Spring Semester Entrance Ceremony 2018.4.3

Spring Semester Entrance Ceremony 2018.4.3

Today, I would like to warmly welcome and congratulate all 3,960 new students enrolled at Hiroshima University. I am very happy to be able to celebrate this memorable day here with you. At the same time, I would like to offer my congratulations and thanks to your families and other significant people, who have supported you all the way. Perhaps today’s ceremony will instill in you a sense of gratitude.

Let me briefly give you a short history of Hiroshima University.
Hiroshima University was born under a new system in 1949. It has nine predecessor schools, which is the largest in number among any of Japan’s national universities, and such predecessor schools include Hiroshima University of Literature and Science; Hiroshima Higher Normal School; Hiroshima Normal School; Hiroshima High School; Hiroshima Higher Technical School; Hiroshima Medical College. Hakushima School is one of the oldest, dating back to its foundation in 1874, and in this sense, 2018 marks the 144th anniversary of Hiroshima University. “Diversity” has become a major characteristic of Hiroshima University, thanks to these various predecessor schools, diverse in character and traditions, having been blended to form the base of the university.
The founding principle of Hiroshima University, “a single unified university, free and pursuing peace,” was proposed by Mr. Tatsuo Morito, who became the first President of Hiroshima University after resigning from the position of Minister of Education. It is because of this founding principle that “Peace Related Subjects” are compulsory for all the undergraduate students of Hiroshima University. By further enhancing the guiding principle of “the pursuit of peace,” which has been passed down and cultivated by past alumni of Hiroshima University, I would like to create “Science for Sustainable Development” with you.

Currently, Hiroshima University has approximately 15,000 students as well as 1,700 international students from 75 countries or regions. Hiroshima University has been selected as one of the 22 member universities of “The Program for Promoting the Enhancement of Research” and one of the 13 “Top Type universities under MEXT’s Top Global University Project.” This clearly shows that Hiroshima University is highly regarded by MEXT as a research university capable of pursuing its goal, to become one of the Top 100 Universities in the world. The School of Informatics and Data Science (the 12th School at HU) and the Department of Integrated Global Studies have been launched at the School of Integrated Arts and Sciences from this academic year. This epitomizes the fact that we continue to welcome challenges and developments, always looking towards a better future.

Some of you here may be feeling quite relieved as you have finally been accepted into Hiroshima University after spending a long, hard time preparing for the entrance examination. However, I would like you to remember that you have just set foot on the starting line of a marathon race called “life.”

In the past, Hiroshima University has been holding lectures where a Nobel Laureate is invited as a guest speaker to conduct a public lecture presentation. So far, we have invited five world-class researchers, including Dr. Shinya Yamanaka. This year’s guest speakers will be Dr. Yoshinori Ôsumi in May, and Dr. Hiroshi Amano in July. In addition, we hold special lecture events called “Liberal Arts Education for Spreading Your Wings around the World” throughout the year where leaders in their respective fields deliver lectures at Hiroshima University. I hope that you will learn something from these excellent lecturers that will serve as a guiding principle in your life, making the most of what you hear to enrich your campus life.

William Blake, the 18th century British poet, wrote the quatrain (a complete poem consisting of four lines) “Auguries of Innocence.” Since the entire poem is too long, let me just quote the first four famous lines:

To see a World in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.

These four lines demonstrate that there is no limit to the imagination of a human being; a thought which I find encouraging. I personally think that without the unlimited power of the imagination and motivations of a human being, it would be difficult to open the door to progress. If the Wright Brothers had not wished to be able to fly in the sky like birds, or if Mr. Steve Jobs had not thought of “selling a dream,” there might not have been airplanes or iPhones in the world now. To realize that our imagination can change the world and to believe in our potential, are the first most important step to be taken.

With “innovations” being called for in the present climate, I feel that there is a tendency to focus more on the “how” (the method). Whilst I would not deny the fact that it is certainly important to value the “how,” I would like you to also consider the “why” (i.e. the reasons behind things), including challenging various things where and when appropriate. University is a place where you think about the “why” behind problems which may not have obvious solutions. 

In light of the fact that we are living in an uncertain era, a university with the spirit of freedom and open-mindedness is much sought-after, and this epitomizes Hiroshima University with its founding principle “a single unified university, free and pursuing peace.” I am hoping to unlock the future of Hiroshima University with you.

By wishing all of you a fruitful and enjoyable student life ahead, I would like to conclude my ceremonial speech today.

3rd April 2018
Mitsuo Ochi, President of Hiroshima University