President's Address AY 2022 Entrance Ceremony for Graduate School Students
To all our new students, congratulations on your admission to the graduate schools of Gifu University. We are extremely elated to have 596 new graduate students join our campus this new academic year. On behalf of the University faculty and staff, I would like to express my warmest welcome to all of you. I am truly grateful to share this new beginning with you as we commence a new chapter of our lives.
Over the past two years, we have all experienced the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which has resulted in many restrictions and disruptions in our daily lives. However, even this unprecedented adversity failed to break your determination to advance to the graduate schools of our university. I can assure you that you have made a wise choice about the direction to take for higher academic achievements in your field of expertise. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to all the people, including your guardians and supervisors, who have supported you every step of the way.
Currently, Gifu University offers four masters', including a Professional Degree Program, two doctoral programs, two united graduate schools programs, and one joint graduate school program. Most notably, the Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology (master's) was established for students to learn unique interdisciplinary subjects combining engineering and applied biological sciences. For instance, in its design thinking course, students are instructed to collectively address diverse socioeconomic issues and find solutions. Design thinking education is pivotal in developing and expanding our graduate school education today. The strong commitment of the students of the Professional Degree Program (Graduate School of Education), Joint Graduate School of Veterinary Sciences, and Joint Graduate School (Ph.D. Program) in Science of School Education Hyogo University of Teacher Education to academic and research success is also reinforcing the high quality of our graduate school education. Moreover, I am pleased to welcome the new students of the United Graduate School of Drug Discovery and Medical Information Sciences (UGSVS), and it is our honor to have the presence of President Hideaki Hara of Gifu Pharmaceutical University, our partner university jointly forming UGSVS to share this moment of joy with us.
In the "New Normal" of life with COVID-19, the acceleration of digital transformation ("DX"), the globalization and cultivation of human resources who are capable of, quote unquote, "creating a human-centered society that balances economic advancement with the resolution of social problems through a system that highly integrates the cyberspace and physical space (Society 5.0)" are pressing forward a dynamic shift from capital-intensive to knowledge-intensive social and business structures. The real challenge for Gifu University in this vibrant, turbulent era lies in keeping on motivating students to learn how to apply their ideas for the well-being of citizens in the community. Our endeavors to this end will undoubtedly make Gifu University a learning center widely open and accessible to the people in the community. We make contributions to the community, and the community works with us. Our close ties with the community drive the University to grow into a matured learning hub full of joy and excitement. Today, we are keenly aware that anyone who possesses a global mindset can serve as a great contributor and important stakeholder to build a community of fulfillment. Accordingly, we make continued efforts to ensure that every research initiative undertaken at our university has clear global objectives and missions for the community.
As a proud new member of our graduate schools, you are much expected to grow into a highly skilled professional capable of sparking revolutions in society. Furthermore, active collaboration with the community and contributions to local citizens are also indispensable attributes for our students. I am convinced that our university's ideals of "providing students with a place to learn, explore, and contribute in an environment conducive to exploration and growth" can be embodied by diligent, responsible Gifu University individuals who devote themselves to their research with great patience and serve the best interests of society.
Our nation is standing at a critical juncture to increase its research and technological prowess and transform higher education to embrace dynamic changes and reforms in partnering with leading universities worldwide. To keep up with the times, Japanese universities need to attain global excellence while working closely with the community. All faculty members of Gifu University are ready to provide our utmost support for students who wish to advance their studies in doctoral programs, explore their scholarly interests, and meet the nation's academic ambitions in the coming days.
Acquiring and accumulating knowledge and expertise do not always keep you afloat of the rapid changes occurring around the globe. A significant paradigm shift is taking shape globally triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, the acceleration of climate change, frequent natural disasters, challenges of poverty, international disputes, etc. The traditional approach of gathering wisdoms is no longer viable before an array of global challenges on an unprecedented scale, compounded by technological breakthroughs and innovations. Studying liberal arts in depth could serve as your guiding principle in tackling and seeking solutions to these daunting challenges unfolding globally.
