ICU confers degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, on former U.S. Senator John Davison Rockefeller, IV

Update: March 28, 2019

On Friday March 15, ICU has conferred the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, upon former U.S. Senator and former West Virginia Governor John Davison Rockefeller, IV.

Senator Rockefeller taught English and studied Japanese at ICU from 1957 to 1959 while taking a leave of absence from Harvard University. Then he went on to dedicate his life's work to the state and people of West Virginia.

During his time in public service, he developed close relationships between Japan and West Virginia. As Governor, he set up an Economic Development Office in Japan, which led many Japanese companies to collaborate with West Virginia, including Toyota Motor Corporation, which built car factories in West Virginia to serve the North American market.

Senator Rockefeller's distinguished life of public service and his efforts to strengthen the relationship between the citizens of Japan and the United States are both exemplary of ICU's mission to cultivate "internationally minded citizens who perform service to God and humankind and make contributions to lasting peace." In recognition of his distinguished service to his community, his state, his country, and the cause of international understanding and cooperation, ICU conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Statement from Senator Rockefeller

I am pleased to accept this honorary doctorate degree from International Christian University and sincerely thank the ICU community.

Japan is an important ally of the United States and has been a true passion of mine. As both a student and an adult, I feel very close to Japan as did my parents who traveled there virtually every year.

When I was at Harvard and likely to go abroad, I consulted Dr. Edwin Reischauer, who counseled me to go to ICU, and I agreed to do that. ICU is a remarkable and highly respected institution and one that inspired me to work hard. I felt very much at home there. As a student, I quickly came to respect the rigor of their academic effort. I worked very hard on the Kanji. I appreciate the hard work that the Japanese devote to education, which helps to prepare them in life.

ICU is the first of educational institution of its kind in Japan and very rapidly became one of the universities of higher learning that encouraged diversity while requiring that one could not graduate from ICU without being bilingual and speaking Japanese.

My experience at ICU encompassed me to think internationally and taught me that the United States is part of a larger world. That influence has continued to this day. It was my first experience with another country, and it broadened my horizons and played a huge role in my life progression. It opened thoughts of a life of public service to me, and for that I am eternally grateful.


1957 Taught English and studied Japanese at ICU (- 1959)
1961 Graduated from Harvard University
1967 Served as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates
1977 Served as Governor of West Virginia
1985 Served as a Senator (- 2015)

Amid controversy over trade friction between Japan and the United States, Senator Rockefeller took office as Governor of West Virginia and strived to enhance economic relations between Japan and West Virginia, paving the way for the advancement of many Japanese companies into the state. His policy of expanding Japanese companies' local production helped ease the trade friction, which contributed to the enhancement and improvement of the Japan-U.S. economic relationship. He also served as a commissioner of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, dedicating himself to the promotion of bilateral exchange. In recognition of these activities, he was granted the "Eagle on the World" award from the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2008, and the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun from the Japanese government in 2013.

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