Learn how the CSU Nisei Diploma Project came about and how an estimated 250 Japanese Americans who were once CSU students were recognized with an honorary Bachelor of Humane Letters degree.
In 1942, an estimated 250 Japanese American students were forced to leave their CSU campuses and relocated to internment camps during World War II under federal
Executive Order 9066.
On September 23, 2009, the CSU Board of Trustees unanimously voted to honor the academic intentions of these students by awarding them Special Honorary Bachelor of Humane Letters degrees. This is the CSU Nisei Diploma Project.
“The internment of Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants during World War II represents the worst of a nation driven by fear and prejudice,” said then-California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed in a statement.
“By issuing honorary degrees, we hope to achieve a small right in the face of such grave wrongs.”
The CSU worked closely with Assembly Member Warren Furutani, author of Assembly Bill 37, various organizations in the Japanese American community, and the six CSU campuses where historical documents estimate that 250 Japanese Americans were enrolled in spring 1942.
CSU campuses honored the former students at their regular spring commencement ceremonies in 2010 or at special ceremonies coinciding with commencements.
Through these efforts, the California State University strived to:
For more information about the Nisei Diploma Project, please contact
Assembly Member Warren FurutaniAuthor of AB 37
Congressman Mike Honda
Norm MinetaFormer Congressman and U.S. Secretary of Transportation
George TakeiActor; Former Chairman of the Japanese American National Museum
Joan Otomo-CorgelCSU Trustee Emeritus and Fresno State Alumna whose father is a Fresno honoree
Jan YanehiroBay Area broadcast newscaster and host of community-interest programs
Yoshihiro UchidaFormer Olympic and judo coach at SJSU
Paul OsakiExecutive Director, Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California
James HirabayashiFounding curator of the Japanese American National Museum
Kevin StarrCalifornia State Librarian Emeritus and Administrator of the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program
Jeanne Wakatsuki HoustonAuthor of "Farewell to Manzanar"
Bob H. SuzukiFormer President of Cal Poly Pomona
Akemi Kikumura YanoExecutive Director of the Japanese American National Museum
Dale MinamiAttorney; Chaired the federal Civil Liberties Public Education Program
Margaret Iwanaga PenrosePresident and Chief Executive Officer, Union of Pan Asian Communities
Helen KawagoeBoard of Governors, Japanese American National Museum and Carson City Clerk