Welcome Speech by President: FUKUI Tsuguya
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and distinguished guests, it is my special pleasure to have all of you in this ceremony on the memorable inaugural day of the School of Public Health at St. Luke’s International University. I am happy, in particular, that we have here Mr. Omura Shunsuke, a grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Omura Susumu, and Dr. Christopher Ringwald who is a grandson of Dr. Teusler, the founder of the St. Luke’s International Hospital, all the way from the United States. I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to all the entering students in the master’s course. On behalf of all the faculty members, let me say a word of welcome to you.
I would think that all of you had a firm determination to expand and deepen the knowledge and skills of your respective specialties on top of your practical experiences in the past. I myself studied at a School of Public Health in the early 1980s when I was a clinical fellow at a teaching hospital in Boston in the United States. I was fortunate to have a group of excellent colleagues almost my age who wrote up research papers without difficulty which were published in such top journals as Annals of Internal Medicine and Journal of American Medical Association. I was surprised at their knowledge and skills in epidemiology and biostatistics I had never learned before. It soon turned out that they had formal training in Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. That experience drove me to follow suit and I entered the Harvard School of Public Health. My soul was pierced by the importance and substance of the subjects I studied over the course. I then experienced a 180-degree turn in my professional life, that is, my career objective has changed from simply becoming a trustworthy clinician to becoming also a clinical epidemiologist and the founder of a School of Public Health in Japan where no such school existed up until 2000.
In 2000, Kyoto University added a School of Public Health to an array of academic departments. I was fortunate at that time to serve as a chairman of the preparatory committee and the founding dean of the School of Public Health. 17 years later on, today, I am again fortunate to be here contributing to setting up the School of Public health at St. Luke’s, the 5th of its kind in Japan after Kyoto University, Kyushu University, the University of Tokyo, and Teikyo University.
At St. Luke’s, there has been a cultural atmosphere exerting leverage toward the establishment of the School of Public Health. Dr. Teusler who founded the St. Luke’s International Hospital in 1901 took initiatives in a variety of public health fields and preventive medicine from the early days of its foundation. His activities include, for example, teaching hygienic principles to residents and workers at factories in the then poor downtown Tokyo in the early 1900s. He set up a Public Health Department in the hospital in 1928 to promote the health of mothers and children, hygiene in elementary schools, tuberculosis prevention and so on. His public health activities culminated in the foundation of the Kyobashi Health Center, the current Health Center of the Chuo Ward located only a few blocks from here, the first of its kind and omnipresent now in Japan as well as production of physician leaders like Dr. Saito Kiyoshi, a pediatrician-turned president of National Institute of Public Health. Public health efforts have continued after World War II including the setting up of the Well Baby Clinic, the Well Mother Clinic and the Comprehensive Health Screening Program in 1954, probably the first of its kind in the world. As such, St. Luke’s has historically high affinity for public health and preventive medicine. Today’s inauguration is the outcome of the combination of these organizational backgrounds and my personal experiences.
Thanks to Dr. Endo, the Dean, and Drs. Takahashi and Deshpande, Vice-deans of the School of Public Health, our curriculum has such distinctive features as 16 outstanding full-time faculty members from both inside and outside of Japan, the structure ready to apply for accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health in the United States, all lectures to be provided in English and available through an e-learning program, conveniently arranged for students with full-time jobs.
I am filled with gratitude to all the entering students including 5 from outside of Japan for your brave decisions to join us in spite of the lack of our past record in formal public health education. Whether your learning objectives are fulfilled or not will certainly determine the future of the St. Luke’s School of Public Health. Precisely because of that, we are firmly determined to provide you the best ever learning opportunities.
I wish that you will enjoy studying public health, one of the most interesting academic fields I have ever been exposed to, and spread your wings and fly into the future. I hope you have a soul-piercing experience which might entail a 180-degree turn in your professional life as I did almost 35 years ago.
Let me extend again my heartfelt congratulations to all of you and pray for your success and a bright future. Thank you.