Fall Semester Degree Conferment Ceremony 2015.9.25
On behalf of Hiroshima University, today I would like to offer my deepest and heartfelt congratulations to all of you gathered here today on this auspicious occasion, your graduation ceremony.
The diligence of each and every one of you, culminating in your award today, is something that I greatly respect.
You must also surely be feeling grateful to your loving, supportive family members, friends and teachers.
Here I would like to introduce Dr. Tomitaro Makino who is an “intellectual giant”, also known as the “Father of Japanese Botany”.
After dropping out of elementary school after two years, Dr. Makino continued to study botany by himself.
From the age of 31 to 77, he pursued his botanical interests as an assistant, later as a lecturer, at the Department of Botany of Tokyo Imperial University.
During his academic career, Dr. Makino collected approximately 400,000 botanical samples and named more than 1,500 specimens in total.
And at the age of 70, he was working as a visiting lecturer at the Hiroshima University of Literature and Science, one of the predecessors of Hiroshima University.
Despite his glorious achievements, Dr. Makino had never even attempted to earn a doctoral degree in science until the age of 65.
According to his autobiography, he had persistently refused to obtain the degree for years.
But in the end, he reluctantly submitted his doctoral thesis after having been persuaded by the people around him, who argued that it was unfitting for a prominent scholar like him to refuse to earn a doctoral degree, while younger scientists were well qualified.
His main thesis written in English was longer than 1,000 pages, showing his great research achievements on the plants of Japan.
“In principle, I think, that scientists don’t need any titles. Scientists need only science. A scholar should start from zero, become well known and in the end be recognized for his or her work. Then he or she can be called a fully-fledged scientist. I think that titles are meaningless.”
Having just received an academic degree today, you may well be surprised to hear me say that.
But Dr. Makino was the living proof of such words.
During his lifetime, he collected more than 45,000 Japanese and foreign books, and he possessed not only great knowledge of botany, but also of physics, chemistry, geography, agriculture, art, etc.
I want you to keep in mind that the degree you receive today should not be your final life-time goal.
You are only standing at the starting line of your career as an independent scholar.
Of course, you need a certain level of knowledge and research capability to obtain a degree, but a doctorate in the true sense demands other qualifications.
For example in Germany, one of the required abilities of a graduate-level scholar is to “have not only knowledge and understanding, but also an excellent problem-solving mind to use his/her experience to face unfamiliar and new phenomena. “
Furthermore, it is said that those who obtain a doctoral degree should “have an essential plan of research, intellectual honesty and independent academic thinking.”
And “they should cultivate the social, intellectual and cultural progress of a knowledge-based society in an academic as well as in a practical environment.”
In other words, I think that such scholars are capable of becoming the true pioneers of society and indeed of the world.
The frequent research misconduct and unethical behavior of our contemporary world stems from the bad habit of seeking immediate benefit and neglecting necessary qualifications and skills, which are intrinsic to every scientist.
There is no guarantee that all of your future problems will be easy to solve.
Only a wide-ranging and in-depth general education engraved upon your body and soul, - in other words a liberal arts’ infusion - will help you to overcome the difficulties which you may encounter in life.
Hiroshima University, which has its origins as the site of the world’s first atomic bombing, is proud of its traditions and the achievements of its national high- level liberal arts education.
I hope that all of you will become “peace-pursuing cultured individuals with international experience” and that you will continue to deepen your knowledge.
As you know, in August 2013 Hiroshima University was selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to be one of 22 institutes to foster the “Program for the Enhancement of Research Universities”.
And in September last year, as one of Japan’s top 13 universities, our university was selected by MEXT for the “Top Global University Project”, providing world-class research and education (Type A).
Our goal is to become a “University of World-wide Repute and Splendor for Years into the Future.” Indeed, with this in mind, now is the time for you to spread your wings around the world to pursue a wide range of research and educational activities. In conclusion, I hope that your road ahead will lead to a brilliant future, filled with promise and hope.
September 25th 2015
President, Hiroshima University