Congratulations on your entrance to our university. I extend my compliments to your family and relations, and my gratitude to all of you for your attendance today.
We are welcoming 516 new students this year, and it gives me great joy to be able to start this new page in Ochanomizu University’s history with you all.
Ochanomizu University is now most focused on producing women leaders who can thrive on a global stage. This combines two aspects—education for international skills and leadership education.
Last academic year we were selected for the Project for Promotion of Global Human Resources Development by MEXT (The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), and are currently strengthening our education system for internationalization. There are only four national universities, including Ochanomizu University, that are tackling this project with a university-wide effort. We are now focusing on strengthening language skills and expanding our programs for studying abroad so that students have more opportunities for international experiences.
As for leadership education, I believe this is an important role of national women’s universities. Leadership education is not education for students who want to become leaders in the future—rather, it is education to prepare students for when, in the future, they are given the responsibilities of leadership. I believe that in many cases, people become leaders because their circumstances demand it, not because they desire it.
This is why our leadership education stands on the principles of intelligence, courtesy and flexibility. Students of higher education institutions must acquire solid knowledge, and use that as a foundation to pursue further wisdom. In addition to this, we want our students to be considerate to others, have confidence, and be accepting of diversity.
The most crucial skill that students must acquire while in university is the intelligence to think, act and judge appropriately and according to each situation, on the premise that we all exist together on this earth, whether working on an international stage or exhibiting leadership.
Women’s social progress is a particularly prominent issue today. This is based on the fact that, by international standards, Japanese women are grossly unrepresented in society’s decision-making processes. The ratio of women in management positions is still close to 10% (12.4% as of 2011). This ratio is, by any standard, small when considering that the university entrance rate of women is 45%, and that this number had already reached 30% ten years ago. The country set forth the goal of bringing up the percentage of women’s participation in decision-making processes to 30% by 2020. This should not be an impossible goal in light of women’s university entrance rate.
As a national women’s university with the longest history, Ochanomizu University’s mission is to provide education that allows women to be socially active more than ever. Thus we have established our leadership education and the Project for Promotion of Global Human Resource Development.
Another important reason why women’s social progress is necessary—indeed, more important than the numbers—is because greater participation by women will help facilitate diversity by bringing new perspectives into our society, and as a result revitalize and enrich our society.
We have been conducting educational reforms in our undergraduate courses in order to allow students to acquire fundamental and basic knowledge necessary for being active in society. Specifically, these reforms are the 21st Century Liberal Arts Education Integrating Humanities and Sciences, and the Multiple Program Elective Course System. Our new liberal arts education allows students to cross borders between disciplines of humanities and sciences, and learn ways to multilaterally analyze real issues, while the elective course system pushes students to be active in selecting programs in order to deepen their specialties as well as experience different yet related fields.
One student who graduated this year described our undergraduate course system in an address expressing her gratitude.
Ochanomizu University’s liberal arts course was fascinating to me during my first and second years of college. My teachers from a variety of fields taught me the fun and seriousness of learning, and my fellow students inspired me. The diverse learning and basic knowledge that I acquired during those years truly helped me see and consider things in a broader, deeper sense when later pursuing my own specialized field and preparing my thesis.
It is a great joy to hear such voices of graduating students.
The issues that our society faces are complex. The solutions must combine broad, multifaceted perspectives and substantial, solid expertise. I hope that your studies at Ochanomizu University will equip you with new perspectives, discerning analytical skills, and flexible and accurate judgment.
Our university has Japan’s oldest school song, and it expresses our basic guiding principle in education.
Migakazuba tamamo kagamimo nanikasen
Manabino michimo kakukoso arikere
(Unless you polish it, a jewel or mirror is nothing
The path of learning is the same)
Our university’s history began 138 years ago when the country established our predecessor, the Tokyo Women’s Normal School, as an educational institution for women. At the time the campus was located in Yushima, near today’s Ochanomizu Station. The school’s original nickname, “the school at Ochanomizu,” is said to be the origin of our name today. The school buildings at Yushima were destroyed in the fires of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, and nine years later (1932) it was rebuilt in the current location. That was about 80 years ago.
It is this history that led to the construction of this building in reinforced concrete with maximum earthquake and fire resistance. The design should also be noted, such as the scratched brick exterior which was a popular style at the time, or the entrance floor made from high-quality Japanese marble and featuring the same design as the national diet’s floor. These details symbolize the high hopes that society saw in this university at the time, and I believe that we have consistently lived up to such expectations.
The main gate, the attached Kindergarten, the main building and this auditorium are national registered tangible cultural properties. In particular, this auditorium named Kiindo is a construction that represents learning in our university. It accepts all who aspire to learn, from students of our attached schools to graduate students, and provides a starting point from which to step forward into society.
Learning at university must not merely be an acquisition of knowledge; it must be the creation of knowledge. Some say that knowledge is power, or that knowledge and power are the same. In order for knowledge to be power, however, we must be prepared to reconsider everything we know. To have solid basic knowledge, and to redefine our preconceived knowledge upon that basis, to acquire a diverse perspective, and to create new knowledge: This is the stance of our university.
I hope that those who learn at our university are sensitive to social movements so that you live up to society’s expectations of this school, but more importantly so that you use your knowledge as power to make yourself heard in society, lead society, and create a truly rich society.
I conclude with a wish to see you find a fulfilling student life at this campus, polish your intelligence, and grow into women with intelligent power.
Again, congratulations on your new beginning at this school. Thank you.
April 4, 2014
President, Ochanomizu University
Ochanomizu University Homepage Steering Committee
2-1-1 Otsuka, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-8610, Japan
Copyright © OCHANOMIZU UNIVERSITY. All rights reserved.