University of Minnesota, USA, Presents Honorary Doctorate
On May 14, 2022, The University of Minnesota (UMN) in the USA presented Daisaku Ikeda, founder of Soka University, with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, for his dedication to the promotion of education and peace globally. The conferral took place during a graduation ceremony of the Master of Public Policy degree program of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. University Board of Regents Chair Kendall J. Powell and School of Public Affairs Dean Nisha Botchwey entrusted the degree certificate to SGI Vice President Yoshiki Tanigawa, who traveled from Japan.
Tracing its origins to 1851, UMN is among the preeminent public research universities in the US. It counts among its graduates 25 Nobel laureates. The city of Minneapolis, where the university is located, presented President Ikeda with an honorary citizenship in March 2020 and in October of the same year dedicated the Cherry Tree Peace Grove in Loring Park in tribute to the three founding Soka Gakkai presidents and their value creation philosophy.
Founder Ikeda was recommended for the degree
by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the College of Food, Agricultural,
and Natural Resource Sciences. Associate Dean Catherine Squires of the Humphrey
School initially became aware of Mr. Ikeda’s peace efforts and was impressed by
his philosophy and actions, which are resonant with the graduate school’s
mission to “serve the public interest in a diverse world.”
Dean Botchwey introduced Mr. Ikeda as a
“person of extraordinary caliber and immense accomplishments,” remarking on
his continuing contributions to peace and nonviolence at the age of 94. She noted
his 2022 Peace Proposal, “Transforming Human History: The Light of Peace and
Dignity” which, she said, makes a powerful case for the need for
human-to-human connections as a path to surmount global crises.
Following the reading of the citation by Board Chair Powell, SGI Vice President Tanigawa read a message from Mr. Ikeda expressing his appreciation for the honor. He began by extending his congratulations to the graduates, saying that as the founder of a university he knew the profound emotions with which one sends off graduates year after year.
Noting that the Mississippi River has its
headwaters in Minnesota, he expressed his wish that just as the waters of the
river remain connected “in a continuous stream as it enriches vast expanses of
land . . . each graduate, fused with the life of the university and drawing on
it as an inexhaustible wellspring of the spirit, will go on to create new value
Mr. Ikeda went on to remark that it was exactly 50 years since he had engaged in a series of dialogues with British historian Dr. Arnold J. Toynbee. He recalled that Toynbee had delivered a lecture at the University of Minnesota in 1955 in which he advocated that the only way to avoid the destruction of humankind is for the peoples of the world to learn to embrace and respect their diversity. It was in this spirit that Mr. Ikeda said he has continued to pursue dialogue.
One such dialogue was with Indian agronomist Dr. M. S. Swaminathan, with whom Mr. Ikeda had discussed the achievements of UMN alumnus Dr. Norman Ernest Borlaug, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in reducing global hunger. Dr. Borlaug’s words, “you can’t build a peaceful world on empty stomachs and human misery,” and his call for “cooperation, not competition to be the order of the day,” should be heeded now more than ever, Mr. Ikeda declared.
wish that the school’s graduates would achieve “great contributions for the
future of a united humankind,” Mr. Ikeda concluded his message with a pledge
“to work, alongside young people throughout the world, to ensure that the great
flow of peace, culture, and education continues into the future.”
[Adapted from an article in the May 17, 2022, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]