2016 Autumn Matriculation Address by Junko Hibiya, President

Update: September 05, 2016

I would like to extend my congratulations to all members of the incoming class. May I also offer warm greetings to those family members who are with us today. The class includes students from more than 40 countries.

ICU, the university which you enter today, was founded in 1953 as the first four-year liberal arts university in Japan, with the aim of cultivating capable individuals who will contribute to the peaceful development of the world. The original document presented to the Japanese Ministry of Education in the previous year stated, "students shall be selected from among those who empathize with the university's founding ideals without regard to their race, nationality, and religion." In order to realize our mission, we seek to admit students coming from diverse geographical, cultural and educational backgrounds. For the past sixty three years, ICU has been a place where varied cultures of students and faculty from around the world cross over. Coming from all over the world, you, September students, are expected to enrich the ICU student body with different and innovative ways in which to meet the challenges of the new global age.

ICU provides a broader sort of education that provides an encounter with the diverse spectrum of human knowledge, that cultivates students to able to think critically, make informed sound judgments and solve problems. The objective of our education emphasizes your own initiative in creating your curriculum. You will be constantly encouraged to become a person of your own design. Our goal is to nurture intentional learners who are able to study independently and to develop their own coherent learning program. For that purpose, ICU has maintained a consistent focus, since its foundation, on learning in small groups. This is because we believe class size to be essential to a good liberal arts education. The student-to-full-time-faculty ratio is currently 18 to 1. At ICU, "dialogue" is the heart of learning. Sustaining a constant dialogue between students and faculty members, as well as among students, is surely the key to helping you connect with academic themes of the past and of the moment. It allows for connecting in a concrete manner while probing at a deeper, more specialized level. Those who enter the graduate programs will be challenged to deepen their scholarly research. Our verdant 620,000-square-meter campus unmistakably makes for an environment where you can interact with faculty and staff, inside and outside the classroom. In this ambience, an unparalleled natural environment, you are invited to grow as a whole person.

Our first students matriculating in 1953 were called individually, by name, just like today, and each person signed a pledge to support the university philosophy, and abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. This has been the custom at every matriculation ceremony. Shortly, you will also take the "Student Pledge" and promise to lead a student life that adheres to the principles of this declaration. With this pledge, each of you will become, in name and reality, a member of the community that we call ICU. You are entrusted to work together with the faculty and staff to create our university's future. I am confident that in the next few years you will give serious thought to the meaning of your pledge and that you will try to embody the university's mission and ideals by applying yourself academically.

At the beginning of today's ceremony, we read Verses 3 through 5 in Chapter 12 of the Letter of Paul to the Romans. "In one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function." As we all know, each part of our body has a different function, but all are interconnected to serve the body as a whole. In similar manner, everyone is different, and this is because God has provided for each of you unique gifts. "We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another." Through the significance of the gifts you possess, you will gain an awareness of the calling 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 a period in which you will discover that calling. Whatever your gifts, you need an overall view to work out how best to make use of them. ICU can help provide this now and beyond.

In today's reading, Paul urges, "not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think; but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." If we spend our days using our gifts with humility, we can indeed work in unison and achieve wonderful results.
I wish you all a fulfilling experience at this university.Welcome to ICU.

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