Open Letter To USC President C.L. Max Nikias Regarding Honorary Degrees To Japanese American Students Forced To Leave Campus During WWII

The following is an open letter to C.L. Max Nikias, President of the University of Southern California. It is published here with permission of the author.

C.L. Max Nikias
Office of the President
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089-4019

Dear President Nikias:

I’m writing as the great granddaughter of USC’s first dean of the College of Liberal Studies, Rev. W.S. Matthew, D.D. He also acted as USC President for a brief time during the 1880s, and raised funds for the fledgling university.

Reverend Dr. Matthew’s oldest child, my great aunt, Margaret Matthew D’Ille Gleason, served as Manzanar’s Social Welfare Director, 1942-1945. Fluent in Japanese from work as YWCA secretary in Japan, 1908-1918, she loved and respected Japanese people and culture.

I’m now grandmother to two babies in Alameda who are Gosei, fifth generation Japanese Americans. They will learn who supported the Japanese Americans during the dark days of World War II, and after.

USC must now act morally and ethically to atone for injustices done to Nisei students during World War II and their decedents.

  • Invite family members to receive honorary degrees for deserving former students who are deceased.
  • Officially apologize for USC’s racist policy of refusing to release official transcripts for Nisei students during World War II.

These are the right actions honoring my family, and those of all Nisei students during World War II. I hope you will heed our cries for justice and do what should have been done long ago.

Susanne Norton La Faver, MPA
Adjunct Professor
Golden Gate University

The views expressed in this letter are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of the Manzanar Committee.

LEAD PHOTO: Susanne Norton La Faver. Photo courtesy Susanne Norton La Faver.

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