President Address AY 2022 Entrance Ceremony
To all our new students, congratulations on your admission to Gifu University. We are extremely pleased to have 1,352 new undergraduate students, and 596 graduate students join our campus this new academic year, and on behalf of the University faculty and staff, I welcome all of you. I am sure you are excited and eager to embark on a new journey. We all share and welcome the sense of freshness you will bring into this new place of study. On a personal note, I had the honor of being appointed the 13th President of Gifu University on April 1, 2022, and I am truly grateful to share this new beginning with all of you as we commence on 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 on our daily lives. However, even this unprecedented adversity did not break your strong determination to work hard to enter this new place of study in Gifu University. I can assure you that you have made the thoughtful choice about the academic direction you want to take by choosing this university. I would also like to take this opportunity to appreciate all the people including your guardians and supervisors who have supported you every step of the way.
Due to the continually evolving nature of Covid-19 and undoubtedly for safety precautions, the in-person Entrance Ceremony here at the Nagaragawa Convention Center will be held in three ceremonies today separated by faculties and graduate schools, and the presence of limited attendees. The Ceremony will also be livestreamed on Gifu University YouTube in its entirety for those who are not able to attend in person.
As a comprehensive general university deeply rooted in local communities, Gifu University consists of six faculties, namely, Education, Applied Biological Sciences, Regional Studies, Engineering, Medicine and the newly established School of Social System Management in April 2021. Although the University was officially founded in 1949, our institution's history actually could be traced back to the founding of Gifu Normal School in 1873, making us veritably the fourth oldest university in Japan. The establishment of Gifu Normal School was subsequently followed by the Faculty of Applied Biological Sciences (in 1923), and the Faculty of Engineering and the School of Medicine (both in the 1940s). Moreover, Gifu University Hospital goes as far back as 1875 when the public hospital buildings and university's affiliated medical school were relocated to Tsukasa Town, Gifu City. I invite you to view the display of rich archives on and off campus where you can explore the University's invaluable historic and academic assets in both real and virtual platforms.
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 a wider range of joint educational and research projects between Nagoya University and Gifu University. This makes you the 3rd cohort of students under this joint system.
As we enter into an important juncture in our university's history this year, which marks the beginning of a 6-year "Fourth Midterm Objectives and Plan" set by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), we the university leaders have a pledge for you. Dr. Seiichi Matsuo (THERS Chancellor), Dr. Naoshi Sugiyama (President of Nagoya University), and I are fully committed to jointly pursuing our goals of achieving dynamic, robust growth and greater academic excellence under this unique platform of academic integration.
Currently, we are living in extraordinary times in the history of nations, when we are witnessing that various regions around the world are robustly interconnected more than ever. Unprecedented times like these call for more proactive individual undertakings that contribute to the well-being of local citizens towards attaining global prosperity, and this is particularly true when the dynamics of globalization is increasingly prevailing around the world. To navigate through this huge wave of globalization, we, as a learning hub, are deeply committed to becoming an agent for community transformation and revitalization.
Now, 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: 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 drawn up 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 play a game-changing role in the field of life and medical sciences through more intense engagement in interdisciplinary research activities. *name tentative
Secondly, 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 and also placing cultivation of human resources as its first priority in an aim to generate the state-of-the-art aerospace business cluster in the Tokai region, and will also continue to pioneer advanced aerospace industries globally.
Thirdly, 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. in order to address 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 pushing forth the five objectives of "Human Resource Developments," "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 make it possible to further expand our educational and research boundaries and bolster our community contributions. Nurturing the next-generation human resources capable of translating our goals and ideals into reality is admittedly a daunting challenge in these days of globalization, but we are engaged in partnering with our students' journey in learning, exploring and contributions towards the realization of their dreams and ambitions. I sincerely hope that a talent pool arising from our university can create the conditions in society where all our citizens can lead fulfilling, rewarding lives in their own communities at home and abroad.
Providing opportunities for our student to learn and explore in your chosen field of study or research remains our utmost priority at all times. The implementation of in-person classes on campus while following prevention measures, along with lectures and classes offered virtually will maximize learning opportunities for all.
Further down the road when we look past the Covid era, we are likely to witness both the dynamic digital revolution and globalization taking place at greater speed. And this trend will very likely be here to stay in many years to come. To foster young talents who are capable of riding out and surviving our age of "digital transformation," Nagoya and Gifu Universities are jointly formulating novel human resource development schemes. For instance, the Academic Central for English and Mathematical Data Science Education jointly operated by the two universities focuses on cultivation of human resources who can create quote "a human-centered society that balances economic advancement with the resolution of social problems by a system that highly integrates cyberspace and physical space (Society 5.0)"unquote. Our unique, distinctive educational curriculums can serve the best interests of our students in building their own future with strong commitment and courage. Additionally, the University is currently placing a strong emphasis on the distinct fields of liberal arts, mathematical data science, and design thinking. In design thinking, students learn how to become proactive in developing their research agenda, enhancing their problem-solving skills, and evaluating the efficacy and economic potentials and feasibility of different solutions reached.
In Gifu University, approximately 7,500 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled annually, of them around 500 are international students and researchers. To this day, the University has more than 50 overseas partner universities in 19 countries stretching from Europe, the United States, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Some faculties are offering strong support for students who wish to study abroad in the near future. Our nation today is at an important crossroads of urgently expanding our global reach, but to fulfill this crucial mission, robust interactive exchanges among students, scholars and citizens are indispensable. We are placing high hopes that Gifu University students can best utilize various study abroad support programs to explore and experience the world outside.
You will be glad to know that all of our unique and diverse academic and research initiatives that Gifu University continues to advance are taught and supervised by our outstanding team of academic staff whose world-class achievements and contributions are well recognized in their respective global academic communities. Gifu University students can further their learning by taking advantage of various interdisciplinary courses being offered by different faculties and schools and absorb the wisdom and skills necessary to carry on their goals. To cite some examples, on-campus and off-campus courses offered by Zenkyo General Education or other diverse educational curriculums offered by THERS provide ample opportunities to gain wider academic and research perspectives. Gifu University's academic support and assistance do not stop there. We continue to provide our graduates the support needed even after graduation whichever career paths you may pursue, whether one decides to enter the workforce as a full-fledged member of society or seek an academic career as researchers.
Starting from today, you are a full member of this Gifu University community and by our national standards, eligible adults with the future, and the present, of this country in your hands. May you consciously keep this advice in your mind that your approach to learning will reflect on the level of self-responsibility and self-determination you take in your life. Think things through before initiating any actions and never waver to attain the goals you set for yourself. I'd 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 showoff 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 stay 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. Keep the university's ideals and aims of "Learning, Exploring, and Contributing" as your guiding principle and make a step forward together.
Finally, let me close by wishing you a campus life of fulfillment in all its aspects, studying, training, making friends, talking about life or seeking the truths. Take some time out to explore and appreciate the beautiful natural surroundings on campus. We are all eager to be your supporters and your guide 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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