SUA Founder Daisaku Ikeda Receives 401st Academic Honor

June 17, 2022
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Aerial view of University of Minnesota Campus

The University of Minnesota awarded SUA founder Daisaku Ikeda with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during its 2022 commencement ceremony on May 14. The recognition from UMN’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs is the 401th academic honor the 94-year-old Ikeda has received.

Humphrey School Dean Nisha Botchwey introduced Ikeda’s life and contributions in her opening remarks, noting it would be “difficult to adequately describe a person of such extraordinary caliber and immense accomplishments.”

Ikeda congratulated the UMN graduates in his acceptance message, praising them for braving the COVID-19 pandemic and overcoming numerous challenges. “The University of Minnesota was founded in 1851 on the noble conviction that all people are enriched by understanding,” Ikeda said. “The scale of the mission of today’s graduates, who will set out from today to confront an era of crisis with energy and momentum, is truly immeasurable.”

The criteria for nominating and bestowing honorary degrees vary among universities. Recipients are usually not required to meet the typical requirements for a doctorate, such as completing required coursework, passing examinations, or defending a doctoral thesis. Rather, universities bestow such honors to recognize an individual’s lifetime achievements or outstanding contributions to society.

At UMN, the honorary degree is the highest award conferred and may be awarded to individuals who have “achieved acknowledged eminence in cultural affairs, in public service, or in a field of knowledge and scholarship.” UNM’s website notes that honorary degrees are not awarded to encourage or reward financial contributions to the university.

Ikeda joins a distinguished list of UMN honorary degree recipients, including US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (’98); architect Frank Gehry (’99); Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa (’03); and poet and activist Maya Angelou (’07).