Campus unknown named next dean of Japan campus

By Christopher Wink | Jan. 22, 2008 | The Temple News

Bruce Stronach was named the next dean of Temple University-Japan on Jan. 10, to replace the retiring dean, Kirk R. Patterson. Stronach will officially join TUJ on Feb. 1 but will not assume the role of dean until April 1.

An interim dean has not been named.

Currently, Stronach, a campus outsider with an academic career that spans three decades and two continents, is transitioning from his term as president of Yokohama City University, where he has been since 2004.

“I am very happy to have been selected as dean,” wrote Stronach in an email from Japan. “I am very much looking forward to working with everyone on the Temple team in Philadelphia, Tokyo, and elsewhere around the world.”

Stronach is accomplished, having been the first foreign president of a Japanese public university when he was first hired as president of YCU, a mid-sized school of 4,500 in a city of 3.5 million some 20 miles south of Tokyo.

Prior to that appointment, Stronach had been acting president at Becker College in Worcester, M.A. since 2003 and its chief operating officer before then since 1998. From 1990 to 1997, he held faculty and administrative positions at the Graduate School of International Relations at the International University of Japan in Niigata, eventually serving as the school’s dean beginning in 1994. Stronach also has held faculty appointments at Merrimack College in North Andover, M.A, and at Keio University in Tokyo.

Indeed, Stronach, 57, is the accomplished academic to his former competition, 37-year-old attorney Matthew J. Wilson, TUJ’s current chief legal counsel and the only other candidate to be named a finalist by the university’s search advisory committee.

Wilson had been a frequent de facto acting dean when Patterson was away on leave, most recently in the interim between Patterson’s TUJ departure Dec. 17 and Stronach’s appointment, according to some at the campus. However, some university sources said Wilson’s exact role was unclear.

No official announcement regarding an interim dean was named between Patterson’s official exit Dec. 31 and Stronach’s official entrance Feb. 1. TUJ’s semester began on Jan. 14, according to Stephanie Gillin, chief of staff to University Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico, who, with President Ann Weaver Hart, made the final decision on Patterson’s successor.

There had been some question to the delay in the decision to nominate Stronach, a longtime friend of Patterson’s. Official comment on the timing of the announcement has not been made.

“I am just beginning to absorb all the pressures of the transition and to bring myself up to speed on matters pertaining to both the home campus and the Tokyo campus,” wrote Stronach in the same email from Saturday.

He has not spoken to what, if anything, his friendship with Patterson, who was not active in the selection of his replacement, might mean for his plans and goals.

Patterson, who served from 2002 to 2007 and announced his retirement on Aug. 27, will likely be remembered for a tenure highlighted by unprecedented growth, though marred with late coming criticism of his leadership style, which some suggested was too controlling. Sources, including TUJ administrators and faculty, who afforded this characterization would not speak on the record but additionally praised the fiscal successes Patterson led.

“My successor will inherit an institution that is very optimistic,” wrote Patterson in an email from early December. “TUJ is becoming a first in the world model for international education.”

The man Stronach beat out, Wilson, had a leading role in the Patterson administration. He noted during interviews on Main Campus in November that his direct experience with TUJ was a prize advantage in his quest to become dean.

“I won’t have an on-the-job learning period,” he said while on Main Campus in November.

Despite watching an outside leapfrog him for the chief spot he coveted, Wilson intoned his intentions to stay on with his role at the branch campus.

“I am excited that Dr. Bruce Stronach has agreed to join the Temple family,” he wrote in an email to The Temple News from Tokyo on the day of the announcement. “[I] look forward to working with him in my capacities as Associate Dean and General Counsel.”

Wilson, who is narrow, blonde and noted for his boyish features, rapidly ascended through administrative ranks during a four and a half year TUJ career.

Wilson was taken on as a professor of law at TUJ in April 2003 and began what has been a startling ascension. Just two months later he was named the law program’s director. Then, a little over a year later, he was installed both as TUJ’s chief legal counsel and associate dean. Those positions, which he still holds, were coupled with a semester as director of TUJ’s undergraduate program last spring. If he had been appointed, he would have been the youngest dean in that campus’s history.

But he wasn’t and, where Wilson’s rise through Temple administrative ranks has been heralded, Stronach’s youth was less direct. His first attempt at college failed.

