Concluding the term of ACUCA’s immediate past leadership headed by Hannam University, the Secretariat at HNU organized the 2023 Management Conference and the 25th General Assembly. An event of this size and gravitas is the first to be held by ACUCA since the COVID-19 Pandemic broke. Preparations have been underway for months leading to the 2-day activity held last October 18 and 19 at Hannam University in Daejeon, Korea. The activities centered on the theme, “Innovation and Spirituality: Trajectories for Christian Higher Education in Asia”.
The first day was dedicated to the Management Conference and was opened by a Worship Service at the Hannam University Chapel and then proceeded to HNU’s Maker Space where the two-day event would take place. The attendees geared up for a series of lectures and discussions prepared by the Secretariat. At Maker Space, the attendees were welcomed by Prof. Kwang-Sup Lee, who, in his Welcome Remarks, emphasized the importance of such activity in ensuring the future of ACUCA. During the Plenary Session, Prof. Dosoung Choi, President of Handong Global University, delivered his lecture titled “Learning to Engage the VUCA World: Find Yourself in God’s Narrative” and warned about the decrease in the number of students who identify as Christians and the youth leaving churches as an obstacle in the advancement of Christian higher education and the faith as a whole. As a solution, Professor Choi talked about the need for universities to adapt to the ever-evolving world emphasizing adopting a trans-disciplinary curriculum that enables more holistic learning and allows “problem-solving that transcends traditional academic boundaries”, better-equipping the youth in the real world.
Following the Plenary Session, the attendees were given the choice to attend two Parallel Sessions. One session was a Biblio-Theological reflection on the Management Conference theme which broke it into a comprehensive, deeply theological, yet easy-to-digest discussion. The resource speaker, Bishop Emerito Nacpil from the Philippines, gave a multi-perspective dissection of the theme including points on secularity amid innovation, a scriptural and theological interpretation of spirituality, and even a challenge for the academics in terms of how Christian higher education ought to move forward. This session was moderated by Dr. Fr. Viju Devassy from India. Meanwhile, a parallel session on Exploring Learning Innovation in Higher Education through Micro-credentials was given by Dr. Greg Pawilen, also from the Philippines, and moderated by Prof. Kitai Kim, ACUCA Secretary-General. During his discussion, Dr. Pawilen highlighted the role of micro-credentials, which are short courses or sets of learning competencies, in making education truly more inclusive, accessible, and more responsive to the needs of the learners and society as a whole, as well as, like the ACUCA Micro Degree Program, becomes a tool for collaboration for universities beyond geopolitical borders. Both Parallel Sessions concluded with a Question and Answer Session moderated by Prof. Kitai Kim. The day’s formal proceedings concluded with remarks from Prof. Katsunobu Kihara of Doshisha University which was followed by a campus tour, dinner, and social night for all the attendees.
Day 2 was opened with an invocation led by Rev. Wahju Satria Wibowo of Duta Wacana University. ACUCA President Prof. Kwang-Sup Lee formally welcomed the attendees to the 25th General Assembly, followed by a Proof of Due Notice, a Roll Call, and a Declaration of a Quorum by the Secretariat led by Prof. Kitai Kim. The highlights of the proceedings included the ratification of actions taken by the Executive Committee, reports from officers including the Secretariat at Hannam University and the permanent Treasury at Hong Kong Baptist University, the approval of the Revised Constitution and By-Laws, and the acceptance of four (4) new Member Institutions from India, Japan, and the Philippines. Another highlight of the General Assembly was the presentation of the Ad Hoc Committee Report on the Quality Assurance (QA) Framework of ACUCA by Judge Benjamin Turgano of Wesleyan University-Philippines. The report ultimately stressed the importance of QA in enhancing the academic performance of Christian higher education institutions in Asia while emphasizing the retention of each institution’s Christian character. Towards the end of the morning session, the General Assembly confirmed the election of the Executive Committee for 2024-2025, discussed other important matters, and adjourned with a prayer by Hong Kong Baptist University Chaplain Rev. Hung Tse and proceeded to a networking session and lunch.
In the afternoon, the attendees were given a tour of the Daejeon Science Research Complex. The attendees gathered once again at Hannam’s Maker Space for the formal turnover ceremonies for the newly elected officers of ACUCA. In his final speech as ACUCA President, Prof. Kwang-Sup Lee thanked the ExCo, the Secretariat, and the entire membership for their unwavering support for the association. He gave his commitment that Hannam University will continue to share in ACUCA’s mission. Outgoing President Lee then symbolically transferred the powers, duties, and responsibilities to his successor, Prof. Tomoko Ueki of Doshisha University in Japan by means of the bequeathal of the ACUCA pin, a symbolic giving of a token as a symbol of friendship, and the handover of the ACUCA flag. After accepting the symbols, Prof. Ueki gave her first speech as ACUCA President. This was then followed by the announcement of the 2024-2025 Executive Committee members including the election of the Board Members coming from India, Indonesia, Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand. The membership in the Executive Committee of ACUCA is rotational and institutional but is however represented by either the institution’s president or rector or an officer designate. The day’s proceedings adjourned with a message from Prof. Ta Chin Wei of Chung Yuan Christian University in Taiwan and a prayer by Rev. Shinwan Pan of Hannam University.
The Management Conference and General Assembly were attended by 92 delegates from eight countries across Asia. The leadership of ACUCA and the Secretariat is grateful for the graciousness and hospitality of Hannam University. HNU is the President of ACUCA for 2022 to 2023 and with the ExCo, led the association into the new normal. HNU’s leadership saw the transition of ACUCA’s activities from fully online to fully face-to-face, introduced the Micro Degree Program, and thus effectively extended the reach of the organization’s mission beyond the limits of its members’ campuses.