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Asian Pacific Islander Caucus
Promoting & Empowering Asian & Pacific Islander Americans

  Bob Suzuki, NCORE 2005 (New York) keynote speaker API Caucus   


Steering Com

Bob Suzuki

We were privileged to have Dr. Bob Suzuki as NCORE 2005 (New York) keynote speaker. The title of his speech was "Embracing Diversity: An Imperative for Progress in a Democratic Society." Dr. Suzuki is President Emeritus of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (1991-2003).

Background Information

Dr. Bob Suzuki currently serves on the California Student Aid Commission, on the Boards of Directors of the Pasadena Bioscience Center and Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP) in Los Angeles, and on the Advisory Board of the Ahimsa Center at Cal Poly Pomona. He has also served as a member of the National Science Board, the Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and the Board of Trustees of the Japanese American National Museum.

Dr. Suzuki was born in Portland, Oregon to Japanese immigrant parents. During World War II, he was imprisoned with his family in an internment camp in Minidoka, Idaho, where he received his first three years of schooling. After the completion of his doctorate from California Institute of Technology, he taught for four and half years in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southern California. While teaching, he became deeply involved in civil rights and public and community affairs. Among numerous activities, he was one of the leaders of a successful nationwide campaign that led to the Congressional repeal of the Emergency Detention Act of 1950, and as chair of the National Education Commission of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), he was responsible for initiating action that led to the inclusion of Asian Americans in federally-mandated affirmative action programs. As a result of his deep involvement in these activities, he changed his professional field and devoted himself full-time to work that more directly addressed pressing societal problems.

Dr. Suzuki returned to academic administration when he assumed the position of Dean of Graduate Studies and Research at California State University, Los Angeles. After four and half years, he assumed the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs at California State University, Northridge. In July of 1991, Dr. Suzuki was selected as the fourth president of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. During his tenure as president, Dr. Suzuki transformed and improved the quality of many of Cal Poly’s academic programs and operations, and developed several innovative programs including the International Polytechnic High School, Agriscapes, and Innovation Village, among others. He was among the first scholars to debunk the "model minority" stereotype of Asian Americans when he published a seminal journal article on the subject in 1977.

Dr. Suzuki has been honored on numerous occasions for his contributions in the areas of community service, education, and human and civil rights. Most recently, on November 3, 2003, he was conferred the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon by the Japanese Government.