ICU 2013 Spring Commencement Address by Junko Hibiya, President


I would like to extend my congratulations to all those graduates of the College of Liberal Arts who have received their bachelor's degrees, and to those Graduate School students who went on to further study and received their master's and doctoral degrees. Permit me to offer my heartfelt greetings to the friends and families of today's graduates watching the ceremony from Diffendorfer Memorial Hall.

As you heard many times during your time here, ICU was founded exactly sixty years ago based on Christian ideals and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We aim to educate individuals who serve God and humankind as critical, responsible, and peace-building global citizens. The mission of ICU embraces three principal commitments: academic, Christian and international. You have just received a Bachelor of Arts/Master of arts/Doctoral diploma from us. According to the Diploma Policy of the College of Liberal Arts, the university grants a Bachelor of Arts diploma to those who have attained the following abilities by completing academic requirements in the arts and sciences.

  1. The ability to learn creatively, acquire a strong academic foundation and form independent plans as a self-motivated scholar
  2. The ability to learn through Japanese and English and to use those languages to communicate with people from around the world
  1. The ability to identify and solve problems based upon critical thinking that is both self- and other-directed
  2. The ability to bring together diverse knowledge, whether it stems from the sciences or the humanities, and to put such knowledge to use in real-world situations
  3. The ability to effectively express ideas in both oral communication and the written word

A Master of Arts diploma is granted to those who have cultivated a broad-based scholarship and who can carry out research in a specialized area of study. This is in addition to the superior skills necessary as future professionals. The doctorate is granted to those who have cultivated scholarship and the superior research skills necessary as independent researchers in their chosen field of study or as highly-specialized professionals.

In this borderless and constantly expanding knowledge-based society, where you will live after having attained the above abilities, we know that learning does not end at graduation. To become a global citizen who is able the meet the changing demands of the world, one must become an intentional learner and be engaged in a lifetime of learning. With your education here, you are now able to plan your own path for creative learning.

The world today is fast becoming interconnected. People from every corner of the earth learn about and communicate with each other. To navigate our ever-shrinking world, you must demonstrate competency in at least one, desirably two or more languages other than your own. Japanese-English bilingualism that ICU has been practiced for the past sixty years. It represents one of the essential components of a twenty-first century education. Most of the workplaces where your generation will be employed do not operate in a single language. You may have to negotiate using a language that is not the mother tongue of anyone. Some of you have studied a third or fourth language in college-wide courses of "World Languages". ICU has offered a fully bilingual education in Japanese and English; however being competent only in these two languages does not fully prepare you to become a global citizen in the 21st century. Those who did not have an opportunity to study other languages here are strongly encouraged to try them after graduation. You are a life-long learner. I sincerely hope that each and every one of you who have been granted a degree today have nurtured the capacity to accept others with different backgrounds and to work together with others towards common goals. I hope also that you have developed an appreciation for diversity by applying yourself academically and by participating in extracurricular activities and dormitory life.

At the start of my address to you, I noted that ICU was founded sixty years ago. Since then, we have regarded the cultivation of individual thinking abilities and the power of scientific criticism as a crucially important goal in our educational program ('Application to Establish a University', "The purpose and mission of the university" submitted to the Ministry of Education, 1952). To achieve this goal, ranging from our language program to senior/Master's/doctoral thesis writing, we require students to approach issues from diverse points of view and to acquire the ability to analyze them carefully, logically and critically. You have met people from diverse backgrounds on ICU campus and abroad; these encounters have led to enhanced self-awareness and the possibility of redefining relationships between you and others. Your life after graduation will consist of a series of such encounters. I hope that ICU has set the foundation of your life beyond university.

Education at ICU strongly encourages students to learn both inside and outside the classroom. The places for available learning range from this campus of extraordinary flora, fauna and cultural heritage to foreign countries where students are engaged in service learning. Many of you have realized the importance of transcending the boundaries of academic disciplines by reaching out to surrounding communities. The purpose of liberal arts education is to nurture the capacity to integrate knowledge across the arts and sciences.

To promote such dialogue for cross-disciplinary exploration, one must be able to communicate effectively. The ability to express one's ideas and thoughts to those who have specialized in different areas, or who come from diverse backgrounds, is of particular importance. To realize this, one must listen others' ideas and thoughts carefully, and answer their queries appropriately. At ICU, you have nurtured such ability by participating in the discussion sessions and group work conducted in various courses. One must be able to communicate well in writing as well as in speech. Do you remember the day when you tried to tackle the first writing assignment in the Language Program/Writing for Researchers course? How many papers have you written since then until you submitted your senior/Master's/Doctoral thesis? You may construct your own idea based on a broad liberal arts background and deep knowledge in your specialist field but you cannot contribute to the world as a global citizen unless you have the ability to express yourself. Academic writing skills and the ability to express ideas through the written word - things you have acquired at ICU - will serve you well in any future profession.

With such an education offered here, ICU graduates have developed the wonderful habits of mind that include the above qualities. I strongly encourage you to apply them, not for yourself but to serve God and humankind. Surely, there is no better way to make use of your abilities. At the beginning of today's ceremony, we read Verses 7 and 8 of Chapter 7 of the Gospel according to Matthew. Keep asking, searching, and knocking. Never give up. Each and every one of you will be given your way. May God bless you.