Basic research conducted during your days of graduate school is likely to take 20 or 30 years before its results become readily available for the greater good and can "give back to the community." Let me discuss my own struggles as a young PhD student. While I was engaging in molecular biology research on cancer cells, I was excited about the possibility of eradicating cancer because at that time, cancer genes and cancer growth prohibitive genes were discovered successively, prompting us to unravel the mystery of cancer development. However, while we were confronted with more unknowns coming to the surface, we lost heart and became confused. Thirty years on, I am truly overwhelmed to realize that our unwavering resolve to solve the mystery of cancer culminated in finally reaching major medical breakthroughs, including the creation of new molecularly targeted drugs and immune checkpoint inhibitors. Like myself, you may feel completely helpless in front of insurmountable challenges ahead along the way, but please hold your head high and continue exploring your dreams until they materialize.
Now, I would like to quote a well-known Zen proverb of Chinese origin, "mokkei shiyani naku," which translates into English as "be patient and make constant, strenuous efforts not for showing off, but for true success in life." In any learning path one takes, you will undoubtedly find yourself struggle as you venture into many unknowns, but remain focused on the tasks at hand with might and persistence and act with integrity. Arm yourself with diligence, tenacity, and sincerity to help you navigate through uncertain times and successfully break through any hardships that come your way.
This year marks the third anniversary of the establishment of Japan's first academic integration scheme in April 2020 called "Tokai National Higher Education and Research System ("THERS")." The creation of this joint entity has facilitated a deeper engagement in more diverse joint educational and research projects between Nagoya University and Gifu University. As we enter into an important juncture in our university's history this year, which marks the beginning of a six-year "Fourth Midterm Objectives and Plan" set by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), we, the university leaders, are fully committed to jointly pursuing our goals of achieving dynamic and robust growth, greater academic excellence in the world, and prominent academic hubs in regions under this unique platform of academic integration.
Let me briefly introduce some of the major undertakings that THERS has already initiated. While embracing our tenet of "attaining global competence," the advancement of THERS' four core educational and research directives has witnessed fast-paced progress. These directives are namely: the Institute for Glyco-core Research (iGCORE), Aerospace Research and Education Hub (AREH), Center for Healthcare Information Technology (C-HiT), and Education and Research Institute for Agricultural Sciences.
Next, I would like to highlight some eminent aspects of our undertakings and directives. The "Human Glycome Project" plan, formulated by the members of iGCORE, won the accreditation of "Joint Usage/Research Center: Glyco Science Collaboration Network Base*" of MEXT. As a crucial collaboration network base, iGCORE is highly expected to be instrumental in the field of life and medical sciences through more intense engagement in interdisciplinary research activities. *name tentative
Second, fifty percent of our national aerospace-related industries are concentrated around the Tokai area. Blessed with this ideal business environment, and supported by the state government and Gifu Prefecture, AREH is implementing diverse R&D programs while prioritizing the cultivation of human resources to generate a state-of-the-art aerospace business cluster in the Tokai region. Moreover, it will continue to pioneer advanced aerospace industries globally.
Third, the Center for Healthcare Information Technology (C-HiT) is playing a vanguard role in pinpointing the causes of diseases, developing new treatments, preventing illnesses, and creating new medicines, etc., to address the socioeconomic issues attributed to our rapidly aging Japanese society.
Many promising undertakings by the Education and Research Institute for Agricultural Sciences are also underway.
Under our newly set mission of "Migration, Laboratory, Innovation, Education," Gifu University is advancing the five objectives of "Human Resource Development," "Food Manufacturing," "Product Manufacturing," "Creation of Businesses and Community-Building," and "Development of New Medical System." We believe the concepts of community co-creation, pioneering research projects, innovations, and strategic education promotion schemes will enable the further expansion of our educational and research boundaries and bolster our community contributions. I sincerely hope that a talent pool arising from our university can create conditions in society in which all our citizens can lead fulfilling, rewarding lives in their own communities domestically and abroad.
Starting from today, you are a full member of this Gifu University community and by our national standards, eligible adults with the present and future of this country in your hands. May you consciously remember the following as you proceed with a new chapter in life; "What do you learn, what do you learn for, and how you use your expertise for society." The same question is being posed to all faculty members of Gifu University.
Finally, let me close by wishing you a campus life of fulfillment in all aspects. We are all eager to be your supporters and guides in realizing your hopes, dreams, and aspirations. I welcome you all and please join us in making your university years the best ever.
April 7, 2022
President of Gifu University
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