University partnership inspired Chubu alum to return, introduce his wife to OHIO
The 50-year bond between Chubu University (formerly the Chubu Institute of Technology) and Ohio University, also referred to as the OHIO-Chubu partnership, has been particularly notable for the exchange of each institution’s professors, students, knowledge and gifts during its 50 years.
One OHIO couple knows this sense of interrelation well. After participating in the Chubu program in the late 1980s, Akihisa Hamabuchi, MA ’95, MS ’96, returned to pursue his first graduate degree at OHIO in 1994, bringing along his wife, Yukie Hamabuchi, MS ’96. The following year, they shared a combined OHIO experience by completing the same accounting graduate program.
Akihisa is one of the few OHIO alumni who carry degrees from both OHIO and Chubu universities, earning a bachelor's and master’s degree from Chubu in the late ’80s and early ’90s before returning to OHIO for master’s degrees in international studies and accounting.
Between his first two years at OHIO (1987 to 1989) in the exchange scholarship program and his master’s degree conferrals from OHIO in the mid-90s, Akihisa spent time in Japan, where he worked for Texas Instruments. There, he met Yukie; they married in 1993 and began making plans to come to OHIO together.
With a bachelor’s degree in English literature already under her belt, Yukie started her OHIO education with undergraduate accounting classes to get up to speed before applying to the master’s program. With Akihisa’s recommendation, she decided to meet with one of the professors in the accounting department to discuss her next steps.
“We just walked in without any appointment, but Dr. Robert Sharp was a very friendly person,” Yukie said. She presented Sharp with her resume and a list of courses from her Japanese university and a private accounting school, then asked for his advice in achieving her goal of becoming a certified public accountant (CPA). “He was very kind, and he personally recommended me some course plans,” she recalls. Sharp also recommended that Yukie apply for the master’s program in accounting that he had just started.
Yukie and Akihisa both applied for the program, and both were accepted. The two studied under Sharp and his wife, O’Bleness professor of accounting Dr. Florence Sharp. The nascent graduate program had a relatively small number of participants, as Akihisa recalls, allowing him and Yukie to develop deep connections with both professors.
Post-graduation, the Hamabuchis’ relationship with the Sharps led them to move to Columbus to work at KPMG’s Columbus office, where Akihisa was in the audit department and Yukie was in the tax department. Today, the Hamabuchis are both CPAs living in New Jersey with their adult daughter, Ellis, who also works at one of the Big 4 accounting firms and recently became a CPA, and a high school-age son, Ellia.
“I met many visiting professors and lecturers from OHIO, and so that was my big asset,” Akihisa said. “Everyone I met at Chubu who were from OHIO … they provided me a huge amount of help. Not only guidance and consultation, but also cultural things: how to think and how to survive in the community. … I want to thank everyone I met.”
OHIO professors were hugely influential to the Hamabuchis; Akihisa is still able to list the names and departments of those who taught at Chubu, saying he “really appreciates their friendship.” OHIO’s local accounting instructors, especially Drs. Robert and Florence Sharp, also hold a special place in Yukie and Akihisa’s hearts.” They are just incredible people,” he said. “We still have a connection with many of them. … We just cannot believe it’s been 30 years since [graduating].”
Akihisa's former English instructor at Chubu, OHIO professor Susan Gilfert, was also highly influential to him, as was her father, Dr. James Gilfert. The elder Gilfert was OHIO’s first visiting professor at Chubu in 1973, and he was a great mentor while Akihisa was at OHIO. After Dr. Gilfert died in 2013, Akihisa said, his will dictated that a part of his remains be scattered in Japan. Akihisa started working with Susan and Chubu officials to realize Dr. Gilfert's will. At this time, they plan to scatter Dr. Gilfert's ashes at Chubu's Kohei Miura Garden, named for Chubu’s founder and the site where American Dogwood trees that OHIO gifted to Chubu are planted.
Referring to Chubu University as “the very starting point,” Akihisa said, “I’m hoping that the good, long, relationship between Chubu and OHIO continues in the future.”
For more information about the relationship between Chubu University and Ohio University, visit the OHIO Office of Global Affairs’ website.