2019 Autumn Matriculation Ceremony

Update: September 5, 2019

On September 3 (Tue.), ICU welcomed over 280 new undergraduate and graduate students including those graduating from high schools abroad, international schools in Japan, and exchange students from partnership schools, at the matriculation ceremony held in the University Chapel.

The ceremony started with a hymn and prayer by Shoko Kitanaka, Acting Director of the Religious Center. Next, Professor Osamu Arakaki, Chair of Religious Affairs Committee, read Acts 20:33-35. Then, as is the custom at ICU, the names of the new students were called one by one.

Following Presidents Junko Hibiya's address, the students signed the Students Pledge, promising to adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
After the ceremony, welcome luncheon was held at Dining Hall where new students immediately set about building new friendships.

2019 Autumn Matriculation Address by Junko Hibiya, President


I would like to extend my congratulations to all members of this year's incoming class. May I also offer warm greetings to those family members, relatives and friends who are with us today.

On June 15, 1949, exactly seventy years ago, Japanese and North American Christian leaders convened at the Gotemba YMCA Camp, in Shizuoka, to establish International Christian University, which you entered today. Every year, we commemorate the founding of the university on that day. Recently I had an opportunity to examine many items related to the "Gotemba Conference" such as documents and photographs housed in the University Archives.

According to the "Minutes, Board of Trustees and Councillors of the International Christian University", typed in English and hand-written in Japanese on aged pieces of paper, the agenda of the meeting included a review of development of the university, purposes and plans of the conference, organization of the council. The participants discussed the relation of ICU to other Christian colleges, the financial campaign in Japan, plans for choosing the faculty and organizing the program, the architect and building program, the date of opening, the relation between trustees and the foundation in America, organization of trustees, ratification of the constitution, and so on. The Board of Trustees and the Board of Councillors were inaugurated at this conference, and the following resolution was incorporated in the minutes: "Be it resolved that we the members of the Board of Trustees and Councillors of the International Christian University gathered at Gotemba thank Maurice E. Troyer for his clear-cut and comprehensive statement of the proposed program for the International Christian University," and "be it further resolved that this statement be recommended as setting forth the guiding principles in the development of the University." In this way, the founding principles and a fundamental educational plan were laid down. The Gotemba Conference finally realized the aspirations of those who had worked hard on the planning, from the fall of 1945, just weeks after the end of World War II.

After the Gotemba conference, a fund was realized to purchase this campus land, where you will study, engage in extracurricular activity and, for those who reside in a dormitory, conduct your daily lives. This fund was raised through a campaign of unprecedented scale conducted on both sides of the Pacific. On the American side, various Christian churches, those connected to foreign mission boards, and many individuals, exerted great effort. The list of donors in Japan included not only the leaders of political, economic and academic sectors of the country but also countless ordinary people including students of another university and elementary school children. According to the records, the former offered 100 yen each, money they had earned from their part-time jobs and the latter donated ten or twenty yen instead of buying candy. As a result, the amount raised reached its target of 150,000,000 yen on July 20, 1950. In the next summer, it was announced that the amount totaled 160,000,000 yen. The first class matriculated in April 1953, and these new students were introduced to the congregation, one by one, exactly like today.

Why did those who contributed in Japan make their donation despite the poverty and dire circumstances after the war? I believe that was because they supported the purpose of a new university to cultivate capable individuals, who would contribute zealously to lasting peace. Were these individuals familiar with the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, "It is more blessed to give than to receive?" We do not know. However, we do know that their noble actions coincided perfectly with Jesus' words. They could not have done what they did if they had not believed in the essence of these words. It is the act of giving that brings us true joy.

You will take the "Student Pledge," shortly. This has also been an important tradition since the university's first matriculation ceremony. You will sign a pledge to uphold the principles of the 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights' adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, in 1948. I trust that you will spend your days here abiding by this declaration.

Today, I have shared with you the early history of ICU. This institution was created through the good will of countless people who contributed to establish an ecumenically Christian university despite the poor condition of life in the immediate post-war years. Entering such a school, you are urged to meet the expectations and prayers of those who contributed to its founding. Always remember that, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," and contribute to others and the world by fulfilling your mission. May the years ahead of you be fruitful.

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