Welcome to the inaugural issue of the SOKA newsletter. During this unprecedented year of the COVID-19 pandemic, I hope the newsletter will serve as a resource to connect the Soka community as students, faculty, and staff continue to learn and work remotely.
As we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Aliso Viejo campus this academic year, the US and the world have awakened to the urgency of fighting for racial justice and combating inequality. It is my wish that future issues of this newsletter will share the incredible work being done by our students, faculty, and staff in so many dimensions to highlight and address the societal challenges we all face.
I would also like to take this opportunity to warmly welcome the undergraduate Class of 2024 and the graduate Class of 2022. It has been a privilege to learn about your dreams and passions for the future during our informal one-on-one sessions. I have been so impressed and moved by the individual journeys that have led you to SUA, and your shared desire to challenge yourselves to become global citizens who will transform the world for the better.
Amid so much uncertainty, I know everyone is concerned about our plans for the spring semester. Please know that the Return to Campus Committee, established in June and spearheaded by Katherine King, vice president of human resources and risk management, with the able support of Robert Hamersley, assistant dean of faculty, and Chintan Amin, director of environmental health and safety, is working with all SUA offices to prepare for our students’ safe return. The committee will be sending periodic updates, and I appreciate your continued support and understanding as we make these preparations. Also, we will be working with the Soka Student Union Executive Council to make sure student input and feedback is included in our plans.
SUA’s history is bookended by 9/11 in 2001 and COVID-19 during this 20th anniversary year. I believe this highlights the important mission of our university in the 21st century to become a leader in education for global citizenship as envisioned by our founder, Daisaku Ikeda. Education for global citizenship, with its emphasis on working for the advancement of our individual lives while also working for the well-being of others, is immensely critical to realize a world of peace. The ethic and values of global citizenship can redirect people’s energies by challenging their apathy and self-centered tendencies, which tend to proliferate during difficult times. I look forward to working with all of you as we strive to live up to this noble mission.