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June 20, 2008

UniÍtalo of Brazil Honors Daisaku Ikeda

Rector Antonio Cascino (foreground, 4th from right), presents the honorary degree certificate and medal for Mr. Ikeda to his son, Hiromasa Ikeda (foreground, 3rd from left), with Board Chair Vinicius

Centro Universitário Ítalo Brasileiro, also known as UniÍtalo, in São Paulo, Brazil, recently conferred its first honorary doctorate on Daisaku Ikeda, SGI president. The conferral ceremony took place on June 20, 2008, at the SGI-Brazil (BSGI) Ikeda Culture Center in São Paulo with local BSGI members in attendance. UniÍtalo Rector Marcos Antonio Gagliardi Cascino entrusted the university's honorary degree certificate and medal to Mr. Ikeda's son, Hiromasa Ikeda, who received them on his father's behalf. Among the other attendees from the university were UniÍtalo Board of Trustees Chair Marcos Vinicius Busoli Cascino and UniÍtalo International Relations Director Alfredo E. Grimaldi.

In his citation, Rector Cascino lauded Mr. Ikeda for his efforts to link people together on the basis of trust and the development of wisdom. The rector stated that the faculty of UniÍtalo felt a strong affinity with Mr. Ikeda and his educational ideals, which are based on faith in the boundless potential of each student and are focused on inspiring an ethic of social contribution.

In a message read at the ceremony, Mr. Ikeda reflected on his meeting 33 years ago with Club of Rome founder Aurelio Peccei (1908-84). In their ensuing dialogue, the two concluded that the Earth's greatest sustainable resources are within human beings themselves. Education that develops individuals of discernment and wisdom is therefore crucial. In this regard, the SGI leader remarked, UniÍtalo, which upholds "humanitarianism" as its guiding principle and aims to foster the potential of every student, is making important contributions to a much-needed educational renaissance. Mr. Ikeda expressed his hopes to work together with the UniÍtalo faculty to further advance humanistic education.

The link between Mr. Ikeda and UniÍtalo was first formed after Board of Trustees Chair Vinicius Cascino read Mr. Ikeda's May 2005 message to the first graduating class of Soka University of America (SUA) in Aliso Viejo, California. Professor Cascino was struck by Mr. Ikeda's thinking and felt the speech got to the heart of the humanitarian education philosophy that UniÍtalo pursues. This sparked an interest among the faculty and staff of UniÍtalo in Mr. Ikeda's ideas and led to the decision by the university to confer its first honorary doctorate upon him.

UniÍtalo was founded as a school for typists in 1949 by the board chair's grandfather Pasquale Cascino, an Italian educator who had immigrated to Brazil. The school steadily grew to become a small college specializing in business management and accounting instruction. By 1994, UniÍtalo had developed into a prestigious academic institution offering comprehensive education from kindergarten through graduate school. UniÍtalo has since come to be recognized for its educational excellence. In particular, its nursing program has earned an outstanding reputation in Brazil. Some 7,000 students are enrolled in the university's undergraduate and graduate programs.

[Adapted from an article in the June 26, 2008 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]

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