“You should be committed to your education because I wasn’t,” he told The Temple News in a November interview on Main Campus.

Young Stronach grew up on a small farm in Massachusetts and first left home for Boston College in the late 1960s. The football player who got caught up in the anti-war movement struggled to find a desire for academics, so he left in 1970. The next three years of his life were spent working as a truck driver and in various manufacturing capacities.

“The first half of my life was spent in factories, on trucks,” he said in the same interview. “So, I think I have a pretty good idea what the real world is like.”

Stronach has two daughters, one of whom currently attends Wake Forest University, another is a student at a high school outside of Boston.

In speaking with The Temple News, Stronach expressed an interest in further developing TUJ’s image as a permanent fixture of higher education in Japan and working on partnerships with other Japanese universities.

“I want TUJ to become more of a Japanese institution,” he said in November, while still just a candidate for the position. “Not just the extension campus of Temple University.”

Still, he admitted not knowing much about the daily operations of TUJ.

“I don’t know all that much about TUJ,” he said. “But I think that is more of an asset than a deficit.”


The Temple News originally misreported when Stronach will officially become dean. He will join TUJ on Feb. 1, but won’t become dean until April 1 as changed on Jan. 23 at 6:21 p.m.

This story was prepared for the 1/22/2008 edition of The Temple News. See it here. This is a follow-up in continued coverage of this story. See the original on this Web site here.

Japan dean candidates have surprise ties to university (The Temple News: 11/27/07)

By Christopher Wink | Nov. 27, 2007 | The Temple News

Matthew J. Wilson thought it was strange that Ann Weaver Hart was born and raised in Salt Lake City when he first heard nearly two years ago that she was a top candidate to become Temple University’s ninth president.

Wilson, 37, the associate dean of and chief legal counsel for Temple University Japan, was finishing Asian studies and political science degrees from the University of Utah in 1995, while Hart was the dean of the school’s graduate program in education.

“It made me look twice,” Wilson said.

Hart was elected Temple’s first female president on May 4, 2006, and Wilson, who was in Philadelphia to interview to replace the retiring dean of the Japan Campus recently, is bringing the coincidence to light. Those involved are careful to mention that it is just that: coincidence.

“I didn’t know this until I first met him not long ago,” Hart said last week.

Still, the happenstance continues.

While the two didn’t know each other then, Hart explained her husband Randy met Wilson’s father, Jim, while they were studying law at Utah.

Hart’s ties to Wilson, who is one of two finalists to become the next dean of TUJ, go even further.

“My mother went to the same high school as President Hart and her husband,” said Wilson, who first visited Japan as a teenager during a yearlong mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “But she was two years younger.”

Wilson’s competition for the TUJ dean position also has coincidental ties to high-level Temple staff.

Bruce Stronach, 57, current president of Yokohama City University, attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, the very same as Dr. Kirk R. Patterson, the man Stronach is jockeying to replace as dean of TUJ.

Patterson announced his impending retirement Aug. 27, effective at the end of this calendar year. During his tenure, TUJ has seen sizable enrollment increases and a stabilization of longtime budget concerns.

Christopher Wink can be reached at

Text as it appeared in the 11/27/07 edition of The Temple News. See it here. This is part of an ongoing series, see the original story here.

TUJ dean retires for the sea (The Temple News: 12/4/08)

By Christopher Wink | Dec. 4, 2007 | The Temple News

Kirk Patterson wants to sail the world.

The current dean of Temple University Japan, who announced his retirement at a campus-wide meeting on Aug. 27, is looking beyond his departure at the end of this month.

It was a dream of his from a very early age, but it wasn’t until 15 years ago that he realized he might be blessed with the opportunity to make it a reality.

“I’ll spend two years in Victoria preparing,” said the native Canadian over the telephone from Tokyo. “Getting the boat ready, getting my body ready.”

Perhaps, it won’t be unlike his five-year career as the top man for Temple in Japan

TUJ was in fiscal ruin 2001, prior to Patterson’s appointment as dean in January 2002. The branch campus had lost money for 10 consecutive years.

“TUJ’s reputation was very bad when I came,” Patterson, 54, said. “A lot of foreign universities were closing, so no one would trust them.”

So Patterson was brought from the corporate world, having held leadership positions in large communications and public relations firms before being chosen to fill the campus’s top position. After reorganizing the school’s mission and welcoming encouraged commitment from Main Campus, Patterson has overseen TUJ’s transition to a successful, profitable part of a growing Temple community.

