Korea University: 115th Commencement Ceremony Held

Korea University’s 115th commencement ceremony was held at 10am on Friday February 25th at the KU Inchon Memorial Hall. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the event involved both in-person and online elements, with only a minimal number of attendees at the commencement venue, and a Zoom session and a YouTube livestream employed.

A total of 6,527 students, including 4,296 undergraduate and 2,231 graduate students received their degrees at the ceremony.

President Chung Jin Taek said, “You are starting your careers in the midst of a great upheaval caused by a pandemic that still persists, and the resulting acceleration of digitalization across society. Looking back, significant progress has been made in human history during times such as this of unexpected upheaval and great transformation. A novel approach to something is unfamiliar and sometimes intimidating, but it offers a new opportunity and can launch you to greater heights in your career or your studies.” He continued, “Korea University has been running the Next Normal Committee since the outbreak of COVID-19 in order to develop the type of innovative university model that is demanded by the society of the future. Also, in the fields of education, research, and administration the KU Social Service Organization (KUSSO) and the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Committee are actively pursuing the realization of the humane values that are involved in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by the UN. In the future, by adhering to the 117-year tradition and spirit of KU, which have played their part in our dynamic response to the challenges of the times, we will succeed in developing KU into a university that to an ever greater degree cultivates creative future talent and has a positive impact on the world.”

The President then turned his focus to the graduating students, saying, “You have grown into creative talents who are ahead of the curve, and now you will move forward in the world of learning. You have not only acquired specialized knowledge but also the optimal ways to continue to obtain more. That is, you have grown into experts in learning. I hope that you will become outstanding professionals who can respond to new developments based on your sustained passion for learning, who can achieve continuous improvements in your work and demonstrate self-development, and who can apply yourselves diligently to everything you are involved in. I ask you to live as proud members of the KU community who have the confidence to embrace all people.”

The President of the KU Alumni Association, Koo Ja-yeol, who also attended the ceremony, on behalf of 350,0000 alumni congratulated graduating students on their transition from being students to alumni of Korea University. He stated, “As an alumnus of Korea University, I support you in your decisions, whatever path you take. Even if you face a difficult situation, I hope that you will be able to achieve your dreams through your intelligence and the spirit of adventure KU has instilled in you. As your seniors have done, I hope that you will always support your alma mater and serve the best interests of society.”

He advised graduating students, “You have nurtured your capacity to acquire holistic knowledge, and have engraved the KU spirit of freedom, justice, and truth in your hearts, and now you are ready to demonstrate your capacity to achieve your dreams. Today, when not only our society but also the whole world is facing numerous challenges, your role has become even more important. I hope that you will challenge yourself to achieve your dreams and hopes with confidence and pride, conscious that you are the best talents that Korea has to offer, and contribute to social development by playing a leading role in the post-COVID-19 era.

Chairman of Hyundai Motor Company Chung Eui-sun (Department of Business Administration, 1989) delivered a message of encouragement and congratulations to the students via video. He started his speech about ‘living today’ as follows: “I was worried about what to say to you, who are standing at a new starting line, but I believe that it would be meaningful for me to share what I value most, however trivial it might seem. If we could live each day in a perfect way, wouldn’t it be a wonderful life?” Then he advised his listeners, “In order to make a day perfect, ‘living simply’ is important. This means to focus on what is important, which will make your thinking about any situation inherently clear, sharp, and powerful. As a business administrator, I have learned that in order to keep things simple in the midst of a busy life, we should remove a lot of less important things from our lives. In that sense, I believe that life is not about selecting and accumulating things, but about removing the non-essential. This is not as easy as you may think. Choosing what to remove can put me at a loss and be intimidating. However, without forsaking less important things, you cannot focus on more crucial things and core matters.”

He also talked about the importance of repetition in the creation of a productive daily routine which can be the foundation of a successful life, as follows: “What activities or tasks would you focus on continuously repeating, and how would you do this, if you were asked to create your own routine? Of course, the routine that someone wants to create is difficult to achieve without perseverance, which can overcome indolence, and the courage to incorporate novelty into that repetition. The late founder of Hyundai Group Chung Ju-yung, who had lost his entire fortune in an unexpected fire in the early years of his business but who eventually succeeded in rebuilding and growing the business, emphasized that the most fatal mistake someone can make is to stop challenging themselves. He always said that people should not forget that there are many opportunities ahead of them. I believe that if you can identify what is most important and meaningful to you by simplifying your thinking through seeking processes to focus on and repeat, and by not giving up on your goals through your perseverance and courage, all of you will be able to live each day the way you want. I am sure that when these productive days accumulate, you can seize the opportunities you meet, enjoy a wonderful life and plan a great future with no regrets.”

On behalf of the graduating students, Chung Jae-hee (Department of Education, ’18) gave a valedictory speech. She said, “In the course of the education that I experienced at Korea University, in a sense I was myself a subject of my studies, and this allowed me to explore the life that I really want, with great freedom. Although we cannot be completely free from others’ evaluations and expectations, I believe that we should strive to understand ourselves better than anyone else can, and to continuously appreciate our own merits. Even though the paths that we have chosen are varied, I sincerely look forward to each of us making our own way in order to create a better world.”

In addition, the winner of the Best Teaching Award, who received the highest evaluation score from students, domestic and foreign faculty members who were selected as Highly Cited Researchers (HCR), staff who worked on academic administration and campus management in the interests of students, junior students, and residents living near the campus encouraged and congratulated graduating students via a succession of recorded videos. As one of the representatives of the district’s residents, the CEO of Youngcheol Story Pub Lee Young-cheol, who is wellknown for his Youngcheol Burger, submitted a video for this event.

Meanwhile, at the ceremony there was a display of photos which were selected from a Korea University photo contest which focused on the KU memories of graduating students.

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