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Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, Illinois, USA
June 6, 2006--Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters

Dr. Walter V. Wendler, Chancellor

[Daisaku] Ikeda's illustrious career includes extensive work in promoting international dialogues, furthering world peace and spreading access to education at primary, secondary and university levels.

His philosophical writing shows the influence of many, including the late, great educator John Dewey. And I should mention that the Center for Dewey Studies, headed by professor Larry Hickman, is part of Southern Illinois University (SIU) Carbondale and we are very pleased that Mr. Ikeda appreciates John Dewey's philosophy and accomplishments.

Mr. Ikeda has been recognized by many institutions and organizations for his vision and compassion for humanity and efforts to impart hope and knowledge. He is a champion of equal rights for women and minorities and understands the peril of ignoring the environment.

Only a few individuals receive honorary degrees each year from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. It is a high honor reserved for individuals who have truly contributed to our world by significantly furthering the opportunities for others or by making specific contributions to higher education, a specific professional or educational field.

A campus committee carefully evaluates nominations for this distinguished award, and the committee's recommendations then come to my (the Chancellor's) office. After my (the Chancellor's) approval, the nominations must still be approved by the head of the SIU System and then the entire SIU Board of Trustees.

We are very pleased that the SIU Board of Trustees unanimously approved awarding this degree at this March meeting this year (2006). We are fortunate that Mr. Ikeda invited us to Japan to share in this very important ceremony.

. . . In each generation there are only a few men and women who leave a mark so indelible that the future changes because of their efforts.

Mr. Ikeda is such a man.

As president and honorary president of Soka Gakkai International, he has opened the doors of education to thousands . . .

Clearly he is concerned about our world. He understands that education and peace, education and the arts, and education and equality are bonds that advance our world.

It would not be inappropriate to compare his vision to the vision of leaders we respect and remember such as Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King [Jr.]

Mr. Ikeda has the ability to focus on worldwide concerns and issues. He knows that from education and communication spring forth understanding and harmony . . .

Mr. Ikeda is truly a man that believes education is acceptable only when it allows for and encourages life-long learning. Education is achieved through living--our experiences from home, school and the workplace lead to truth and knowledge if we are open to possibilities.

His generosity, intellect and spirit have created harmony in a world of disharmony. His deep understanding of our dreams for peace, a better life and a better world continue to inspire thousands across every continent of our planet.

He is a man of his time and a man before his time. He lives at one of the most contentious eras in history. We are capable of annihilating our world at any second--but we are also capable of deep understanding, of reaching out and making life better for our sisters and our brothers who struggle daily with hunger, poverty, strife, war, discrimination and loneliness. Mr. Ikeda has spent his life working to help us achieve a better life and a better world . . .

Eternal destiny depends on those that understand our choices regardless of our circumstances can make a profound difference. Mr. Ikeda understands this.

It is uncommon in any generation to find a common man who focuses with such clarity on international issues. Mr. Ikeda has done this and our world and our lives are better because of his efforts.