From the President

Inaugural Message from the new President of Hokkaido University

Shining a Light from Hokkaido Upon the World

I am delighted to have been appointed as the 20th president of Hokkaido University by Minister Koichi Hagiuda of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology on October 1, 2020.

For nearly two years, our faculty, administrative staff, and students worked hard to fulfill our responsibilities as a national university corporation, despite the absence of the president.

I have felt an indescribable pressure at the thought of taking the presidency after such a challenging period. However, since I was selected as the president two months ago, I have steeled myself into thinking that we should not waste a minute to move our university forward.

It takes incredible resolve to take on the mantle of the university presidency. In the past, I have assumed various weighty responsibilities, including professorship and hospital directorship. This time, I will put my heart and soul into the task of reforming and developing the entire university.

Each university president has their own character. Though they share the same goals, the education they have received and the careers they have pursued are reflected in their varying approaches. I am the first clinician and surgeon to serve as the president of Hokkaido University, an institution poised to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2026.

I have spent more than 40 years as a neurosurgeon, during which I have performed difficult surgeries. On some nights, I felt relieved to learn that my patients were getting better, but I also spent days feeling the pain of remorse over unexpected results. As a researcher, I also devoted myself to the development of regenerative medicine using stem cells.

The most important lesson I have learned throughout my career was that – above all else – clinicians should maximize their patients’ natural regenerative abilities. To achieve that goal, clinicians must guide patients through necessary surgical treatments and novel drug, regenerative, and other therapies developed from basic research.

Hokkaido University has plenty of natural regenerative abilities to regenerate itself towards further development as well as the great potential to withstand difficult therapies to make great strides going forward. I’m eager to share the pain of the therapy the university may undergo and the joy of development that will follow with all university members.

I am confident that we can overcome any problem when our faculty, administrative staff, and students work together. That said, even the most insignificant problem cannot be resolved without their help. Further, support from all those concerned, including the local community, government offices and businesses, is essential for the smooth operations of the university. Thus, I ask for everyone’s cooperation from the bottom of my heart.

My term of office as the president is a little more than five years. I believe this will be long enough to achieve the regeneration and reformation of Hokkaido University toward more significant development. During this period, I would like the following phrase to be our motto:


“Shining a Light from Hokkaido Upon the World”

‘Lofty ambition,’ which was uttered by Dr. William Smith Clark, the first vice president of Sapporo Agricultural College, remains and will remain a soul-stirring phrase for the members of the Hokkaido University community. My understanding is that what Dr. Clark meant by ‘lofty ambition’ is for us to shine the light of knowledge from Hokkaido upon the world. I am committed to taking the lead in doing so along with our faculty, administrative staff, students, and society at large.

I will lay out the specific measures I will take and share them with you as part of my regular presidential messages in the coming months and years.

October 1, 2020,


Kiyohiro Houkin


Hokkaido University

Updated on   October 26, 2020