February 26, 2011

Announcing Honorary Undergraduate Degree Recipients

Posted in Honorary Degrees, Japanese American Incarceration, Taiko Festival Pictures tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:51 pm by minidokapilgrimage

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

This week marks the 69th anniversary of a sad and shameful chapter in our nation’s history. On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which gave the United States government authority for the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans.

Following the bombing on Pearl Harbor, 120,000 U.S. citizens of Japanese descent were ordered from the West Coast and sent to desolate camps. Among the incarcerated were a number of students enrolled here at Seattle University, who through no fault of their own were suddenly removed from their studies. The indignities and injustices they endured can never be undone, but as a university committed to empowering leaders for a just and humane world we are called in a special way to help with the healing process.

At our undergraduate commencement ceremony on June 12, we will confer honorary bachelor degrees upon these men and women in recognition of the work they did as students and the academic achievements they likely would have realized had they been permitted to continue their studies here. Efforts are now underway to contact the intended recipients or their families. We are very much looking forward to welcoming them back to Seattle University.

Honoring these men and women further affirms our long and special relationship with the Japanese American community. Before World War II a community of Japanese Americans lived on what is now south campus. Famed sculptor George Tsutakawa’s “Centennial Fountain” sits in the heart of campus. Fujitaro Kubota, a Japanese immigrant who was incarcerated at Camp Minidoka in Idaho, designed nine beautiful gardens on our campus. In April 2006, the university dedicated its Japanese American Remembrance Garden, designed by Fujitaro Kubota’s grandson, Allan Kubota, as a tribute to the community that once thrived here.

As we prepare to recognize these Japanese American honorees at commencement, the university is also organizing an exhibit, discussions and other educational programs related to the removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. On Sunday, Feb. 20, the university is co-sponsoring the Day of Remembrance 2011 Taiko Festival, at 2 p.m. in Pigott Auditorium to observe the signing of Executive Order 9066. The campus community is encouraged to attend.

I want to thank the committee members who are working on preparations for this year’s honorary degrees: Co-chairs, School of Law Professor Lori Bannai, associate director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, and Dale Watanabe, international student advisor at the International Student Center; and the many who are contributing to this project including Casey Corr, director of strategic communications in Marketing Communications; Angelique Davis, assistant professor of political science; Kerry Fitz-Gerald , law school reference librarian; Katherine Hedland Hansen, director of communications in the law school; Jacquelyn Miller, associate provost for faculty affairs; and Kathy Ybarra, assistant to the president.

As we prepare for this year’s commencement, let us remember what the Japanese Americans of the 1940s went through, the costs of ignorance and prejudice and the importance of moral leadership in confronting social wrongs during times of crisis and conflict.


Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.

Office of the President

901 12th Avenue, Admn 109
PO Box 222000
Seattle, WA 98122-1090

Tel. (206) 296-1891