Inamori Foundation to establish international center for ethics and excellence at Case

04/12/05

A $10-million gift to Case Western Reserve University from Inamori Foundation--founded by Kazuo Inamori, international business leader and the founder of Kyocera Corp. and the telecommunications giant KDDI--will enable Case to establish the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence.

"The Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence will nurture and inspire global awareness of our common humanity through the study, teaching and practice of ethics and the pursuit of excellence in business, technology and all other forms of human endeavor," Edward M. Hundert, M.D., president of Case, said. "We are extremely proud and honored to be recognized for our compelling excellence and selected to become the world's leader in this important work."

Creator of the famed Kyoto Prize--long considered the world's Nobel Prize for lifetime achievement in the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of mankind--Inamori Foundation has designated a portion of the gift to Case to create an Inamori Prize to annually honor outstanding international figures in the field of ethics. The first Inamori Prize will likely be awarded in 2008.

The Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence will explore different types of ethics to serve as a "common spiritual backbone for humankind and strive to indicate high moral standards and universal viewpoints," according to Inamori. An international search for the Inamori Professor of Ethics, who will serve as director of the center, will begin immediately.

The center also will serve as a symbol of the university's vision to create a learning environment infused and engaged in activities that focus on making the world a better place for humankind.

"The Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence will help our students, our faculty--all who touch Case Western Reserve University--to promote the deep, continuous ethical discourse we have made a priority," Hundert said. "Case aspires to be an environment that will fill the future of humankind with hope and help students and faculty alike to achieve a transformational learning experience."

The center will embody Inamori's personal philosophy, known as the Kyocera philosophy, which is based on the idea of "pursuing what is right for humankind." This and two other principles moved Dr. Inamori to establish Inamori Foundation in 1984. Those other two concepts are: "People have no higher calling than to serve the greater good of humankind and society" and "the future of humanity can be assured only through the balance of scientific progress and the spiritual maturity."

The Kyoto Prize, also established in 1984, is the world's premier honor for individuals who have made significant contributions to the progress of science, technology, advancement of civilization and enrichment and elevation of the human spirit. The award is presented annually in each of the following three categories: advanced technology, basic sciences and arts and philosophy.

"The world needs genuine leaders who serve humankind through ethical deeds rather than actions based on self-interest and selfish desires. The need for such leaders has never been as pressing as it is today," Hundert said. "With the help of Dr. Kazuo Inamori, one of the world's most prominent proponents of ethics, we know that we will have the resources, inspiration and passion to create a better world for all humankind."

In addition to the center, its director and the prize, the gift will:

  • Support the creation of a new Case Campus Center, which will house the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence as a symbol of Case's efforts to embed ethics at the center of the university education, research and service missions
  • Establish the Inamori Endowed Fellowship Program, dedicated to teaching ethics
  • Provide development opportunities in the teaching and practice of ethics for Case faculty
  • Support an International Ethics Symposium, alternately presented at Case and in Japan, during which the Inamori Prize for ethics will be awarded

Ethics has long been an integral part of education and research at Case. The university is home to one of the leading departments of bioethics in the country and to the Center for Genetic Research in Ethics and Law, established in 2004 with a $5.3 million gift from the National Human Genome Research Institute. Case also is home to the Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science, a National Science Foundation-supported initiative; the Center for Professional Ethics, administered through the Case School of Law; and Case's unique undergraduate learning curricula, SAGES, the Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship.

Hundert is himself an experienced ethicist, having been on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School with an appointment in psychiatry and medical ethics. He currently holds an appointment as a professor in the department of bioethics at the Case School of Medicine.

Inamori has recognized Case as a global leader for decades. In 1984, Inamori chose to honor the three universities in the world with what he considered the best ceramics groups; Case was one of those three. As a result, Inamori endowed the Kyocera Distinguished Professorship, which has been held since 1984 by Arthur Heuer, University Professor in Case's department of materials science and engineering.

Since the establishment of the endowed professorship, Inamori has visited the Case campus on several occasions--most recently in October 2002 when he gave the first of a series of new Presidential Visiting Scholar lectures, sponsored by the Office of the President and Provost. His presentation, "Ethics and Leadership in the Global Perspective," was well received and came primarily from his best-selling book, A Passion for Success.

"Dr. Inamori was first compelled to connect with Case because of our expertise in engineering and has since come to realize the university is also an international leader in humanities," Hundert said. "This recognition is a testament to the university's vision investments in liberal arts education as Case redefines the role of the research university in the 21st century."

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