Vol. 19, No. 18

Feb. 3, 2000

Honorary degree awarded
U.N. Peace Award winner

UD President David P. Roselle presents Daisaku Ikeda, president of Soka
Gakkai International an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at a ceremony in Tokyo

Daisaku Ikeda, president of Soka Gakkai International, a global association of lay Buddhists, and recipient of the United Nations Peace Award, received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from the University of Delaware in a special ceremony Jan. 16 in Tokyo.

UD President David P. Roselle conferred the degree on Ikeda, calling him a “distinguished educator and articulate advocate of global good citizenship” and noting that his dedication has led to the establishment of schools and universities in both Japan and the U.S. Ikeda has devoted himself to “imparting values that engender respect for the dignity and fundamental rights of all people,” Roselle said.

UD’s connection with Soka Gakkai was first established by the late David L. Norton, professor of philosophy and recipient of an honorary degree from Soka University in recognition of his scholarship on the founder of Soka Gakkai, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi.

After Prof. Norton’s death in 1995, Ikeda established a memorial fund that supports an annual UD lecture, which reflects Prof. Norton’s life and interests, focusing on the nature and relevance of interdisciplinary humanities study.

The degree was awarded in Tokyo at Soha University and was attended by some 2,500 persons–many of them young people. Roselle addressed the group on the importance of education in the global community.

“Modern transportation has made the globe accessible to us all, but, more importantly, electronic technology–from satellite television broadcasts to the Internet–enables us to span the Earth almost instantly,” he said. “Of course, technological breakthroughs are entirely dependent upon one important component– education.

“Education does make a difference. By education, I don’t just mean the knowledge necessary to develop, use and enhance technology. More importantly, it is education that enables us to communicate effectively, to bridge cultures, to share, celebrate and delight in the human experience,” he said.

“The transformation of the individual from a citizen of a town or region to a citizen of the world is proof of the power and value of education. Discovering the limitless possibilities of our existence ensures that the truly educated person never stops learning.”

During the fall of 1998, Hirotaka Kato from Soka University and his wife visited the UD campus for a month. Kato was involved in translating one of Prof. Norton’s books, Democracy and Moral Education, into Japanese.

Also, the University has approved a program whereby two students from Soka University will be in residence in Delaware each year, and there will be similar opportunities for Delaware students to study at Soka University.

Prof. Norton’s widow, Mary, and Raymond Callahan, arts and science, accompanied Roselle on the trip to Japan.