Source: The New York Times
On July 25, 2001, The New York Times printed a front-page article about Soka University of America, "the first new private liberal arts college to be built in California in 25 years...Some [enrolled] students turned down admission to the likes of Bryn Mawr and Brown to be pioneers in a Buddhist-inspired experiment where everyone from the president to a janitor has the same-size office." The principal architect has designed projects for Stanford. Phillip Hammond, a professor of religious studies at UC Santa Barbara and author of Soka Gakkai in America: Accommodation and Conversion, said, "The fact is [Soka Gakkai International, which is financing the school] are a very engaged kind of Buddhism. They are not trying to escape from the world, they're trying to change the world." The mayor of Aliso Viejo said that "one of the biggest stumbling blocks for them was that they've been accused or suspected of being a cult. But they did a very good job of informing people what they wanted to do and they have been just the nicest people to work with."