Master’s, professional, and doctoral degree presentation ceremony: farewell address

University News | March 25, 2021

President Kiyohiro Houkin giving farewell address.

On behalf of Hokkaido University, I would sincerely like to congratulate all of you upon achieving your master’s, professional, and doctoral degrees today.

I would also like to extend my congratulations and gratitude to your families, guardians, mentors, and all other people who have provided for you, supported you, and encouraged you to this day.

Today, we are proud to award 1,659 master’s degrees, 68 professional degrees, and 291 doctoral degrees. Each of you has devoted yourself to your study and research, gained expert knowledge and achieved research excellence in your area of expertise.

I would also like to add that, of those, 274 master’s degrees, 16 professional degrees, and 72 doctoral degrees were awarded to international students.

You have persevered in an unfamiliar environment where you study in English and live your daily life in Japanese. Your efforts and academic achievements are highly commendable and deserve the utmost respect.

At Hokkaido University, you have gained the highest level of knowledge, skills, and academic experiences. I am also certain that, with various people you have encountered here, you have built great relationships that last a lifetime. I do not need to remind you that completion of a graduate program is merely one stop on a predetermined educational course. Your journey of personal development from now on is an open road. Whatever path you may take in the future please take what you learned here, use your skills and knowledge, and challenge yourself to excel even further. I have high hopes for every single one of you of reaching your full potential and achieving your greatest goals.

When we look at the society at large, the few years you spent here have been truly extraordinary.

The COVID-19 pandemic which began at the end of 2019 and reached around the globe has changed our world completely. The end of the pandemic is not in sight even today, and it almost feels as if we are still in a dark tunnel. It must have been very difficult for all of you that this pandemic happened during the period of time that was so crucial for earning your degree.

In research, in-person interactions have been restricted, and social distancing is mandated in collaborative work with your supervisor or in data collection from experiments with your fellow students. Even interacting with your friends and teachers outside of the classroom had to be strictly limited.

Some of you may have been affected by financial hardship that your family members have experienced. Some of you might have been under financial distress because your income from part-time jobs decreased greatly.

I truly admire your dedication and achievement in this trying time. Obtaining your degree is, of course, commendable in any circumstances, but in this time of global crisis, I believe your achievement deserves higher praise.

This coronavirus pandemic has led to the restructuring of world order, the acceleration of digital transformation, and the introduction of new rules in our daily lives. The “Post-Pandemic” world is sure to bring fundamental, profound changes to society.

You are the generation that will lead us in efforts to build the society that comes next. It is a huge responsibility for sure, but it is also an incredible opportunity for you to collectively leverage your strengths. Please become the driving force of this time of great change.

Very soon we will be celebrating a major milestone of the University, our 150th anniversary. In the long history of the University, we find many pioneers who can be our role models. Dr. William S. Clark, our first Vice President, and Dr. Inazo Nitobe, a great pioneer with global mindset who also embodied the spirit of Japan, may first come to mind. There are also many others who may not be as famous as these historical figures. But they have definitely left their mark, however small it may seem, and made a concrete contribution to the larger society.

Many of these people have left us words of wisdom. Among them, an inspiring slogan that I believe is part of our soul at Hokkaido University is from Dr. Clark, “Girls and boys, be ambitious”. The spirit and meaning of these words can be interpreted differently by all of us at the University, including you, depending on our positions and circumstances. They could even take on different meanings depending on the era. However, in any case, these are truly powerful words.

Lastly, one of Hokkaido University’s new principles is “Strong Partnerships with Society”. We aspire to build close relationships with various organizations and individuals in the wider society and become an epicenter for social change.

In this effort, collaborations with alumni and alumni associations are the most important foundations. There will be no partnership with wider, more diverse society if we cannot build strong, long-lasting relationships with our alumni.

I hope you are proud of yourself in having achieved your degree here and for becoming part of our alumni network now. Please take advantage of these powerful relationships which may last a lifetime.

It is hard to say goodbye, but as the President of Hokkaido University, I am sending my best wishes to all of you who are starting a new chapter in your life during this historic COVID-19 pandemic.

I will be always cheering you on from afar.

Best of luck in your future endeavors. And keep making us proud.

Once again, congratulations.

The farewell address for the bachelor’s degree’s graduates can be found at the following link (in Japanese):