UCLA Seeks Japanese American Students Whose Education Was Interrupted During World War II

The following is a press release from the UCLA Newsroom. Original story: UCLA Seeks Japanese American Students Whose Education Was Interrupted during World War II.


By Claudia Luther, UCLA Newsroom
February 17, 2010

To download a printable flyer detailing UCLA’s honorary degree program, click on the image above.

UCLA is searching for Japanese American students from the early 1940s who were forced to interrupt their education at UCLA when federal orders sent Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II. This historic wrong will be righted on May 15, when UCLA bestows honorary degrees on these students.

Some of the former students, most now in their 80s and 90s, are expected to attend the ceremony, and family members will receive diplomas on behalf of others who are unable to attend. Still others will receive diplomas by mail. Many former students are deceased.

Approximately 700 University of California students were affected by the World War II directive, more than 200 of whom attended UCLA. The UC Board of Regents voted last July to suspend its moratorium on honorary degrees in order to recognize the students forced from UC classrooms.

“It’s never too late to join with others throughout the nation in recognizing that the mass removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II was wrong,” said Don Nakanishi, who is chairman of UCLA’s honorary degree task force, Professor Emeritus and Director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. “More than 700 UC students had to terminate their studies at UCLA and other campuses, and most never received degrees from these institutions.”

Nakanishi added that by honoring these former students, “We acknowledge the many diverse contributions they made to campus life in student government, athletics and academics and formally welcome them back to our academic communities.”

The keynote speaker at UCLA’s honorary degree event will be state Assemblyman Warren Furutani (D-South Los Angeles County), who carried legislation in the Assembly calling on California’s higher education institutions to extend honorary degrees to individuals whose college education was disrupted. The ceremony at UCLA, which is the fourth of the UC campuses to bestow these honorary degrees, will take place on the same day as the campus’s annual Alumni Day.

UCLA is encouraging family members and others to help identify UCLA students who were unable to graduate because of internment and is asking that information be sent to Patricia Lippert, Associate Director of Special Events and Protocol at UCLA: tricial@support.ucla.edu or (310) 794-8604.

In addition to Nakanishi and Lippert, the members of the UCLA honorary degree task force are Anita Cotter, UCLA Registrar; Margaret Leal-Sotelo, Assistant Provost in the Chancellor’s Office; Gann Matsuda, Technology Director of the School Management Program at the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies; Valerie Matsumoto, Professor of History and Asian American Studies; Karen Nakasato, Internal Vice President of the UCLA Nikkei Student Union; Julie Sina, Chief of Staff for the College of Letters and Science; and Paul Terasaki, Professor Emeritus of Surgery.


Additional information on UCLA’s honorary degree ceremony is available by clicking on Honorary Degrees for WWII Interned Students. You can also download a copy of their flyer about their event by clicking on the image above (Adobe Reader software required).

The University of California is still working to identify and locate former students who may be eligible to receive this honorary degree, even if their UC campus has already held a ceremony or event to confer the degrees (UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UC San Francisco have already held their events; UCLA’s event is scheduled for May 15, 2010). If you believe that you are eligible or if you believe a family member or someone else you know may be eligible, please check out the University’s web site for more information: UC Honorary Degrees.

Related Story:
UCLA: A Wrong Finally Made Right


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