Address by Junko Hibiya, President
First year undergraduate and graduate students, welcome to ICU. Congratulations to family members, relatives, and friends who are watching this ceremony on the screen at Diffendorfer Memorial Hall.
When undergraduates who matriculate today graduate four years from now, in 2020, the Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo, for the second time. I entered primary school in April 1964, the year when Tokyo welcomed the first Olympicss. To this day, I clearly remember the opening ceremony on October 10th under a cloudless sky. In the Japan of those days, high school graduates who went to four-year colleges numbered 15.5%. The figure was 27.3% when I graduated from high school and matriculated exactly forty years ago in 1976, and surpassed 50% in 2009. In the past two years, it was 51.5%. In other words, one out of two goes to college in Japan today.
Given the above figures, some of you may take it for granted that you are enrolled in an institution of higher education, an undergraduate program in particular. However, it is worthwhile reminding ourselves that there are students who 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. As is clear from the situation in the world today, we must also acknowledge those who regrettably had to leave school much earlier. What will be required of you who have been fortunate enough to receive a secondary education and to be able to further your study?
A cornerstone that sets ICU apart from other universities is the respect paid to each person as a unique individual. This is epitomized by the fact that all students are called individually, by name, at the April and September matriculation ceremonies and at the March and June commencement ceremonies. This tradition has been faithfully upheld since the founding of the university for more than sixty years.
The first year students of the College of Liberal Arts must have read the "2016 Guidebook for Prospective Students." For its cover page, the photograph of the door of this Chapel is used. You will note that in the section explaining the four years at ICU, on page 62, it is written as follows; "there are as many ways of learning as the number of students. At ICU where each person is respected as an individual, the set curriculum for all students does not exist." The essence of the education here is to nurture intentional learners who are capable of studying creatively throughout their life.
Following today's matriculation ceremony and the orientation period, classes will begin next week. The path to bachelor's degree, or to the graduation, is up to each student's free will and proactive choice. What and how to study, which major to declare, whether to learn a language other than English, whether to study abroad, how to balance study and extracurricular activities, it is you, nobody else, who must decide. At the beginning of today's ceremony, we read Verses 7 and 8 in Chapter 7 of the Gospel according to Matthew. In order to find your own path, you must ask, search and knock. "For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."
In your undergraduate days, it is important to further your area of specialty. In addition, please attain the abilities that transcend the disciplinary boundaries; the ability to identify and resolve problems, the habit of listening carefully to questions and answering them appropriately when you communicate with others, cross-cultural understanding, teamwork, leadership, strong sense of integrity and responsibility as a global citizen.
Those who enter the Master's program are expected to cultivate a broad-based scholarship and to be able to carry out research in a specialized field of study or to learn the skills necessary as future professionals. Those who enter the Doctorate program must acquire the superior skills necessary as independent researchers in their chosen field of study or as highly-specialized professionals based on their scholarship. Keep asking, searching and knocking the door during your graduate school days.
ICU was founded in 1953 with the aim of cultivating capable individuals who will serve God and humankind. The purpose of attaining the abilities I have discussed in this address is exactly to serve God and humankind, in other words, to contribute to others and the world by fulfilling your mission. The next four years, two or three years if you are entering a master's or doctoral program, will be period in which, through your studies and extracurricular activities, you will discover what role you must fulfill in society and the world. May the years ahead of you be fruitful. Congratulations on your entrance to ICU.