Sophia University

About Graduation Ceremony, March 2021

Addresses of Graduation Ceremony, March 2021

Opening Address by Yoshiaki Terumichi,
President of Sophia University

March 26, 2021
Yoshiaki Terumichi,
President, Sophia University

Yoshiaki Terumichi, President of Sophia University

Congratulations everyone on your graduation. Congratulations to you, parents and others who have supported our students. While I offer words of congratulations, there are still many people around the world who are faced with the challenges of COVID-19. I pray that society can be restored soon and advance toward a new future.

At last, we are able to have you gather in one room to share the joy at the same time in the same place. During this past year, while the world experienced drastic change and people of every generation around the world dealt with this crisis, I am sure that you were also forced to go through tremendous change. Some of you may be disappointed that you were not able to complete your student life according to your original plans. Others may feel frustrated that you were not able to fully prepare yourselves for the next stage of your life, whether it be employment or pursuing further studies. I would imagine that for all of you gathered here, the past year brought a wind of change, which may have been headwind for some of you. As President of Sophia University, I am sad that you had to struggle in such stormy weather. Sophia University formulated plans for the medium term based on close observation of the ever-changing circumstances, making decisions on class formats, improving the Internet environment, and re-initiating extracurricular activities, but I regret that our decisions did not always represent what you would have hoped for.

Taking these circumstances into consideration, I would like to deliver my heartfelt message to you as you approach this important milestone of your life today. As I mentioned earlier, the entire world is challenged with COVID-19 and no one on earth lives each day free of the impact of COVID-19. All of Earth’s citizens are living lives that have changed from the daily life that they knew. Yet life goes on. The turbulence caused by the pandemic has changed the value of daily life. Our everyday life is the most basic unit of our social activities. Global society is a collection of "diverse daily lives."

How will you design your daily lives − the most fundamental units of your lives? Will you find a firm place for your visions, hopes and the energy that your dreams are driven by? Will the revered humanity that you have nurtured up to today shine forth in that daily life? I would like you to give this a thought on your Graduation Day.

On the other hand, the pandemic has demanded new forms of technology development, institutional design, and economic activity. Furthermore, it has required us to create new values and ethics. What role do you seek to play in the new society, approaching just around the corner? Instead of just hoping for a better society, I would like you to play an active role as alumni of Sophia University in designing the new society and thinking about where it should be headed. This means that you will be a part of the social environment that creates your own daily life. Please continue to design your life in terms of both your everyday life and your role in society, or with a micro and macro understanding of the world.

The graduates used every other the seat in Hall A of the Tokyo International Forum.

The Deputy Director of the Catholic Jesuit Center, Fr. Juan Haidar, S.J., just introduced a passage from Corinthians (∗). Even though you have acquired skills and knowledge, is there any meaning in using them without love? "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." And love never fails. How will this love be expressed in the way you live, or in your daily lives?

I hope that your future leaps and advances will be underpinned by Sophia University's educational spirit, "Men and Women for Others, with Others," and that they will bring joy and hope to society through love, not overlooking the vulnerable. I look forward to meeting you on campus again some day. Let us then engage in conversation about what the COVID-19 pandemic meant for us and for society. I look forward to hearing your conclusions.

(∗) 1 Corinthians 13, 1-8
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Congratulatory Address by Tsutomu Sakuma, S.J.,
Chancellor of Sophia School Corporation

March 26, 2021
Tsutomu Sakuma, S.J.,
Chancellor, Sophia School Corporation

Tsutomu Sakuma, S.J., Chancellor of Sophia School Corporation

Congratulations to those of you receiving your degree today from our graduate and undergraduate programs and to those of you completing your year in the Course of Midwifery. I would also like to extend my congratulations to the parents, guarantors and other supporters who are joining us either from other rooms on campus or online. Today, as you welcome this joyous moment, I am sure that you are recalling a mixture of emotions, looking back at your studies and research at Sophia University.

The past year was a particularly challenging year, in which many of you experienced difficulties and changes that could not be imagined when you entered university. You are welcoming Graduation Day after overcoming the challenges faced in the last year, with limited access to lectures and experiments on campus, seminars and extracurricular activities, as well as the replacement of hands-on practice at destinations off campus with practice on campus. I am sure that you are recalling the support that you received from your parents and many others with gratitude.

This year saw drastic change in how we learn at university. Many of our academic activities, including the acquisition of information for research and studies; discussions and joint research became connected with the rest of the world in no time at all. In just one year, we experienced the kind of change that would usually take several years or a decade to occur. At the same time, we have felt the importance of direct dialogue and in-person forums for learning and research at a university through the thirst we felt for these opportunities. This is why I am so happy to be able to see you in person at this venue for your Graduation Ceremony.

