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Office of the President

Message from the President

Academic Year 2017 Autumn Commencement Ceremony (September 25th, 2017)

It is my honor to be here today to congratulate you on the successful completion of your studies at Kyushu University and to thank your family members who have supported you in your studies and research, the teachers who have guided you, and the many others who have been an influential part of your academic life.

I am happy to report that 397 of you are being awarded degrees: 43 a bachelor’s degree, 168 a master’s degree, 4 a professional degree, and 182 a doctorate. 255 of you are international students. I would like to express my deepest respect to you for your dedication to your studies and give my heartfelt congratulations on being awarded your degrees today.

During the years that you have spent here, Kyushu University has changed tremendously. I would like to talk to you about these changes. Twelve years have passed since the autumn of 2005, when the first group from our engineering programs relocated here to the Ito Campus. The development of the Ito Campus is progressing steadily. The first and second stages of the Ito Campus relocation program have been completed and we are now in the final stage. As of this autumn, there are about 12,000 students, staff, and faculty members here, a figure that will increase to approximately 20,000 in 2018.

This is an aerial photograph of the Ito Campus. The engineering buildings, the Faculty of Arts and Science, and the science buildings have all been completed. Next autumn, in the 2018 academic year, the agricultural and humanities and social science programs are due to relocate here, completing the relocation project. Many architecturally advanced buildings have been constructed on the Ito Campus over the last few years. These include the Shiiki Hall, the International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research, the Ito Guest House, the Center for Co-Evolutional Social Systems, the second building of the International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research, Dormitory 3, and Ito Harmony House.

The General Research Building for our science faculty was completed in 2015, and a pre-opening ceremony for the new Central Library took place last year. Next year, buildings will be completed for the new Central Library and our humanities and social sciences faculties, along with the General Research Building for the Faculty of Agriculture. The Hospital, Ohashi, and Chikushi Campuses are also undergoing redevelopment. At the same time, buildings on the Hakozaki Campus are steadily being dismantled with a view to the sale of the site.

The world has seen many changes, both within Japan and overseas, since you joined the university. I would like to look back over these events. For graduate students, on the international front, in 2011, New Zealand was struck by an earthquake and Thailand by flooding; in 2012, Syria’s civil war entered into stalemate; and in 2013, the year undergraduate students arrived, the Philippines was hit by a typhoon and a huge earthquake struck Sichuan Province in China. 2014 saw a serious outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Africa and the emergence of ISIL, in 2015, Nepal suffered a major earthquake, while diplomatic relations between the USA and Cuba were restored. And in 2016, the UK held a referendum on the future of its membership in the European Union and a majority voted to leave, causing widespread anxiety about the future of the global economy.
On a more positive note, the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and Paralympics marked the first time that the Olympic Games had been held in South America, with a record-breaking 206 countries and regions taking part.

2017 has seen a number of major natural disasters and terrorist attacks across the globe, which have claimed many precious lives. Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency. At 39, he became the youngest ever president of France. Due to repeated missile tests by North Korea, international tension has grown.

Closer to home, the most significant event of the last few years was undoubtedly the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. Almost 16,000 people lost their precious lives as a result of the earthquake and the tsunami that it triggered. It will take many, many years to clean up after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. 2012 saw the inauguration of the Abe Cabinet. The year 2013 saw Tokyo chosen to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

In the three years from 2014 to 2016, six Japanese researchers won the Nobel Prize. The biggest event in 2016 was the Kumamoto Earthquake. Not one, but two earthquakes with a seismic intensity of 7, the highest level on the Japan Meteorological Agency’s scale, struck Kyushu. I am sure that these earthquakes were a terrifying experience for all of you here today.

On July 5 and 6, torrential rains occurred in Northern Kyushu. This disaster caused extensive damage to Northern Kyushu, especially for Asakura city, Fukuoka. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest condolences to those who lost their lives and my very best wishes for a quick recovery to those who suffered loss or injury as a result of the disaster. Kyushu University formed an “investigation, recovery, and reconstruction assistance mission” through the collaboration of our researchers and students in various fields, and provided effective assistance to the disaster area. On a more positive note, Fukuoka’s Oki-island was selected as a World Cultural Heritage site.

The biggest news for Kyushu University was the announcement that the name and symbol for element 113 were approved as “nihonium and (Nh)”, as proposed by Professor Kosuke Morita. Also, Professor emeritus Mitsutoshi Nakano was awarded the Order of Culture Medal. We at Kyushu University are honored by this accolade.
Kyushu University received an accreditation from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to open in April 2018 a new undergraduate school for the first time in the past 51 years, named the School of Interdisciplinary Science and Innovation.

To commemorate the centenary of its founding and pave the way for its next century, Kyushu University established a new slogan in 2011: Lead in the Next 100 Years, Leap to the Best 100 in the World.

We have recently began implementing the Kyushu University Action Plan 2015-2020. It features six key tasks.

  1. Conducting research at the highest global standard and encouraging innovation
  2. Fostering global talent
  3. Contributing to the local and international communities through advanced medical care
  4. Developing an enhanced campus that students, staff, and faculty members can be proud of
  5. Organizational reform
  6. A university that develops in tandem with society

We have set out specific proposals and a roadmap for each task and are working hard to bring these to fruition.

This, then, is the state of the world, Japan, and Kyushu University as you all set out on a new path today. As representatives of the university, in order to create a better world, it is vital for us to acknowledge and respect each other’s differences and diversity, whether in terms of ethnic background, religion, culture, or perceptions, and to promote and maintain a variety of exchanges and interaction, especially in the fields of research and education.

I believe that we also need to present a prescription for the future of society, proposing and spreading new values and cultural directions. From what I have seen of your many accomplishments during your time at Kyushu University, I have very high hopes for your future success in creating a better world.

I am sure that you will face various difficulties in the years to come. When you are confronted by problems, it is important to have a motto or mindset to encourage you. As my parting gift to you, I would like you to remember the three Cs: Challenge. Change. Creation.

Even after you graduate, Kyushu University will always be with you, supporting your efforts and cherishing our links with you through our various alumni associations and the many contacts you have made during your time here.

I hope that you will be proud to be alumni of Kyushu University and that you will use what you have learned here to pursue your dreams and to blaze a trail to the future, becoming leaders who provide the impetus that will drive global society. I bid you farewell and good luck.

September 25, 2017
Chiharu Kubo
President, Kyushu University

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