President Junko Hibiya's Matriculation Ceremony Address


Junko Hibiya President

"Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more." (Luke 12:48b)

I offer my congratulations to all members of the incoming class here today. May I also offer warm greetings to those parents watching the ceremony from Diffendorfer Memorial Hall.

I took up office as president of ICU on 1 April, two days ago. Like you I am, therefore, a first-year student. Induction into this office happens once only. Thus, together with you, classmates of the same year, we stand at the threshold of a new beginning. This academic year will remain forever in my memory.

It was, in fact, precisely ten years ago, in April 2002, that I started my first year at ICU and became an official member of the university. In that first year, inevitably I found myself caught up with one matter after another; each one revealed new things. However, amongst all this, one thing left the greatest impression. In each year, in early February, ICU holds a preparatory meeting to explain the procedures related to the general entrance exam. All faculty and staff gather together and we are advised on things that require careful attention when proctoring this exam. I recall that the first thing we were told was, "For ICU, the students taking this exam are valued guests." Until then, I was employed for fifteen years at another university. All universities hold such explanatory meetings prior to the entrance exams, but the form of this expression, namely "the students taking this exam are valued guests" was, indeed, new to my ears. After this we were told, "In particular, for students who do not pass the exam, this will be their first and last contact with ICU. Please keep this in mind when proctoring the exam and be considerate to all so that students can display their strengths to the best of their ability."

This meeting is held in the same manner each year. Currently, ICU provides seven different routes through which students can apply to the university, including: the special entrance selection, special selection by recommendation from designated high schools, and so on. The only exam event for which all faculty and staff come together for preparatory information by the university is the large-scale general entrance exam; however, the notion that we treat each individual student as an important guest of the university holds for all types of applicant. In this way, all of you here in the Chapel were once 'important guests of the university'. With this matriculation ceremony as a sort of punctuation, you are now no longer guests; you are students with a primary relation to the university, you are colleagues working together with the faculty and staff to create our university's future. In a word, you are constituent members of the community that we call International Christian University.

ICU was founded by the fruit of international cooperation, in 1953. Thus, next year, when you are second year students, will be ICU's sixtieth anniversary. Over those sixty years, ICU has cultivated superlative individuals who have been able to contribute to genuine peace and coexistence among people.

I mentioned that at preparatory meetings for the general entrance exam we were advised about students who would not, in fact, pass the exam. However, the students who, unfortunately, did not pass are not the only ones who could not be here at this ceremony. Let us acknowledge, those students who were not even able to take the ICU exam, students who may have wished to attend ICU and have sufficient ability but, for one reason or another, perhaps financial difficulty, were forced to abandon hope of attending university. Even further, in a wider perspective, we must acknowledge those who were unable receive even an elementary school education.

Such a situation prompts careful reflection on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The Declaration of Human Rights was sent to you at the beginning of last month together with the university regulations. You were asked to read these before coming today. You will take the "Student Pledge" shortly and promise to lead a student life based on the principles of this declaration. At the rehearsal, for this ceremony, Dean of Students, Yuji Shimizu, explained to you the history and significance of the student pledge. With this pledge, each of you will become, in name and reality, a constituent member of ICU.

Students are not the only ones who take a pledge when becoming part of ICU. When faculty, such as myself, take up their appointments, we also affirm that ICU was established with a foundation in the Christian faith, that the institution places great importance on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that it aims to educate leaders who will contribute to world peace, in a just manner. We promise to devote ourselves to education and scholarship in order to realize these objectives. I myself made this promise a decade past.

The first article of the University Declaration of Human Rights states, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." A moment ago, I noted that the ability to receive a university education is a great blessing. What should one do in order not waste the opportunity? What should you do through your studies and extracurricular activities at ICU, to realize a world where all people can live without suffering want or fear? Please give this question serious thought. Surely each of you has a different role to fulfill in realizing such a world. Each of you is different from another. This is because God has provided for each of you unique gifts. Through the significance of the gifts you possess, you will gain an awareness of the calling or, we may say, the mission that each of you has been given. The next four years, two or three years if you are entering a master's or doctoral program, will be period in which you will discover that mission.

The declaration's first article goes on to say, "Human beings are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." In the life that you are about to begin here at ICU, you will surely meet a great diversity of people. I ask that in meeting such diverse individuals that you seek to understand those who are different from yourself, and through that understanding reaffirm who you yourself are. In so doing, you may also try to deepen your connection with those people. At ICU, there will be many opportunities where, through the mutual support of others, you will gain considerable experience "acting towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

At the start of my address to you I offered my congratulations on entering ICU, but these were not meant as congratulations for passing the entrance exam or coming to today's matriculation ceremony. It is a blessing that you have taken the first step forward towards being one "to whom much is given" and "to whom men commit much." Prepare for the time when "much will be required" of you and when such men "will demand the more." Please spend each day at ICU as a valuable one. May I reiterate that each of you has been given special blessings. Congratulations on your entrance to ICU.