ICU 2013 Spring Matriculation Address by Junko Hibiya, President



Junko Hibiya

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

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.

In the Japan of those days, high school graduates who went to four-year colleges numbered only 8 percent. The figure was slightly more than 25 percent when I matriculated about thirty-five years ago, and surpassed 50 percent in 2009, for the first time. The proportion of college graduates who went on to graduate school reached 10 percent in 2000, and has been gradually increasing. Given these figures, some of you may take it for granted to be enrolled in an institution of higher education, in particular, an undergraduate program. However, it is worthwhile reminding ourselves that there are students who, though sufficiently able, wished to attend ICU, or other universities, but who, for one reason or another, perhaps financial difficulty, were forced to abandon hope of doing so.

Let us look further, in a wider perspective. Are you familiar with the "Millennium Development Goals: MDGs)? They integrate the United Nations Millennium Declaration adopted at the Millennium Summit in 2000 and international development goals adopted by major international conferences and summits in the 1990s. MDG sets out eight time-bound targets with a deadline of 2015.

The first goal is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger with the following three targets, in the time span between 1990 and 2015: to halve the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day, to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people, and to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

The second goal is to achieve universal primary education, with the target of ensuring that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. According to the 2012 issue of UNESCO's Education for All Global Monitoring Report, enrolment in primary education in 2010 was 91% in the world, 81% in low-income countries and 77% in sub-Saharan Africa. The year 2015 is the year after next. Today, one in ten children on the earth still cannot receive an elementary school education; the ratio is even worse, one out of four, in sub-Saharan Africa.

You will take the "Student Pledge" shortly and promise to lead a student life based on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, in 1948. You were asked to read this Declaration before coming today. At the rehearsal for the ceremony, the Dean of Students, Yuji Shimizu, explained to you the significance of the student pledge. Our first students, matriculating in April 1953, were introduced to the congregation just like today. Each one signed a pledge. This has since been a tradition at ICU, at every matriculation ceremony, for the past sixty years. The current junior students who matriculated in April 2011, when the ceremony was cancelled due to the Great East Japan earthquake, signed the student pledge in two groups during the orientation session.

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, in today's world, many are unable to receive even an elementary school education. Such a situation prompts careful reflection on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You who have been granted a great blessing to study at undergraduate/graduate level should 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? Give this question serious thought.

The MDGs advocate further goals: the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women, the reduction of child mortality, the improvement of maternal health, the struggle against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and global partnership for development.

We require students to approach issues from diverse points of view and to acquire the ability to analyze them carefully, logically and critically throughout the curriculum. I urge you to acquire these abilities and to contribute to the achievement of these goals, as a global citizen.

The declaration's first article continues as follows, "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, and in your study abroad, 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, redefine the relationships between you and others. 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."

I noted earlier that it is indeed a great blessing to be able to study at the undergraduate/graduate level. At the beginning of today's ceremony, we read the second half of Verse 48 in Chapter 12 of the Gospel according to Luke. To each and every one of you who are here, much has already been given. Those graduates who walked the same path before you have become those to whom much has been entrusted and met what has been required. Please spend each day at ICU as a valuable one so that you may follow them. May the years ahead of us be fruitful. Congratulations on your entrance to ICU.