by K.H. Ng
Since Dato Zaini was appointed VC for the second term, he has created what was called the New Academia. Personally, I would say it is a very ambition yet not too over achieving plan for the university. The effort that Dato Zaini has put in after his post as the VC has been vast and on-going. Not only that he is focusing on bring the university's name to a global scale, he is also a visionary leader, trying to explain his vision, via examples.
The New Academia might be the current plan on bring the university to a whole new level. That is what people should be doing; keep improving ourselves, bringing ourselves to a new level, by laying out a smart plan. I would be sharing this knowledge from my on perspective, and needless to say, it might not be right, only in the matter of perspectives.
So, what is the new tagline is all about: Innovative, Entrepreneurial, Global? From a single glance, I would say that one is trying to "use innovation for an entrepreneurial scheme in a global scale". This was introduced not long ago, where the old tagline was "Inspiring Creative and Innovative Minds". Personally, I have not gone into the New Academia thoroughly, and like I have said, I am just sharing what I perceive. First of all, the new tagline has lost the action in it. Like the previous tagline, one would perceive "The university is Inspiring Creative and Innovative Minds". The oomph is there. As for now, it was just left with "The university is innovative, entrepreneurial, global". For me, there is something missing.
Secondly, when I first see the new tagline, I was thinking like this "Oh, you have removed the creativity part and would like to focus on business now". This implies creativity is much more important than innovation. I would think otherwise. Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing has mentioned in his blog, that although innovation is the characteristics that can be measured, creativity is the main root to produce something of quality.
On the other hand, the introduction of entrepreneurial elements is not without reason. Ever since the university attained the "Research University" status and the full autonomy, it has to find the resources on their own, more or less. The most crucial resources of all is fund. No company can run without fund. As result, it seems that the university has turned into a money making business.
Besides that, the university has set it's course to be in line with the country. That is to create a high income nation in form of GDP. By setting the course to "Entrepreneurial" and "Global", the university has contributed a lot to the country. By marketing research outcome in global scale, the nation actually can generate wealth.
Coming back to the topic of creativity, it seems the university has lost the interest in curiosity based research, either it be science or technology. As mentioned by Michio Kaku, frontier researches are for example fields like artificial intelligence, medicine, nanotechnology, space travel, and so on. All this cannot be done (or hard to be done) without the element of creativity.
In the end of the day, personally, I would say the new tagline is placed at the right place, and at the right time. Without a solid ground, it is hard for the university to be chasing others. Harvard, MIT, and the others has a very solid ground to stand on, and they can do whatever they wanted to. The new tagline will be used as a stepping stone for something greater in the future, for the nation, for the academia, and for the people. And Dato Zaini is doing a great job in leading everyone there.