Dear Stanford Community,

May is designated as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month to celebrate the achievements and contributions of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the U.S. This month was chosen to commemorate two important anniversaries: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant in the U.S. on May 7, 1843, and the completion, on May 10, 1869, of the first transcontinental railroad, which could not have been built without the labor of thousands of Chinese workers.

Stanford University is forever linked to the transcontinental railroad. Leland and Jane Stanford built the university to memorialize their son using the fortune they accumulated from the Central Pacific Railroad and the Southern Pacific Railroad. This fortune was amassed in no small part as a result of the work of the Chinese immigrants, a good number of whom also tended “the Farm” and then helped construct the early university.

Asian and Asian American students have been an important part of Stanford history beginning with the inaugural class in 1891. And in 1913, the first professor of Asian descent, Yamato Ichihashi, himself a Stanford alum, was hired in the history department. Over the years, Stanford’s Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander students, scholars, staff and alumni have made innumerable notable contributions to this country, to their communities, to the university and to society in general.

We encourage you to take part in the activities surrounding Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, at Stanford and more broadly. The Asian American Activities Center, A³C, has planned special events for this month, including a forum to discuss anti-Asian violence on May 12, co-sponsored by Stanford Law School’s Center for Racial Justice and the Asian Pacific Islander Law Students Association; and the annual Stanford Asian American Awards Gala on May 27.

It’s important to note that we are celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the context of recent racist incidents targeting Asians in our country, including here in the Bay Area. Sadly, discrimination and racist violence against Asians have a long history in our country, dating back to the first immigrants. We denounce these racist acts and stand firmly in support of our diverse Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

Let us be clear: racism, hatred and discrimination have no place at Stanford. Through IDEAL and our racial justice initiatives, we continue to take action to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. Stanford’s excellence is only possible through embracing diversity and ensuring that our community is welcoming and inclusive for all.


President Marc Tessier-Lavigne

Provost Persis Drell