DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > Paul Zionts honored by namesake of DePaul’s Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies
By Russell Dorn /
January 26, 2023 /
Posted in: CAMPUS AND COMMUNITY /
For his role in helping to bring the Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies to DePaul, former College of Education dean Paul Zionts was honored by the institute's namesake, Daisaku Ikeda, in a November ceremony at the college.
A Buddhist philosopher, peacebuilder, author and educator, Ikeda, the president of Soka Gakkai International, has shown a commitment to the belief that society must serve the essential needs of education, rather than education serving the needs of society. The founder of a network of 16 schools and universities in seven countries across Asia and the Americas, Ikeda was the recipient of a DePaul honorary degree in 2016.
Upon hearing that Zionts was
stepping down from his role as dean of the College of Education, Ikeda asked his colleagues Mitsuaki Asano and Masami Shigeno from the Soka Gakkai Public Information office in Tokyo to travel to DePaul to offer his appreciation for the work of the institute and Zionts' long support.
"I would like to thank you for your warm and kind understanding and cooperation with our philosophy and activities," Ikeda wrote to Zionts. "There is a teaching in Buddhism that can be translated as 'a departure that is not a departure.' It means that, even though one's title or position may change, one continues to fulfill one's mission in life. Although your position may have changed, I wish you continued good health and success in your endeavors for DePaul University and in fostering the next generation of capable people," Ikeda added.
Established at DePaul in April 2014, the Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education was the first such university-affiliated institute in the Anglophone academy worldwide. The institute's purpose is to research the philosophies and practices of renowned Japanese educators Ikeda, Josei Toda and Tsunesaburo Makiguchi.
During its time at DePaul, the institute has become known for award-winning research, translations, professional development, forums, international conferences and affiliated degree and credential programs in Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship. It has distinguished itself within the global academy as the leading center for scholarship and educator preparation in the international fields of Ikeda/Soka studies in education and Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship, says Jason Goulah, director of the Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies.
In spring 2022, DePaul and the institute launched a new, online Doctor of Philosophy program in Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship with students logging in from countries across Asia, Europe and the Americas. It is the first doctoral degree in the world based largely on the educational philosophies and practices of Ikeda, Toda and Makiguchi. The degree prepares students for research, scholarly and professional careers in academic and cultural institutions, organizations and policy centers and agencies around the world.
"The nearly nine-year partnership with Daisaku Ikeda has been really important to the College of Education," says Zionts. "What originally attracted the college to the educational teachings of Daisaku Ikeda was the similarity to DePaul's mission and the work we do around social justice. I'm confident this partnership will continue to grow in the coming years, and I'm very excited to see what the next chapter holds."
Appointed dean of the College of Education in July 2009, Zionts stepped down from his role at the end of 2022.
"Dean Zionts has been instrumental in advocating for and realizing DePaul's many engagements with the philosophy and practice of Daisaku Ikeda and his predecessors," says Goulah. "The institute would not be here at DePaul without him, and he supported additions to the curriculum and degree programs every step of the way."