One of the newer offices on campus is the Center for Japanese Studies located in 311 East Hall. The Center sponsors many programs that foster connections between PSU and the community. These include Japanese-American studies, a mentoring and internship program, residencies and symposia, and other cultural programs. Dr. Ken Ruoff, director of the Center and history professor, began working at PSU a few years ago. The Center is his newly born brainchild. He saw the need for more Japanese “energy” on the PSU campus, and pushed for the “birth” of the Center.
The main focus of energy and funding of the Center go toward an annual lecture series. Dr. Patricia Wetzel, professor of Japanese and director o the Institute for Asian Studies, said, “The keystone of the Center is a three-lecture series.” Last year, the speakers were Dr. Peter Duus, Dr. H. Paul Varley, and Dr. Donald Keene, all internationally known for their studies of Japan.
This year, the first lecture will be held on October 25th.
The speaker will be Dr. Carol Gluck. Wetzel described Gluck as “the foremost Japanese historian in
America today.” Her topic will be “Past Obsessions: War and Memory in the Twentieth Century”.
The lecture will go from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in 338 Smith Memorial Center. Gluck is a George Sansom professor of Japanese History at Columbia University.
The second lecture is scheduled for February. The topic will be the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II. This will be the 60th anniversary of the executive order that led to their internment. The third lecture is scheduled for the spring.
Ruoff has diligently sought out the funding for the lectures and other programs of the Center. He has raised over $100,000 annually so far (last year and this year coming) for the activities of the center. Wetzel said, “The consulate helps a lot financially.”
Wetzel explained the role of the Institute for Asian Studies in relation to the new Center for Japanese studies. The Institute is an umbrella for International Studies – Asia focus, as well as all other Asian initiatives on campus. The Institute is hosting its own lecture on November eighth. The speaker will be William Wong, and he will be part of the diversity lecture series. As part of the Institute “umbrella” Wetzel emphasized the importance of the new Center, explaining that it let the community know what kind of serious resources are available of this nature at PSU. She said that it aids in the “internationalization” that, as president of PSU, is one of President Bernstine’s goals for PSU.
The Center only has one “official” office hour, Monday from 10 to 11 a.m. However, the two graduate research assistants who handle the office, Mary Parker and Maiko Kaneko, are there at other times as well.
Their phone number is 503-725-7592 if you have any other questions concerning the Center.