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Two Venezuelan Universities Commend Soka University Founder

Mr. Ikeda receives an honorary award from University of Santa Maria Vice Rector of Administration Carlos Enrique Peña

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On March 20, 2007 at a combined graduation ceremony of Soka University and Soka Women's College, Universidad Santa María (USM) and Universidad Rafael Belloso Chacín (URBE) each conferred an honorary doctorate upon Soka University founder Daisaku Ikeda. Mrs. Kaneko Ikeda received a certificate of honorary professorship and a commemorative medal from USM marking the 50th anniversary of the university's founding and an honorary doctorate from URBE. The Ikedas were recognized for their longstanding contributions to world peace through the promotion of education and culture. The ceremony took place at Soka University's central auditorium.

Founded in 1953 as the first private university in Venezuela, Universidad Santa María is now the largest private institution in the country. It has five campuses with a main campus in Caracas, as well as research centers in twelve states. Some 50,000 students study in its five faculties and twelve departments. The university is the alma mater of many of Venezuela's leading judges.

In his conferral speech, USM Vice Rector of Administration Carlos Enrique Peña remarked that he first learned about the SGI president's philosophy and achievements through the "Gandhi, King, Ikeda: A Legacy of Building Peace" exhibition held at the university in June 2005. He said he wholly concurs with Mr. Ikeda's philosophy and global peace activities. He reiterated the exhibition's message that the root causes of humanistic development that will lead to positive changes in society are found in upholding the sanctity of life, working for humanity's happiness and promulgating non-violence. Asserting that society has great need for these ideals, Dr. Peña announced USM's plans for offering a special course in the Faculty of Law beginning in 2008 based on building a culture of peace, a concept promoted by the SGI.

Universidad Rafael Belloso Chacín, named after Rafael Belloso Chacín (1897-1971), an eminent Venezuelan surgeon who contributed to the advancement of gynecology, was founded in 1989 in Maracaibo by his son Oscar Enrique Belloso Medina. Renowned for its advanced computer technology and the strength of its bilingual (Spanish and English) language program, URBE has an enrollment of around 50,000 as well as 16,000 distance learning students.

Rector Belloso praised Mr. and Mrs. Ikeda for their tireless contributions to the promotion of education for over half a century. He declared it a great honor for his university to recognize the Ikedas for exemplifying the values of humanism, peace, compassion, and integrity.

President Ikeda delivered an address in which he offered his deepest gratitude to the Venezuelan universities for the accolades and congratulated the graduating students.

[Adapted from an article in the March 21, 2007, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]