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April 17, 2007

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA, Honors Soka University Founder

UWM Chancellor Carlos E. Santiago (foreground, right), presents the certificate to Mr. Ikeda

The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM), in Wisconsin, USA, conferred an honorary doctorate of humane letters upon Soka University founder Daisaku Ikeda in recognition of his significant efforts to actualize the universal values of peace and freedom. The ceremony took place at the Soka University central tower in Hachioji, Tokyo, on April 17, 2007. Attending were UWM Chancellor Carlos E. Santiago, Regent Thomas A. Loftus of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents and a former U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Norway, Associate Professor Lakshmi K. Bharadwaj, and Assistant Director Douglas Savage of the Institute of World Affairs at UWM.

During the ceremony, participants paid silent tribute to the victims of the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech on April 16 that left over 30 dead.

UWM, which traces its history back to 1885 when it was established as a teachers' training college, is one of two public doctoral research universities in the state, offering students comprehensive liberal arts and professional education through 156 degree programs. The school has international exchange programs with more than 50 overseas institutes and 700 of the 28,000 current students hail from over 85 countries and territories. UWM places high priority on serving students, manifested in programs such as "Access to Success," a campus-wide initiative providing guidance, peer support and academic counseling.

In his greetings, Chancellor Santiago referred to the senseless mass shooting at Virginia Tech and affirmed that now is the time to advance with undaunted resolve to realize truth, peace and mutual understanding. Regent Loftus then delivered an address citing Mr. Ikeda's extraordinary efforts and achievements dedicated to the realization of humanity's universal values of freedom, dignity and peace, and his commitment and belief in education, as well as his inspirational leadership that has bridged countries and cultures of the world.

Following the presentation of the diploma and UWM's academic hood, Mr. Ikeda delivered his acceptance speech, beginning with his heartfelt condolences for those who suffered from the horrific tragedy at Virginia Tech the previous day. Referring to the educational traditions of UWM and the words of Martin Luther King Jr., he stated that the mission of universities and the role of teachers is to foster leaders of justice and conviction who can surmount such adversities and open up a brighter future for humankind. Mr. Ikeda further shared his commitment to work even harder for humanity's peace and happiness and toward the promotion of education.

[Adapted from an article in the April 18, 2007, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]