Distinguished Alumni of the Year（DAY）賞は、国際基督教大学(ICU)に在籍したことのある卒業生・留学生・教職員の中から、大学および同窓会の知名度・魅力度を高めることに貢献した方に対し、その功績を称えるために贈呈される。齋藤は2002年から2006年までICU同窓会第15代同窓会長として同窓会を率い、斬新なアイデアと若手現役世代や在校生を巻き込む求心力で、現在の「働く同窓会」の礎を作ったことを評され、2020年にDAY賞を受賞した。以下受賞メッセージは、ICU同窓会HPおよびAlumni News(Vol.133, 2020年9月発行）に掲載されたものである。
以下、英文受賞メッセージ（翻訳 ICU同窓会広報部 鈴木律）
I am truly thankful for being selected as one of the Distinguished Alumni of the Year. As the DAY was inaugurated when I served as Alumni Association president, I was hesitant at first about accepting this prize – would I not become a director-actor in a charade! But on second thoughts, it would be an honor to line up shoulder to shoulder with those who have raised ICU’s visibility and appeal, and to thank the alumni and secretariat that have continued these activities for the past 15 years since 2006.
Currently, I am educating and training problem solvers in order to improve corporate performance. Problem Solving is not an academic discipline, nor does it not rely on rote memory to solve issues. I believe that true problem-solving is a way of thinking and utilizing one’s mind. One has to gather the facts and data, uncover the essence, correctly and logically understand the meaning, get people involved, take action and obtain results. Problem-solving makes for better institutions, organizations, corporations and ultimately society. Not only major issues, but by tackling one’s daily chores with a problem-solving approach, life itself would be better. That is to say, learning about problem solving means learning to live.
On assuming the post of president, I utilized the problem solving thought process to create various programs to make the Alumni Association a more vibrant place to gather for the alumni, students and the university as a whole. With the help of the vice presidents, trustees, councillors, secretariat, alumni, students, the committee activities were livened up, the Alumni News renovated and redesigned, the student councillor scheme and Dream Competition introduced, fund-raising parties and the DAY prize organized. These programs should change optimally according to the times. It is my strong wish that the Alumni Association continue to be a venue where activities can be carried out for the benefit of ICU and alumni.
The term “problem solving” may sound easy enough, but if I look at the current situation in Japan, there is a dearth of people who can think through based on this problem solving approach. When Japan’s bubble burst back in 1990, 1300 trillion yen worth of assets went up in smoke and this country’s competitiveness has never recovered. The need for people who have the ability to think properly will become even greater. With more people endowed with problem solving skills, a better organization, a better society and a better country would be built. I will press forward in the education and training of problem solvers.