Words of Welcome for Incoming Students (April 1, 2020)

Words of Welcome for Incoming Students (April 1, 2020)

Wed, Apr 1, 2020
Words of Welcome for Incoming Students (April 1, 2020)

Words of Welcome for Incoming Students

April 1, 2020
Aiji Tanaka
President, Waseda University

To all incoming students, congratulations on your entrance to Waseda University! I extend heart-felt congratulations to you, also, of course, to your parents, other family members, and friends. On behalf of Waseda University, I am delighted to take this opportunity to offer some words of welcome.

I had hoped I could have greeted you in person at the entrance ceremony, but that was cancelled on account of the global spread of the coronavirus.

Waseda’s entrance ceremony is a time when you celebrate your hope and intention to study at Waseda University and begin to plan your student life. It was with great regret that we had to cancel this special event. The faculty and staff, including myself, are much saddened, and I know what a great disappoint it is to you, your families and friends, and others who had been looking forward to the event. On behalf of all of us at Waseda University, I express my deep apology for having to make this decision.

Let me explain why we decided as we did. Waseda University has three important missions. Firstly, and it goes without saying, we are committed to providing students with an excellent education. Secondly, we are committed to conducting academic research that sustains our education no matter how hard has become the environment in which we all work. Lastly, but most importantly, we are also committed to ensuring that students can work in a safe and healthy environment. Because of this paramount priority, we cancelled the entrance ceremony for spring 2020.

For the incoming students this spring, I would like to share our vision for Waseda’s future with you. Since I was inaugurated as President, on November 5, 2018, I have been advocating a new long-term goal for Waseda: to make Waseda one of the world’s top-tier universities, no matter how long that may take.

The reason behind my thinking is that the top universities in the U.S. took 40 years to catch up with the leading universities in Europe. In the early 1930s, American giants including Harvard, Columbia, and Yale were far behind their top European counterparts such as Oxford and the University of Paris, but they were committed to catching up. That is exactly what they did—and indeed, they went on to surpass them in the 1970s following 40 years of dedication and effort.

Unless we at Waseda make up our minds to catch up with today’s leading universities, Waseda will not become one of those top-tier institutions. Those who now teach at or work for Waseda should strive to work together to achieve that goal. At the same time, you students should have faith that you now belong to a university that will surely be one of the world’s leading universities in the future. I would like to ask each of you to contribute to people around the globe in some way, and make Waseda’s name a truly global one.

However, contributing to human beings around the world does not mean that you must work outside Japan or in an international setting, such as United Nations, but rather that you should work with pride and determination to contribute to human society in any way you can, no matter how small is the city in which you live or the organization to which you belong. The important thing is not the size of your city or your organization. It is that you should be confident in contributing to your fellow global citizens in some way.

In order to contribute to others, learn how to use your own brain, to think about the solutions that each community will need. Nowadays, around the globe, we human beings face problems to which no one has the complete solution. Problems like pandemics, global warming, or conflict among nations. You name it—the list goes on and on. No one knows the complete solution to any of those problems. Indeed, no single solution may exist. It may be that there are multiple partial solutions to each problem. It is your task to come up with your own solutions and to work effectively with others. Let us call this ability, to tackle problems yet unknown, “intellectual resilience”.

At the same time, expose yourself to people with a different language than your own, a different nationality, a different ethnicity, a different religion, a different gender, a different sexual orientation, a different culture and set of values. Become able to understand how other people feel and think. In other words, embrace the value of diversity. When you achieve that, your solutions to the problems we face will be persuasive to people around the world. Let us call this capacity, to grasp the importance of diversity, “flexible sensibility”.

Similarly, we faculty members and administrative staff pledge to do our best to provide you with a superlative educational environment that allows you to graduate from Waseda University with the confidence to contribute to human society around the globe. Please study hard while you are students at Waseda, but at the same time, enjoy your student life. When you graduate from this university, I hope you will have found at least one thing to which you are determined to devote yourself.

Once again, I wish you a wonderful and fruitful student life at Waseda.

Best wishes to you all!

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