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March 23, 2007

Palermo University Confers Honorary Doctorate in Communications on SGI President

SGI President Ikeda in a prerecorded video message

On March 23, 2007, the University of Palermo, a national university in Sicily, Italy, with a 200-year history, conferred an honorary doctorate in communications on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda in recognition of his global dialogues on behalf of peace. The ceremony, which was part of the university's bicentennial celebration, was held at the university's Faculty of Engineering building with some 1,000 guests attending, including university officials, faculty and students. University Rector Giuseppe Silvestri entrusted the award to Soka Gakkai Vice General Director Hiromasa Ikeda, who accepted it on his father's behalf.

The University of Palermo was founded in 1806. The school's 12 faculties, which include engineering, law, and medicine, support a student body of more than 70,000. The university has an annual enrollment of about 500 international students, and is party to academic exchange agreements with over 120 schools around the world. Located on Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Palermo has long been a cultural crossroads. As a port of call it has continued to be a gathering place of peoples of diverse ethnicity, languages and cultures.

In his opening address, University Rector Giuseppe Silvestri said he first learned about the SGI and its leader when he attended the campus showing in 2001 of the SGI exhibition "Toward the Century of Humanity--Human Rights in Today's World." He subsequently read several of Mr. Ikeda's books and was impressed with the spirit of nonviolence conveyed in his works.

Department of Communications Chair Antonio La Spina explained that in conferring the honorary degree, the University of Palermo recognizes Mr. Ikeda as an outstanding educator and communicator. He praised Mr. Ikeda for his dialogues with many prominent individuals from a diverse array of fields and cultures and commended him for his leadership of a global peace movement.

In a prerecorded video message shown at the ceremony, Mr. Ikeda extended his deep appreciation for the honor and paid homage to the legacy of the University of Palermo that has contributed to restoring humanity's infinite creativity in the modern era through promoting the harmonious coexistence of diverse cultures as well as a culture of peace. Following the video message, Mr. Ikeda's commemorative lecture entitled The "The Interaction of Civilizations Leads to a Flourishing Culture of Humanity" (University of Palermo, Italy, 2007) was read by proxy.

Giuseppe Quatriglio, the author of Thousand Years in Sicily: From the Arabs to the Bourbons that Mr. Ikeda referenced in his lecture, said he was honored that the SGI president quoted from his works, and commented that Mr. Ikeda's words contain a powerful message of truth for our contemporary society that is mired in endless conflicts.

[Adapted from an article in the March 26, 2007, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]