Public Affairs

California State University Unveils Nisei Diploma Project Videos

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Colleen Bentley
(562) 951-4801 or
Kim Shibata

(562) 951-4811

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(October 18, 2011) – Nearly 70 years after Executive Order 9066 forced 250 California State University students to leave their campuses without completing their degrees, several former students’ stories will be brought to light at various locations the last week of October 2011 with the screenings of the videos The California State University: Sharing and Celebrating Stories from Nisei Honorary Degree Recipients.

“The project is a memorial dedicated to the CSU students who were removed from our campuses in 1941-42 and sent to internment camps, unable to complete their educations," said Colleen Bentley, CSU director of special projects. “The CSU Board of Trustees awarded these students honorary bachelor’s degrees in 2010, and the videos capture the dignity of the ceremonies as well as the celebration of the families.”

The scheduled screenings are:

Oct. 25 - San Francisco
Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC)
1840 Sutter St. San Francisco
6 p.m.

Oct. 26 - CSU East Bay
Power to the People (P2P) Reel Talk Documentary Series
CSU East Bay University Union
25800 Carlos Bee Blvd. Hayward
4 p.m.

October 27 - San José
Japanese American Museum of San José (JAMsj)
535 N. Fifth St. San José
4 p.m.

October 28 - Fresno State
Madden Library, 2nd Floor
5241 N. Maple Ave. Fresno
4 p.m.

George Takei, actor and member of the CSU Nisei Honorary Committee, introduces the videos, and Bob Suzuki, president emeritus, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, narrates the videos.  They also feature remarks from Assembly Member Warren Furutani, author of AB 37, the legislation that called on the CSU to award the honorary degrees.

The honorees and/or their families from Fresno State are:

  • Dr. Donna Arase, daughter of Harold H. Arase
  • Dr. Joan Otomo-Corgel and John Otomo “Bucky” Corgel, family of John Hiroshi Otomo
  • Susan Kiyoi, niece of Helen and Velma Yemoto
  • Louise Isako Miyake

The honorees and/or their families from San Francisco State are:

  • Hatsune Arita Fukuchi
  • Ken Miyake, son of Yoshiko Miya

The honorees and/or their families from San José State are:

  • Yoshihiro (Yosh) Uchida
  • Dana Ono, son of Fumi Yokoyama Ono

The honorees and/or their families from San Diego State are:

  • June Kushino
  • Carl Yoshimine
  • Barbara Mukai, daughter of Viola Midori Takeda

The honorees and/or their families from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo are:

  • Kazunori Katayama
  • Frank Suzuki
  • Terushi Naritoku

The production and dissemination of the stories is funded by a $23,000 grant to the CSU Chancellor's Office from the California State Library through the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program and aims to honor the approximately 120,000 Californians of Japanese ancestry who were impacted by Executive Order 9066.

It is estimated that about 2,500 Japanese American students were forced to leave California’s colleges and universities, and at least 250 of them were from CSU campuses in Fresno, Pomona, San Diego, San Francisco, San José and San Luis Obispo. The campuses searched their yearbooks, archives, library records, historical documents and other materials and were able to contact or locate about 125 of the 250 former students or their families.

Memorable commencement ceremonies were held at six campuses in spring 2010 at Fresno, San Diego, San Francisco, San José, San Luis Obispo and Dominguez Hills, the latter serving as the Los Angeles area site for any elderly Nisei who could not travel to their home campuses. Degree recipients were often attired in caps and gowns, with family members standing in for those who were deceased or too ill to travel. Although long overdue, the students are now recognized as alumni of their campuses.

Stories and videos of those ceremonies are located at the CSU Nisei honorary degree website, www.calstate.edu/nisei. The new videos will be posted shortly on the site.

It is anticipated that screenings will be scheduled at or near Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and San Diego State, and in the Los Angeles area either at CSU Dominguez Hills or a museum or community center. Once scheduled, they will be posted on the website.

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About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 412,000 students and 43,000 faculty and staff.  The CSU awards about 90,000 degrees annually and since its creation in 1961 has conferred nearly 2.6 million.  Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces.  The mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever changing needs of the people of California.  With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California.

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