Autumn Term Entrance Ceremony 2020.10.1
On behalf of Hiroshima University, I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations on your entrance to Hiroshima University. I am very pleased to welcome all of the 292 new students enrolled at Hiroshima University today. Also, my congratulations go to those new students who have not been able to join us for this ceremony due to COVID-19 pandemic.
If we look back over the first six months of this year, it is clear that the whole world has been in the grasp of COVID-19 pandemic. As you are no doubt aware, the virus, which is believed to have originated from some wild animals acting as carriers, has spread around the world in no time. It is hardly an exaggeration to state that this pandemic is the most devastating disaster that the human race has ever had to face since the end of World War II.
Jared Diamond, an evolutionary biologist, is the author of ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel’, who once said, ‘Microbes have often shaped human history. In the book, he warns that there are four global threats which represent an existential threat to the survival of our species and also have the potential to cripple permanently our economy and standard of living. These threats are as follows: i) the detonation of large numbers of nuclear weapons; ii) climate change; iii) the unsustainable use of essential resources; and iv) the enormous differences in standard of living between the world’s people---this destabilizes our globalized existence. These four threats will do far more lasting damage to us than COVID-19 will. The author wrote that if the world could be united and cooperate across the borders, and stand against COVID-19 catastrophe to overcome national crises, this may lead to the discovery of unprecedented solutions to these four threats. I completely agree with him here.
It has been 75 years since the first atomic bomb in human history was dropped on the city of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In 1949, only four years after the city was ruined by the atomic bomb, HU was established with the founding principle of ‘a single unified university, free and pursuing peace’. Such an unflagging will to pursue peace has been passed down from generation to generation. 6 August 2020 saw the delivery of the “2020 Students’ HIROSHIMA Declaration” by 12 HU students from six countries/regions as a message of peace to the world.
In 2014, HU was selected as one of the 13 Type A (Top Type) universities under the ‘Top Global University Project’, fully committed to globalizing its campus and implementing university reforms, while continuingly establishing more track records with a set goal of AY 2023. Last year saw about 3,000 international students come to study at HU. Since my inauguration as President of HU five years ago, the number of international students has grown 1.5 times, while more efforts have been made by the university to accept international students with some disabilities.
In July this year, Hiroshima University newly signed another Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Arizona State University (hereafter shortened as ‘ASU’), in the USA. This led to this month’s establishment of an international branch of ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management campus within HU, on the Higashi-Hiroshima Campus. It is the first time for a Japanese national university to attract an international branch of a foreign university to establish itself on campus as part of the Japanese university. The Minister of MEXT has kindly given very encouraging words to such initiative of HU. With HU accepting students from Japan and overseas countries/regions, as well as a group of faculty members of ASU coming to teach at the Campus, HU is expected to develop into a more globalized institution with a markedly international campus.
Enrolling at HU today while the COVID-19 is still rampant in the world, you may be filled with a mixture of expectation and anxiety. Be that as it may, I am certain that the future will open its door to you as long as you endure with a strong will and passion to make this world a better place.
With the third term commencing from tomorrow, about 50% of all classes are to be delivered as in-person lectures. HU is committed to your full support, so that you will hopefully feel ‘very pleased to have studied at HU.’
Congratulations once again!
1st October 2020 (Reiwa 2)
President, Hiroshima University