After years of swirling rumors about the impending closure of TUJ, attitudes have largely changed.

Temple President Ann Weaver Hart’s trip to East Asia last month, which prominently featured TUJ’s 25th anniversary celebration, was an important reminder of that.

“When you’ve been in office for a long, long time and – I would hope – are happy with what you see as the future of the institution you’ve devoted so much of your life to,” Hart said, “you can feel comfortable stepping down knowing that you feel like the institution is in good hands.”

“President Hart is wonderful in her commitment to global education,” said Patterson, who speaks and reads Japanese.

The field of candidates to replace him as head of a growing campus has been narrowed to two.

Bruce Stronach, 57, is a career academic from Massachusetts and current president of Yokohama City University. Matthew J. Wilson, 37, originally from Utah, is chief legal counsel and current Associate Dean at TUJ. The final decision is expected to be announced before the end of January.

Despite an impressive turnaround, Patterson has not been without criticism. Some TUJ administrators and academic personnel have suggested that he has remained too closely involved in the daily decisions of what is still a small, albeit flourishing, university setting.

During a public presentation on Main Campus, Wilson, who would be the youngest dean in TUJ history if chosen, promised to improve something Patterson has cited as one of his earliest successes: campus unity.

“TUJ is a growing institution,” said Wilson while in Philadelphia Nov. 20. “But an important first stand is to reconnect with staff, to improve faculty morale.”

While Temple is not required to release by-campus fiscal results, after a decade of budget shortfalls, the past four years have been profitable, according to Patterson. Enrollment at TUJ has doubled to nearly 3,000 students since Patterson came, including 20 percent increases in each of the past two academic years.

“My successor will inherit an institution that is very optimistic,” said Patterson, who is not involved in the process to select his replacement. “TUJ is becoming a first in the world model for international education.”

Patterson is not shy about what the position has meant to him.

“If I hadn’t taken the Temple job, my life wouldn’t have been complete,” he said. “My decision was to leave Japan, not TUJ.”

After the announcement of his retirement, Hart said she would recommend to the Board of Trustees that Patterson become a Dean Emeritus after his departure, so he would be available to help with any transition period, if necessary.

But Patterson is certainly moving on. He has an ailing father in Spain and a dream of his own calling from the horizon, seeing the world by sea all alone.

Still, he not is without plans to return to what has been his home for 25 years.

“The first leg of my trip will be to sail back here,” he said with confidence in his voice. “No foreigner has ever completed a solo circumnavigation of Japan.”

“I just don’t have a boat, yet,” he said.

Christopher Wink can be reached at

Text as it appeared for the 12/4/08 edition of The Temple News. See it here. This is one part of an ongoing series about Patterson’s replacement. See the original here.

Does North Korea Matter?: An undergraduate research paper

By Christopher Wink | Nov 27, 2006 | TUJ Undergraduate Research

There are nearly 200 member-states in the United Nations; 191 since Switzerland and East Timor joined in 2002 (UN 2005). With such a robust international community, it is clear that some states might require less attention than others. Without enough adequate potable drinking water for its citizens and with an estimated gross domestic product barely in the top 100 among independent states, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, populated by just 23 million people, would seem to be an understandable candidate to slide from global political discourse (CIA 2006). Yet, as heads of state and political scientists from around the world would likely acknowledge, North Korea is anything but forgotten.

In January of 2002, during his first State of the Union address, President George W. Bush famously labeled North Korea as a member of an “axis of evil.” In September of that same year, an American National Security Strategy document released by the Bush administration referred to two “rogue states” that were considered to, “reject basic human values and hate the United States and everything for which it stands.” They were the DPRK and the since invaded and occupied Iraq (McCormack 1-2. 2004).

In recent months, there has been fervor over an alleged North Korean nuclear weapons program, causing a push to return to six-party talks about its termination. The group negotiations, led by the United States, include global powers and North Korean neighbors: China, Russia, and Japan, along with South Korea (Reuters 2006). There is no doubt that North Korea garners a great deal of consideration among politicians and pundits alike. The ready question, then, is if the attention it receives is merited. In short, does North Korea matter?

Continue reading Does North Korea Matter?: An undergraduate research paper