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2023 Commencement Address 2023.03.03

February 2023 Commencement Address

I send my hearty congratulations to our graduating students. Today, you earned your bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees and take your first step as Yonsei alumni. I’d like to extend this praise to the parents and families who have supported their children with the spirit of love and sacrifice. My thanks also go to Chairman Dong-soo Hur and the other members of the Board of Trustees, who encourage and look out for our graduates’ future paths. I would like to sincerely thank President Kyung-sun Yu of the Yonsei Alumni Association, as well as our four hundred thousand alumni. Finally, my thanks and respect go to our university’s faculty, who have devoted themselves to teaching their students while also attaining global research excellence.

To the graduates who stand here today as Yonsei’s hope, I say this:

The year 2023 will be a meaningful one for you. You will remember it as the year when you left the school grounds and entered the new world of employment. However, your graduation is not the sole element of significance in 2023. One hundred years ago, this year was a distant future, but in a century’s time, 2023 will be considered a long-gone past. Furthermore, we live in a time of immensely rapid change. Hence, this generation ardently calls for the ability to shape the meaning of today by pouring into the cast the insights from our past and the awareness of our future.

One hundred years ago, Yonsei was the hope that protected Korea during its predicament in the name of Yeonhui and Severance. To this day, we still recall our countless seniors with reverence as they have sown the seeds of hope and committed their Yonsei names to cultivating those crops. Those of you who are graduating today have now become the symbol of such invaluable hope; you are capable of continuing our tradition for the next one hundred years. I urge you to lead your lives with pride and make history as Yonsei alumni. Do not remain within the shallow whirlpool of history. Instead, spiral out into a new chronicle with your foresight. Please remember that the members of Yonsei from a century ago and a century in the future will be cheering you on.

Dear graduates who will forever become Yonsei’s companions:

I would like to remind you to take pride in the fact that Yonsei has always initiated the changes of an era. For instance, our school has risen to seventy-third place in the QS ranking (the most prestigious university ranking in the world) and seventy-eighth place in the Times Higher Education ranking. These scores are the highest among all private universities in Asia. Moreover, in the evaluation of ten academic fields by the Times Higher Education, Yonsei ranked first in psychology, business and economics, clinical and health sciences, and social sciences, thereby securing the highest number of first-place rankings in the domestic universities category.

Our school excels in the field of research, both in terms of quality and quantity. Last year, our research revenue total exceeded five hundred billion won for the first time. Furthermore, we established a contract with IBM to import their 127-cubit quantum computer in the first half of 2024. This means that Yonsei will make South Korea the fifth nation in line to possess a quantum computer after the United States, Germany, Japan, and Canada. By taking advantage of the endless possibilities of quantum computing for practical applications, Yonsei will greatly develop its competitive edge in pioneering research environments.

The half-life of knowledge, which indicates the halving of the usefulness of knowledge, is now only ten years, and this length is supposedly decreasing even more. This means that your graduation should not be the end but rather the beginning of more learning. In light of this, I ask you to remain attuned to the changing world and continue striving for new knowledge. Last year, Yonsei’s LearnUs, which is Korea’s first online university education platform, celebrated its first anniversary. The platform was established to create an innovative medium of knowledge distribution in higher education. By initiating a transition in the educational paradigm of our new trans-global, hyper-connected epoch, LearnUs has enrolled twenty-three thousand individual members and produced four thousand outstanding video lectures, all within the span of a single year. The platform also forms the basis of the Online Joint-Lecture Network, which includes about thirty universities as participants, centering on Yonsei. Even after graduation, therefore, you will be able to access every piece of new knowledge you might need through LearnUs. Graduates, we promise to stay by your side throughout your life.

Similarly, Yonsei continues to write a new history for the future. I am confident that if we persevere, our school will be able to become the world’s top university. I trust that you, our graduates, will all join in Yonsei’s pursuit of building the future.

Our loving graduates,

In the current fourth Industrial Revolution, hyper-convergence becomes imperative, and this is only obtainable through cooperation. Please bear in mind that what you can achieve on your own, with the competence and courage of a single individual, is very limited. Cooperation is based on the premise of understanding and respecting one another. Genuinely compliment the good work of others. Cooperation starts with humility. Try not to be disappointed even though people fail to fully appreciate your performance. All of these experiences add up to the spirit of coexistence and devotion, which are the values that Yonsei promotes.

We must acknowledge the assistance of many others who have contributed to your honorable ceremony today. Thank your parents for bringing you into this world and, of course, raising you. Thank your professors for teaching you. Thank your colleagues for sharing with you the long hours of study and contemplation. You stand here thanks to the support of numerous people, some of whom you will not even be aware of. Therefore, be grateful to everyone around you. We urge you to live with the aim of repaying society for all that you have received.

Once more, I express my deepest congratulations to our graduates. In his poem “Spring,” Yoon Dongju writes, “Surge joyfully from the furrow, joyous lark. The azure sky wavers high above…” In like manner, Yonsei wishes you a joyful, vibrant flight.

Thank you!

February 27th, 2023

Seoung Hwan Suh, President