- 2022 Commencement Address 2022.02.21
February 21, 2022
Seoung Hwan Suh, President
My congratulations to the graduates who have successfully completed their bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees at our beloved alma mater, Yonsei University, and who will now take flight into the brave new world. I extend my congratulations to all our graduates’ families for the dedication, sacrifice, and love that have brought you to this proud moment today.
Thank you to Chairman Dong-soo Hur and other members of the Board of Trustees who have always supported Yonsei to become the strong academic institution it is today, and thank you to the international contributions made by our alumni, and especially by President Kyung-sun Yu of the Yonsei Alumni Association. I’d also like to thank the faculty who put their heart and soul into teaching our students, as well as all the members of Yonsei who have devoted themselves to the advancement of our university—we are all here today thanks to your efforts. I express my deepest gratitude and respect to you all.
I would like to give my greatest praise, encouragement, and support, of course, to the resolute will of today’s graduating class who have successfully completed their studies despite the COVID-19 pandemic these past two years. Replacing a bustling campus life where faculty and students meet in classrooms and laboratories with virtual learning must have had its difficulties and shortcomings. As your alma mater forever, Yonsei University promises to continue our responsibility of offering you knowledge content (through LearnUS and other channels) as well supporting strong alumni networking and cooperation.
To our graduates who have overcome these challenging times:
I hope you will take pride in the fact that our university has a history of leading the nation during periods of great upheaval. Yonsei University was the first institution of modern learning at the end of Joseon Dynasty, and during the Japanese colonial era Yonsei produced independence fighters who devoted themselves to a greater cause. After independence, Yonsei nurtured leaders who led Korea’s modernization and democratization movements, and now in the era of globalization and information, we foster graduates who possess international literacy and digital capabilities.
With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the era of the “new normal,” Yonsei will once again take a leadership role. In order to train innovative leaders for our future society, Yonsei is revolutionizing education through our new online platform, LearnUs. Currently we have 17 universities collaborating in our online joint teaching network, and we will continue to expand Yonsei’s intellectual outreach.
This year’s newly inaugurated College of Computing adopts an interdisciplinary and trans-boundary approach to nurturing future leaders. We have also co-founded a quantum computing data center with IBM to lead the next generation of technology. These cutting-edge technologies and knowledge will not remain on the level of theory but will use industry partnerships to lead rapid growth and development. We will pursue Yonsei’s purpose in tackling previously unsolvable problems of our world with new forms of knowledge and technology in order to make the world a better place.
It is already the case that Yonsei University’s education, research, and social contribution efforts are highly regarded around the globe. This year, Yonsei ranked 79th in the world in the QS World University Rankings, our highest ranking ever. We received high rankings in research performance, education and research environment, and academic reputation. In particular, we ranked 44th in the world in the category of “alumni reputation,” confirming the recognition and respect that Yonsei graduates receive all over the world. Moreover, according to the “Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings,” Yonsei University continued in first place in Korea, and rose to 30th in the world, proving our institution’s global reach and mindset. In all areas of education, research, and social contribution, Yonsei University members are recognized around the world as “innovative leaders with a community spirit.”
To our graduates who will lead the new generation:
The world around is changing at the speed of light and it is impossible to predict the future, and yet adapting to our changing world is essential for survival. A true leader will go beyond simple adaptation, and will rather set a direction, present a vision, and lead the world to where it needs to be.
Leaders must have well-defined values and ideals, and have their own distinct identity and self-definition. All of you graduates today have studied, developed, and flourished on this campus in keeping with the values and ideals of Yonsei. What, then, are the values of our institution? What does it mean to be a Yonseian?
Yonsei University has been pursuing the values of “truth and freedom.” The passage from John 8:32 in the Bible, “The truth will set you free,” has been at the core of our founding principles, and this has driven our entire history of pushing the frontiers of knowledge and of cultivating leaders who contributed to the development of society.
To our graduates who are taking their first steps out into the world today, I would like to pause to consider what goes into values and identity of “Yonsei-ism, or “being Yonsei.” What does it mean to “be Yonsei” and to look ahead toward challenge and leadership; creativity and innovation; and community and commitment?
“Being Yonsei” means to rise to the challenges faced by civilization with pioneering leadership.
“Being Yonsei” means to have an open mind and flexible attitude when communicating with others, an attitude of creativity and innovation in approaching all that is new.
“Being Yonsei” means to hold on to values of community and commitment in building a sustainable world for future generations, one that is inclusive and free.
I believe that “being Yonsei” has become part of your identity and your hearts during your time here at our institution and that you are now about to become a proud alumnus or alumna of our university. I hope that you will treasure “being Yonsei” at every stage of your life and future, as you become proactive, talented leaders who contribute to and improve the society that we all live in.
To our graduates who will live in the spirit of “being Yonsei”:
Remember that Yonsei will always support you and that we will always be at your side. We look forward to being as proud of you as our alumni, as you are proud of your time at Yonsei University.
Once more I congratulate you today on your graduation, and I pray that God's blessings and grace be with you everywhere you may choose to go. Thank you.