Simpson Receives Honorary Degree in Japan

Release Date: April 12, 2007

BUFFALO, N.Y. – University at Buffalo President John B. Simpson received an honorary doctorate degree from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT) last week in Tokyo during a ceremony welcoming freshman students to TUAT.

The honorary degree was presented in recognition of the close and longstanding ties between UB and TUAT, which has been UB's exchange partner in Japan since 1993. Since its establishment, the partnership has grown to include faculty, student and staff exchanges, joint research and other forms of collaboration.

In his address to TUAT students upon receiving the honorary degree, Simpson paid tribute to the strength of the UB-TUAT partnership and challenged the students to reach beyond Japan's borders to help develop collaborative solutions to global problems.

"You are beginning your university studies at a critical juncture, both for world affairs and for higher education itself," Simpson said. "As you know, the period since the terrorist attacks on the United States on 9/11 has prompted much reflection, both in the U.S. and elsewhere, about the challenges we all face, particularly future leaders such as yourselves, in promoting peace and mutual understanding among the nations and peoples of the world.

"In light of these challenges, we need to do a better job than we have previously of recognizing and understanding the new realities of the 21st century and working together to develop global solutions that draw on the best talents and efforts of all of us."

During his 10-day trip to Japan, which concludes April 14, Simpson also will visit two of UB's other major partner institutions in Japan, Konan University in Kobe, and Kanazawa University in Buffalo's sister city, Kanazawa. He is being accompanied by his wife, Katherine, and UB Professor Stephen C. Dunnett, vice provost for international education.

"TUAT has done UB a great honor by bestowing on our president an honorary doctorate, which he has accepted on behalf of our entire university community," said Dunnett. "We are indeed proud of our close and longstanding ties to TUAT, and we will always treasure this magnanimous gesture of friendship and respect from one of Japan's great institutions of higher learning."

UB's partnership with TUAT grew out of existing research collaborations involving a number of UB faculty in the sciences, beginning with Paras Prasad, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry and executive director of UB's Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics, who collaborated with his TUAT counterpart, Professor Seizo Miyata. Miyata later became president of TUAT.

Miyata and his TUAT colleague Professor Takashi Yamamoto were instrumental in establishing the exchange with UB and visited Buffalo many times, most recently in October 2004 to attend Simpson's the inauguration as UB's 14th president.

When the exchange with TUAT was established, UB had several other partner universities in Japan, but none with TUAT's strengths in the basic and applied sciences, Dunnett noted.

Simpson's visit to Japan also included a reception in his honor hosted by UB's Alumni Association Chapter in Japan. Chapter president Toshio Matsutani and executive secretary Jack Witt were honored by Simpson for their service to the chapter.

Matsutani is president and CEO of Beniya, Co., Ltd., a well-known upscale fashion retail chain headquartered in Kobe, Japan, with stores throughout the country. Witt is the founder and director of the Interlanguage Group, which provides language instruction, curriculum consulting and editing services to companies, colleges and schools, as well as government and private agencies.

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