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06/01/94

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Okimoto to chair panel exploring Asian American studies program

STANFORD -- Daniel Okimoto, professor of political science and co-director of the Asia/Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, has been named chairman of an ad hoc committee to examine the possibility of establishing an Asian American studies program.

John Shoven, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, made the appointment following a meeting Friday, May 27, with Okimoto, several other faculty members, staff, students and alumni who support a degree-granting program in Asian American studies.

The other members of the 10-person committee have yet to be announced. Okimoto said the committee should be in place and have met at least once by commencement June 12.

Members will include two Asian American students, one undergraduate and one graduate, and eight faculty members, at least three of whom will be Asian American, Okimoto said.

Over the summer, he said, "We'll be doing a lot of legwork, looking at other universities that have Asian American departments or programs - such as Berkeley and UCLA - and finding out how those programs came about."

The committee would do much of its work during Fall Quarter and hopes to prepare a report and deliver it to Shoven by around Thanksgiving, Okimoto said. He added that the panel would look at whether Stanford should establish a program and, if so, also offer advice on how to go about doing so.

The issue of Asian American studies has been active for 20 years at Stanford, and in recent weeks has gained renewed interest on campus.

Members of the group Concerned Students for Asian American Studies spoke to the Faculty Senate at its May 19 meeting, where they urged the legislative body to take action toward creating a program in Asian American studies.

Students from the same group had disrupted the May 12 Faculty Senate meeting, prompting a premature adjournment.

At the May 12 meeting, Shoven told the senators that he had already arranged the May 27 meeting with supporters of Asian American studies, and that a similar committee was being created to look at the possibility of forming a C hicano studies program.

Okimoto, who was born in a World War II internment camp for Japanese Americans, has been a member of the Stanford faculty since 1977. He and his wife, Nancy Okimoto, were resident fellows for four years in what is now Okada Hou se, the Asian American theme house (formerly called Junipero House).

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