The University

Building international connections

As you read this, Associate Provost and Director of the Office of International and Transnational Affairs Eunsook Hyun, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Winston Langley, and I are in Japan. We departed Thursday evening to represent the University of Massachusetts Boston in a very special series of ceremonies at Soka University in Tokyo.

We were invited by one of the world’s largest and most diverse lay Buddhist organizations, Soka Gakkai, to present an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, honoris causa, to founder and leader Daisaku Ikeda in person, after Mr. Ikeda was not able to attend our commencement ceremony in June. Soka Gakkai, which promotes a philosophy of character development and social engagement for peace, is graciously covering our expenses; they are extending this hospitality to us in part because the degree we are conferring on Mr. Ikeda is his 300th such honor – a tremendous achievement and an important milestone. The chance to meet this extraordinary leader – a Buddhist philosopher, peace builder, educator, and author – in person will be an experience the provost, associate provost, and I will treasure.

During our trip, we will also sign a formal memorandum of understanding between the University of Massachusetts Boston and Soka University, which Mr. Ikeda founded in 1971. This agreement will promote academic collaborations and transnational research activities for faculty and students. A second agreement will establish a student exchange between our two institutions, in which two students from each university every year will be selected to visit the other on an academic exchange. This will be an exciting opportunity for our students!

After Sunday’s signing event and honorary degree ceremony, I will return to the United States and Provost Langley and Associate Provost Hyun will travel on to Korea to meet with other university officials in Seoul.

Although Provost Langley, Associate Provost Hyun, and I are very pleased to be representing our great university abroad, we will regretfully miss watching the Beacons women’s volleyball team play Calvin College in the Elite-8 Round of the NCAA Division III tournament in St. Louis this afternoon. You can watch a live video stream of the match today at 4 p.m. by visiting our athletics website.

Our congratulations to Coach Terry Condon and the team for a remarkable year! The university community is proud indeed and will host a welcome-home rally on Monday, November 22, at 12:30 p.m. in the Campus Center. I hope you can attend.