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November 17, 2020

Brazil’s Federal University of Piauí Presents Honorary Doctorate

Federal University of Piaui presents an honorary doctorate to Daisaku Ikeda
Rector Lopes (center) entrusts the award certificate for founder Ikeda to SGI-Brazil General Director Shiratori (left)

On November 17, 2020, Federal University of Piauí (UFPI) in Brazil conferred an honorary doctorate upon Soka University founder Daisaku Ikeda in recognition of his lifelong contributions to science, literature, arts and culture. UFPI Rector José Arimatéia Dantas Lopes entrusted the award to SGI-Brazil General Director Miguel Shiratori, who received it on Mr. Ikeda’s behalf. The ceremony, attended by participants connected online to the main venue on UFPI campus, was held a day prior to November 18, when Rector Lopes completes his second term as rector and Soka education celebrates its 90th anniversary.

Established in 1971, UFPI is a federal university located in Teresina, in the state of Piauí. It is a major university in its state and one of the main academic research institutions in Brazil’s Northeast Region. Placing great emphasis on giving back to the community, UFPI was also one of the first institutions to take action amidst the COVID-19 pandemic by opening its gymnasium as a temporary hospital and delivering medical supplies to hospitals in other areas. Founded in the same year, both UFPI and Soka University will celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2021.

In his conferral speech, Rector Lopes referred to the international forum on Soka education in August 2019, when representatives from Soka University and 18 universities throughout Brazil signed a joint statement affirming their commitment to work together to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The statement grows out of a shared commitment to the ideals of humanistic education. Rector Lopes remarked that the connection between UFPI and Mr. Ikeda through a partnership agreement with Soka University and now the conferral of an honorary doctorate align with UFPI’s mission and values: “commitment to social justice, equity, citizenship, ethics, preservation of the environment, transparency and democratic management.”

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Ikeda said he was impressed to learn that the three torches depicted in the UFPI emblem represent the university’s commitment to illuminate with “the light of knowledge” the community, society and the future. It recalled for him the illustration of a lamp depicted on the cover and title page of The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy, the publication of which, on November 18, 1930, marked the birth of Soka education. Ninety years ago, in a period shrouded by the darkness of nationalism and militarism, the book illuminated society with the light of value-creating education fueled by the hope of bringing happiness to young lives. Mr. Ikeda concluded by sharing his determination to help nurture the flame of humanistic education and public service ignited by the prestigious UFPI under the leadership of Rector Lopes. 

[Adapted from an article in November 21, 2020, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]

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