We strive to fulfill Meiji Gakuin University's educational philosophy of "Do for Others" and contribute to society by carrying on our founder James C. Hepburn's legacy of Christian-based eduacdtion.
Lately, I’ve been feeling as if time is moving extremely fast. Twenty years ago, if I wrote to a far-off friend telling them important news, their response took several days to arrive. Today, if I send an email or text message, the response comes back immediately. Packages are delivered with amazing speed, and even people travel more quickly. However, there are some things that still take as much time as ever. Education is a prime example.
Let’s consider mathematics, my field of study, as an example. If you spend a whole year studying introductory geometry, you’ll probably be able to construct proofs for the congruence of triangles or the Pythagorean theorem. However, this is not the aim of an education in mathematics. The true goal is to gain the ability to organize your thoughts concerning the point you wish to make and explain that point using logic. People with this ability may find themselves feeling grateful, many years later, that through studying mathematics they became proficient at logical thought. Even if they do not realize it themselves, those around them may well appreciate it. That is as it should be. True education and research take a long time to bear fruit. They cannot be measured in terms of efficiency, as questions such as “What is the goal of this subject?” or “How far have you advanced toward that goals in the course of one year?” seek to do.
The educational philosophy of Meiji Gakuin University is “Do for Others.” I believe this motto expresses a perspective not solely focused on efficiency that is crucial for students after they finish school and enter society at large. I hope that our students will never forget to take care of others. Throughout this university’s long history, we’ve always followed in the footsteps of our founder Dr. James Hepburn by emphasizing something a bit different from typical societal goals such as the pursuit of profit and efficiency. Today, when the scope of our students’ activities has expanded to a global scale, I believe this educational philosophy remains as important as ever. I am committed to offering an education that broadens our students’ perspectives and benefits them far into the future, as this university has always done.
What is a good university? Does it mean one that offers a high-quality education and a fulfilling student life? Would a third party consider our students, graduates, faculty members, and staff as contributing to society through their activities? Is ours a university where faculty and graduate students are producing outstanding research results? Indeed, each of these are requirements for being a “good university.” It is with that aim that we have students evaluate our classes, and it is why faculty and staff engage in self-reviews and faculty development activities. But that’s not enough: as a “good university,” we also aim to provide a space where even if you feel a little uncomfortable or in trouble, you can rest assured that there are friends who will sit with you and listen, staff who will support you, and teachers who will draw out your interest in learning. We are striving to be, in fact and in reputation, a “good university” in these respects, too.
We are living in an age when goods, money, information, knowledge, and technology circulate around the globe with great speed. I want our students to develop the timeless intellectual qualities that will allow them to thrive in this complex contemporary society. My goal is to ensure the university environment supports their development. As a school with faculties of Letters, Economics, Sociology and Social Work, Law, International Studies, and Psychology, as well as a Center for Liberal Arts, we have approached the study of society and the humanities from many angles. Building on a foundation in the liberal arts and their chosen major, students polish their education through international programs encompassing both study at universities around the world as well as interactions with international students. One of my goals is to strengthen the International Center, which serves a key role in guiding students through this part of their education. It is also essential to enhance support for research carried out at the university in order to ensure that both our research and education meet international standards, and to provide the necessary financial resources. As we move into the future, I will devote steady energy to the university in these areas.
The New Testament relates to us “a new type of teaching” of Jesus Christ, who freed people from the many prejudices, biases, discriminatory attitudes, old social evils, and oppressions of this world and taught them to stand on their own feet, and recounts his unceasing efforts to support and heal the weakest and poorest members of society and those who had been robbed of their human dignity. These principles of freeing and healing people guided the work of the university’s founder Dr. James Hepburn and many other missionaries, and they continue to point the way forward for this university in the form of our educational principle “Do for Others.” Our mission as a Christian educational institution has been to foster individuals who accept others different from themselves, build cooperative relationships with the others, and confront together the worldwide problems in this time, halting and striving always on the side of those in trouble. In order to fulfil that mission now and in the future, we must firmly maintain the tradition of our Christian-based education services of Meiji Gakuin University since our founding, nurturing openness and respect for others in each student, and also hope to strengthen our engagement with Christian universities and schools throughout Asia to form a robust network. As the vice president in charge of Christian education, my aim is to do what I can to further these goals.
Universities stands at the center of two bridges connected to the outside world, one leading from high school to the university, and the other from the university to society at large. In recent years, the nature of these connections has surfaced as a significant problem in Japan. Is it really acceptable for students to enter university by mastering simple test-taking techniques, and then move on to society after acquiring only superficial knowledge at the university? Can we really foster the vital human resources that the world needs as it enters a period of great change without addressing the structural faults in those two bridges? These are critical questions for university faculty and staff to reflect on. Fortunately, Meiji Gakuin University has earned a firm reputation as a center of knowledge in the humanities and social sciences. Our faculty serve as guides to the immense “Treasure Islands” humanity has built through the accumulation of collective wisdom, and they are eager to explore those islands with their students. I hope that students with an equal passion for academic exploration will seek out this university and discover their own treasures here. I encourage them, too, to dream about becoming one-of-a-kind treasures themselves as they move from the university to the broader society. That is what their time here at Meiji Gakuin University is for.