Ryukoku University began in 1639 as a Buddhist seminary (boarding school, or “Gakuryo”) that was established in the precinct of Nishi-Hongwanji Temple. The institution has gone through many reforms through the ages and had previously gone through the name changes Gakurin、Daikyoko、and Daigakurin, and is in its 376th year. From the time of its establishment, Ryukoku University has based its education on the life of Shinran Shonin as it continues, develops, and furthers education and research using his way of living as its guide. The principle of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism is the school motto, pursuing the development of students who “seek, live, and express the truth.” Cultivated within this long history is the tradition of respect for progress, a diverse individuality unique to the university, and intellectualism cultivated through academic research that we are so proud of.
Engraved on the front alter of the Kenshinkan building on our Fukakusa Campus is the name of Amida Buddha which Shinran Shonin wrote up on October 28th, 1256, at the age of 84. The term "amida" is derived from the Sanskrit terms "amitaba" (immeasurable light) and "amitayusu" (immeasurable good fortune). The term "namu" is derived from the Sanskrit term "namasu", which denotes devotion and trust. In short, we devote ourselves and believe in that which is beyond ourselves, in other words immeasurable glory (“chie”) and lifespan (“jihi”).
As devoted students of Shinran Shonin’s teachings, it is necessary for us to reevaluate ourselves and our self-centered love, desires, and aspirations. Having been blessed with our own existence, it is necessary to awaken and recognize the universal importance of all life. The fact that Ryukoku University has a history of more than 376 years is undoubtedly due to the fact that our university has repeatedly pursued this universal meaning with regards to life by repeatedly making the inquiries, “What does it mean to be human?” and “How should we live?”, and through the embodiment of those answers developed education and learning to cultivate capable human beings, as well as contributed the fruits of that education and research to society. Furthermore, regardless of the period in time, our university is looked to with regards to various issues and challenges, which have continuously been responded to with sincerity.
At this time, the world is headed toward a period of crisis and difficulty. Such difficult problems as the deterioration of the earth's environment, the intensification of regional disputes, and the increase of poverty are not only accumulating, but becoming more complex. Also within Japan, we are facing complicated and intertwined issues, such as increasing tension with neighboring countries, doubt regarding the status quo of economic growth, and problems surrounding the re-implementation of nuclear power.
In March 2015, I had the opportunity to visit Fukushima Prefecture, which was victimized by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Even four years after the disaster, approximately 229,000 people are still forced to live as evacuees and have no choice but to live in a very unstable situation. Decontamination work is taking place, dump trucks move in and out, and revival construction is being carried out in various areas. However, in places with high levels of radioactivity, houses are abandoned and buildings have been left in post-disaster conditions. Having experienced the terror of a nuclear accident, it is necessary for us to not be attached only to profits and economics of the near future, but to face the essence of the problems and seriously consider which path we should follow with regards to mid-term issues.
It can be thought that the creation of new wisdom to resolve these kinds of issues, and the cultivation of human beings who are able to create a future of hope, are currently the most important missions of higher education institutions. Within a university's ever-changing environment, reforms are carried out through various activities to carry out positive growth, and it is necessary for Ryukoku University to set forth clearly in its role. Based our university's founding spirit, we have cultivated students with a flexible intelligence, rich imagination, and sure intention. In addition, we have engaged in research which attempts to solve the problems of an increasingly complex society, and that which contributes to a sustainable world by contributing to the development of science and technology. Already having had provided such service to the public, Ryukoku University's mission and role become even greater.
Our university has operated through the implementation of Long Term Plans since 1975. The Fourth Long Term Plan was in force until 2009, during which time we actively carried out many reforms. Our current Fifth Long Term Plan is a comprehensive ten year plan taking effect between 2010-2019. Our University's mission and "2020 Ryukoku University Vision" were indicated clearly and a grand design was settled upon, and concrete reforms are being tackled. The five-year term 2010-2014 was the first half of our Fifth Long Term Plan, considered the "First Mid-Term Plan". During this period, more than fifty action plans were established and we have carried out the reforms carefully and resolutely.
One significant result is the establishment of the Faculty of Agriculture on the Seta Campus in April 2015, and the reorganization of the Faculty of Intercultural Communication into the Faculty of International Studies, which has been relocated to Fukakusa Campus. Furthermore, the Research Center for World Buddhist Cultures was established to promote international research projects using Buddhism as its criterion. We have expanded into a comprehensive university with approximately 20,000 students in nine faculties, nine graduate schools, one professional school, one junior college, and five research institutes. According to recruitment efforts for the 2015 entrance exams, there are more than 10,000 prospective students compared to the previous year, and more than 59,000 aspiring students have been gathered. As a result of our steady work on various projects as part of our First Mid-Term Plan, our university has grown into one overflowing with intellect and energy, further heightening the evaluation and expectations from society.
Again, from April 2015, as part of a corporate merger, the university-affiliated Heian High School and Junior High School came under the management of the Ryukoku University Educational Corporation. Using this merger as an opportunity to further strengthen the bond between both schools, we will endeavor to increase the cultivation of humans in the spirit of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism as well as work towards the further evolution of the junior high school, high school, and university.
And from the 2015 Academic Year, we have at last entered into the second phase of our Fifth Long Term Plan, in other words the Second Mid-Term Plan. With the unfolding of this Second Mid-Term Plan, in addition to a continued combination of history and tradition, it becomes even more important to look to the future and make efforts toward becoming a university that is "open to the world, creating the future". For this purpose, I feel that we must hereafter look toward the realization of "the strengthening and improvement of education" and "the improvement of educational quality", and that the strengthening and perfection of comprehensive support provided to students are of utmost importance.
At the end of March 2015, the Ryukoku University Learning Commons were established on the Fukakusa Campus to support autonomous and diverse learning. The Learning Commons combine the functions of three Commons: the Student Commons, a space for creative learning and interaction; the Global Commons, a space for multicultural and multilingual learning; and the Knowledge Commons, a space of wisdom where students autonomously “research, think, write and create.” The Learning Commons will support student activities from both the curricular and extracurricular sides. A similar facility is scheduled to be established in September 2015 at the Seta Campus.
Making use of such a diverse educational environment, we intend to further enhance support of the regular education curriculum, global education, career education, employment, and extracurricular activities. We will also exert effort in the research activities with the projects taken up at the Research Center for World Buddhist Cultures and other research projects in which we have strength, as well as improving the research support system and publicizing research results. With the keywords “comprehensive, joint work, and cooperation”, we will also work on improving the support system for physically challenged students, and actively support volunteer programs to strengthen ties with the community.
In this way, there are many challenges for us to address. Universities find themselves in a rather severe environment. However, because of this it becomes even more important to foresee the future, grasp opportune moments, and bravely deal with the various issues at hand. For this purpose, a flexible and emergent management is necessary so all individuals within the university have a common goal-oriented consciousness and information, and by demonstrating their individual abilities, should be able to work in cooperation toward the cultivation of the institution.
Since my inauguration as President, I have consistently aimed for an "interactive university management". Hereafter, using interactive management as a basis, I would like to concentrate everyone's efforts to earnestly tackle various issues and exhibit leadership by steadily executing necessary projects. Furthermore, in order to cultivate human resources who are capable of carving out the future of Ryukoku University, as well as the future of Japan and the world, I will work vigorously toward creating a university overflowing with rich intellect and energy.
I would be deeply honored to receive your cooperation.
President of Ryukoku University
April 1, 2017
Ryukoku University President Takashi Irisawa