On Sunday, April 8, AIU welcomed 287 new students, including 89 new exchange and study abroad students, to campus at the matriculation ceremony. In total, our 156 exchange and study abroad students represent 85 universities in 29 countries and regions and make up more than 20% of AIU's student body.The ceremony started with a special warm-up, as all participants were asked to join in the "Year of the Dog" greeting. Students, faculty, and distinguished guests alike rose, held their front paws in front of them, wagged their tails, and greeted one another with a smile to get the event going. It continued with congratulatory speeches from AIU's President, the governor of Akita Prefecture, and the Chairman of the Akita Prefectural Assembly. Representatives of the undergraduate and graduate students also gave speeches on behalf of the entering class before the ceremony ended with at celebratory musical performance featuring Select Professor Reiko Watanabe.
Despite blustery and unseasonably cold conditions, AIU's Kanto Team performed outside Suda Hall for the new students and their parents to close out the day's events.
April 8 also marked the 14th anniversary of AIU opening its doors to the first class of students in April 2004. The university has come a long way since the first intrepid class matriculated to a then-unknown institution. Since AIU's establishment as Japan's first international liberal arts college, it's pursuit of a unique educational model - teaching all courses only in English and requiring a year of study abroad for all students - combined with the close, personal attention to students' educational development from faculty and staff, have propelled the university to the heights of Japanese higher education.
In 2018, Times Higher Education recognized AIU as the #12 university in Japan, out of over 800. AIU was also the #1 university in two out of four measured pillars: Engagement, which measures the quality of university teaching, and Environment, which measures the campus' diversity and inclusivity.
From that first group joining a new and unknown university with a unique vision, to the 14th class that joined the AIU learning community yesterday, students have continued to rise to the challenges that face them, allowing AIU to set progressively higher goals and become the leader in international education in Japan.