Public Affairs

CSU Grants Honorary Degrees to Japanese American Internees

CSU presented an honorary degree to the daughter of a WWII internee.
CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed (left), Vivian Uwate Nelson, daughter of former San
Francisco State University student Aiko Nishi Uwate, Assemblymember Warren T.
Furutani, and Board of Trustees Chair Jeffrey L. Bleich after Uwate received the first
CSU honorary bachelor's degree.

September 23, 2009
By Clara Potes-Fellow

The CSU Board of Trustees voted unanimously to grant honorary bachelor's degrees to Japanese Americans who were enrolled at CSU campuses and forced to internment camps during World War II. The first degree was awarded Sept. 23, 2009 to Aiko Nishi Uwate, a Japanese American woman who was removed from San Francisco State University and sent to Gila River relocation camp in Arizona. The posthumous degree was accepted by Uwate's daughter, Vivian Uwate Nelson, a resident of Los Angeles County.

The Trustees’ action followed legislation authored by Assemblymember Warren T. Furutani this year that directs California’s postsecondary education institutions to extend honorary degrees to individuals who were unable to complete their post-secondary education due to their forced incarceration during World War II.

"AB 37 is an opportunity for our state to honor Americans of Japanese descent who suffered a significant injustice,” said Furutani.  “This legislation reflects our state’s commitment to correcting this ‘unfinished business’ for a waning population of deserving students."  Press Release.

Tags: Japanese American, Honorary Degrees, World War II, Warren t. Furutani, Uwate, Nisei, AB 37, CSU Board of Trustees, CSU, California State University