The entire world is in the midst of a pandemic. Some think that this pandemic will not be remembered simply as a historically rare event. Changes in the natural environment, including global warming, and ever-widening wealth gaps between the poor and the rich, against the backdrop of endlessly intensifying desires for wealth will challenge our converging world with unprecedented difficulties yet to be experienced by humans. Regardless of whether or not we will see more frequent occurrences of disasters and pandemics, we have come to strongly feel, over the past year, that in the future world, each of us will bear the responsibility of establishing harmonious relationships between humans and nature, between individuals and among diversified human societies.

Those of you graduating from Sophia University will leave this campus as humans who live "for Others, with Others." The "Other" is the other being, different from the "self" but bearing the same dignity as one's "self". The "Other" is a being that can build dialogue-based relationships between "you" and "me" and among "us." In a broad sense, "nature," the origin our being − our home − should also be respected as the "Other." In order to live "with Others," we must not make others the slaves of our own desires. For each of "us" to live with dignity, we need to reconsider our lifestyles and behavior. Just as we will not see an end to the pandemic if the vaccine is not offered equally to all, in order to achieve the visions of the SDGs, which are based on global action, there are times when we must limit our actions or desires for the good of all. It is always difficult to resist the temptation of prioritizing ourselves. Acknowledging others sometimes involves the pain of overcoming such temptations.

I expect that those of you graduating from Sophia University today will be live the Sophian spirit of "for Others, with Others" in your respective places. I also pray that through your work, the world − the entire Earth − will be blessed with life.

Congratulations on your graduation.

Congratulatory Address by Masao Torii,
President of Sophia University Alumni Association

March 26, 2021
Masao Torii
President, Sophia University Alumni Association

Masao Torii, President of Sophia University Alumni Association

Congratulations, everyone. My name is Masao Torii, President of the Sophia University Alumni Association, Sophia-kai. Despite my worries that we might not be able to attend this graduation ceremony in person due to COVID-19, we are meeting in person today, thanks to the efforts of Chancellor Sakuma, President Terumichi and all the university faculty and staff. I am very happy to be able to deliver my words of congratulations to you in person.

Just 50 years ago, perhaps even before your parents were born, I was a student of the Faculty of Foreign Studies at Sophia University. My English professor and advisor to the ESS, Fr. Forbes, who dedicated all of his time to his students, inspired me to become the kind of person who is committed to others, and with this determination, I have lived my life as a member of society to date. This is closely linked to taking action in the spirit of Sophia University, "Men and Women for Others, with Others."

Last year, all of Japan and the world were affected by COVID-19. I am sure that you faced various challenges and difficulties. I can only imagine the anxiety that you must have felt while the campus was closed and job recruiting activities were limited. Given restrictions on extracurricular activities, you must have had very limited time to spend with your friends. Those of you who pay for your tuition through part time jobs must have also gone through anxious times, given your reduced income. Your hardships and pain cannot be expressed in words. I have been told that your professors used online and on-demand classes, making creative efforts to maintain the quality of their classes, and that your positive attitude towards the classes lead to creating greater learning and higher quality of the classes. Raising hands virtually on Zoom made it easier for some students who would usually not have the courage to speak up in a large class and led to an increased sense of participation.

At Novartis Japan, a Swiss company of which I am Country President, we saw a dramatical change in the way we work. Due to COVID-19 our employees now basically work from home. Only around 10 percent of our 1,500 employees at Tokyo Headquarters come to the office to work, and many have not come to the office since February last year. I myself only go to the office for half a day every week. I had always wanted to respect the will of our employees and let them decide where they work. With the spread of COVID-19, we introduced teleworking without thorough preparations, thus creating new workstyles, different from conventional ways of working. Employees initially faced difficulties working at home, but many feel that it has been an opportunity for progress, deciding on their own work pace and thinking about how to approach their work.

Taking a look around the world, we can see that the world is full of problems, including political chaos in major countries, natural disasters, and widening gaps in wealth. Disparities in opportunities to acquire new technologies will further expand with advances in digitalization. Obsession with past experiences will not help us navigate these times when drastic and diversified change occurs at an unprecedented speed. There are no "correct answers." If we were to gather relevant information in search of the right answer, we would only find ourselves drowning in a flood of information. The answer is to follow your heart. By following your heart, you are "doing the right thing." Once you become a member of society, you will find yourself in many situations where you must make a decision in your work or research. Please draw upon what you have learned at Sophia University.

The Sophia-kai is Sophia University's alumni association, connecting alumni with other alumni and the university. Under the Sophia-kai, we have 312 smaller alumni organizations, including 65 local organizations overseas. Having studied under the same educational philosophy, the alumni of Sophia University share a strong bond that allows us to understand each other wherever we meet to "connect, expand and deepen the Sophian bonds," as our slogan goes. I invite you to become active members of the Sophian network. The Sophians' Club is located on the sixth floor of Bldg. #6. Although it is currently closed, please feel welcome to stop by when operations return to normal.