Spring Semester Entrance Ceremony 2021.4.3
I would like to warmly welcome and congratulate all 3,869 new students enrolled at Hiroshima University on this auspicious day. I would also like to express my heartfelt congratulations and respect to all of you who have excelled in achieving your objectives, despite the adversity of the COVID-19 pandemic which has continued for more than a year.
In view of the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to hold this entrance ceremony with only newly enrolled students participating. Please take this opportunity to express your gratitude to family members and relatives who have given you support and encouragement on numerous occasions.
As an ex-student of HU, I am so pleased to be able to share this ceremonial atmosphere with you today. Indeed, on this day 50 years ago, I enrolled in the HU School of Medicine.
As you commence your campus life here today, I would like you to know a little about Hiroshima University.
First of all, it is worth remembering that HU is a university that pursues peace. Four years after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, HU was established in 1949 on the land of Hiroshima with a strong spirit/ will of pursuing and protecting peace, by merging a group of predecessor schools of various specializations and traditions: Hiroshima University of Literature and Science, Hiroshima High School, Hiroshima Normal School, and Hiroshima Higher Technical School. One such predecessor school includes Hiroshima Normal School, the origin of which can be traced back to Hakushima School, which was established in 1874, less than ten years after the Meiji Restoration.
The founding principle of HU is ‘a single unified university, free and pursuing peace’. It was established by Mr. Tatsuo Morito, who became the first president after serving as Minister of Education, and it still forms the backbone philosophy of Hiroshima University. With such history behind it, HU now offers 30 Peace Subjects as part of its Peace Study program, which is compulsory for all new students.
In terms of education and research, in 2014 HU was selected as one of 13 universities for the ‘Top Global University Project’ (top type), and in 2018, it was selected as one of 13 universities for the ‘WISE (Doctoral Program for World-leading Innovative & Smart Education) Program’. HU is the only university in Chugoku and Shikoku that has been selected for these projects. As you can see, HU is highly valued as one of the leading comprehensive research universities in Japan. So, I would like you to be very proud of being able to study at this university.
HU is also making a concerted effort to become more international and multicultural. Of the 15,000 current students, comprising both undergraduate and graduate students, 1,750 are international students coming from 63 countries and regions, and one in nine students is an international student.
In addition, from August this year, we will start accepting students for the Arizona State University/Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Management-Hiroshima University Global Initiative at HU (Bachelor's degree). On this globalized campus, I would like you to make the first step from today towards becoming peace-pursuing, cultured individuals with an international mindset and a challenging spirit.
Meanwhile, there is one thing that I would like to remind you of: University admission itself is not the end goal; rather, it is just the starting line. You are living in an era where ‘what you have learned’ is more important than the university’s own brand. As you are at the starting point, I would like you to think about what you are going to study at HU.
Acquiring specialized knowledge is vital, but that is not enough. This is because the world---being faced with a wide range of crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, natural disasters, poverty, and international conflicts---is in need of a paradigm shift. When dealing with the issues that are unknown or that require innovative approaches, I must say that it is difficult to tackle them with the existing framework of the fragmented knowledge alone.
In order to achieve this, it is necessary to acquire a 360-degree perspective, which entails enhancing your viewpoint at a much higher and broader level, thus enabling more diversified points of view. I subscribe to the line of thought that learning at university is not about searching for one correct answer, but rather it is about identifying ‘questions’, then analyzing information yourself. This approach leads to searching for solutions from a broad perspective, while internalizing diverse knowledge.
A process such as this is surely underpinned by the ‘liberal arts’, which basically equate to ‘general education’. Originally, they refer to ‘sophistications’ that are essential qualities to enable life as a free human being. At university, a liberal arts education provides students with a multifaceted perspective, by exposing them to a wide range of academic fields such as the natural sciences, humanities/social sciences, and the arts, which are the embodiment of human wisdom.
Montaigne, one of France's leading philosophers of the 16th century Renaissance, describes a book as: ‘…the best munition I have found in this humane peregrination, and I extremely bewaile those men of understanding that want the same.’ Although times have changed since Montaigne’s days, what he said still holds true. In addition to your specific course textbooks, please open a range of books, including contemporary and ancient classics from both East and West. The stimulus gained from each literary encounter will hopefully initiate and sustain a lifelong habit of in-depth learning and contemplation of not only the ‘how’ but also the ‘why’. With this in mind, please lead an active campus life where you will make a habit of discussing your well-thought ideas with your friends or seniors or professors before boldly challenging something difficult based on your ideas. I just hope that whatever you will have attained through your learning process at HU will serve as your life-long guide. Currently, many HU graduates are being noticed for their outstanding performance in society, which I think is a direct result of acquiring such enduring learning attitudes.
Some of you may be feeling uneasy about enrolling in HU at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. At HU, all faculty and staff will do their utmost to support each and every one of you, so that you can study with good health and peace of mind.
Finally, I would like to conclude my ceremonial speech today by wishing you all a fruitful and enjoyable student life ahead. Congratulations once again!
3rd April 2021 (Reiwa 3)
Mitsuo Ochi, President of Hiroshima University