJ enrollment grew, along with its faculty and programmings.

TUJ suffered once again under Japan’s economic crisis known as “The Lost Decade of the 1990s,” which was a period following the crash of real estate and stock market prices. Because of the crisis, TUJ almost closed, but Main Campus assumed responsibility for TUJ in 1996. The campus became completely run by Temple without a business partner, and it has remained that way since then.

“It’s a very positive time right now,” said Joslyn, now a political science professor on Main Campus. “Enrollment has recovered. The student body’s nicely diversified, [and] there’s a stability to the curriculum.”

This year marks the 35th anniversary of TUJ, Temple’s only four-year international university. TUJ hosted a film festival titled “Alumni Success Stories” on Monday, which was the final anniversary event of the year. The documentaries and features produced by the TUJ Communication Department highlighted the accomplishments of alumni.

Other anniversary events held throughout the fall included an alumni reunion and an art exhibition.

As a foreign university, 37 percent of students are Japanese, 41 percent are American students and 22 percent are students from other countries.

TUJ Dean Bruce Stronach, said the central theme of the anniversary is historic preservation of TUJ. The main anniversary event was the symposium “Developing a Successful Overseas Branch Campus: TUJ Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” which highlighted TUJ’s history. The symposium was held on Oct. 21 at Showa Women’s University in the Setagaya district of Tokyo. It focused on TUJ’s growth into a successful foreign university.

As part of the historic preservation, Joslyn is running the Temple University Japan Campus History Project. Joslyn has been gathering documents related to TUJ from offices across Main Campus during the last year, focusing on finding records of TUJ events from 1982 to 1995.

“The people who were involved in TUJ’s creation and early development were forgetting things or the documents were being lost,” Joslyn said. “[People] were passing away. So the institutional memory of the early years was in danger of being lost, and I thought that was a shame.”

Joslyn has accumulated writings, photographs and videos of TUJ’s history during its early years, including a video of the Temple basketball team touring Japan in 1990 and videos of early TUJ graduation ceremonies. Once the collection is complete, Margery Sly, the director of the Special Collections Research Center, will create a TUJ archive in Paley Library. Joslyn said he anticipates the archive will be complete next semester.

In addition to the records, Joslyn has reached out to faculty, administrators, students and alumni to write personal essays about their time at TUJ. So far, Joslyn has received 18 completed essays at about 6,000 words each.

“I’ve enjoyed reading [the essays],” Joslyn said. “I’ve learned some things I didn’t know about the campus. They’re also very heartfelt, very personal.”

He suspects the completed essay collection will be enough to make a 250-page book. Joslyn is meeting with Temple University Press to discuss publishing the essay collection.

Yuri Suzuki, an undeclared freshman at TUJ, was born and raised in Tokyo. She said interacting with people on trips the Office of Student Services hosts, like short day trips to different Tokyo neighborhoods and overnight excursions to areas outside of the city, fosters interaction among the campus’s diverse student body.

“It makes me really happy to know that a lot of people from other countries are interested in Japanese culture,” Suzuki said. “They ask me a lot of questions about Japan and language. It’s been my pleasure that I can help them with being able to speak Japanese.”

Stronach said the 35th anniversary also intersects with TUJ’s plans to relocate its campus in 2019 and merge campuses with Showa Women’s University. TUJ currently exists in two office buildings in the Minato District of Tokyo, but the new campus will be a single six-floor building on the SWU campus.

Suzuki said she is concerned about TUJ’s relocation because she thinks the new neighborhood isn’t as diverse as its current location, which is close to a lot of tourist destinations, like the Roppongi district.

“A lot of students here, although they learn Japanese, still don’t feel comfortable to fluently speak Japanese,” Suzuki said. “I’m assuming it takes time for them to adjust themselves to [the] Japanese norm, but since we have an international environment near here, I think it helps them feel more relaxed.”

The two universities will not only share a campus, but will also offer a dual-degree program. Stronach said the merger will benefit TUJ by furthering students’ interaction with Japanese culture. He added he hopes the move increases a feeling of community for students.

“I really hope people don’t focus just on facilities and understand what a really unique relationship this is going to be between a Japanese university and an American university,” Stronach said.

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