Mason Awards Honorary Doctorate to Daisaku Ikeda

Posted: July 6, 2010 at 11:08 am, Last Updated: July 8, 2010 at 8:15 am

By Robin Herron

Provost Peter Stearns, right, presents the honorary degree to Daisaku Ikeda's son, Hiromasa, who accepted on his father's behalf. A translator is at center. Photo courtesy of Soka University

Mason Provost Peter Stearns recently traveled to Tokyo to present an honorary doctorate to Daisaku Ikeda, president of Soka Gakkai International and founder of Soka (value creation) schools in Japan.

Ikeda was selected as a recipient of the Doctor of Humane Letters by Mason’s Board of Visitors (BOV) in December 2009. Usually, such honors are presented at Commencement, but Ikeda, 82, was unable to travel to the United States in May to receive the award.

The resolution passed by the BOV conferring the doctorate cites Ikeda’s lifetime of service to education, his significant contributions to the arts and literature and his leadership of many educational institutions worldwide.

In 1975, Ikeda became the first president of the Soka Gakkai International, a global association of lay Buddhists that has some 12 million members in 191 territories and countries, including the United States.

In addition, Ikeda founded a half-dozen peace and cultural institutions, as well as 15 schools for students from kindergarten through university age.

Ikeda is also the author of more than 100 works, ranging from writings on Buddhist philosophy to poetry and children’s stories.

The honorary doctorate from Mason adds to the more than 290 such honors Ikeda has received in his lifetime from colleges and universities all over the world.

In his comments when presenting the award at Soka University, Stearns said, “As founder of the Soka schools, Ikeda helps to foster each student’s creative potential in an atmosphere of peace, respect, social contribution and global consciousness. A prolific writer, he has pursued dialogue with a range of individuals around the world in political, cultural, educational and academic fields. He is also founder of several cross-cultural, interdisciplinary collaborations on diverse issues.”

Stearns also expressed his hope that Mason could “build active bridges with Dr. Ikeda and Soka University” for advice and guidance on using education to develop peaceful responses to difficult world situations.

The award was accepted on Ikeda’s behalf by his son, Hiromasa Ikeda, vice president of Soka Gakkai International, since Ikeda himself could not attend.

Symbolizing the links between the two universities, several Mason students and graduates with prior Soka backgrounds attended the ceremony.

Stearns was accompanied on the trip by Andrea Bartoli, director of the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and William Reeder, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

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