Alumni Profiles     

Dr. Yuzuru J. Takeshita, '51
 Distinguished Alumnus, 2000

Yuzuru J. Takeshita is a 1951 alumnus with a degree from Park College in sociology. His further schooling led him to earn a master’s and doctorate in sociology from the University of Michigan. He retired as a professor of health behavior and health education from the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan in 1997. He was named professor emeritus upon his retirement.

  After earning his advanced degrees, Takeshita served on the faculty at the University of California at Los Angeles and as associate director of the Taiwan Population Studies Center before joining the University of Michigan faculty. His retirement citation from the University of Michigan noted, “He has contributed to the improvement of evaluation research methodology in developing countries and to the utilization of behavior science perspectives in the study of family planning in China, Korea, Japan and elsewhere.”

  Takeshita came to Park a few years after graduating high school in a California war relocation center in 1945 and serving in the U.S. Army. “It has taken a lifetime for me to come to terms with that ugly episode (referring to the Japanese-American internment) in our nation’s history. My effort started in my sophomore year at Park College (1949) when I was urged by my sociology professor to talk about my internment experience at a luncheon meeting of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. My protestation that the Japanese-American internment was inconsistent with our Constitution was met with rebuke from the audience. I could not handle the situation then and I clammed up for nearly 30 years before I spoke about it in public again. I wish I knew then about the “WWII Battle of Parkville.” I learned for the first time that Park College had gone out of its way, in spite of strong community opposition, to bring nine Japanese Americans from out of the internment camps so they could continue their education. This little known episode has made me doubly proud of my alma mater,” Takeshita said.

  Takeshita is widely published as an author/scholar in the fields of public health, family planning and the Japanese-American internment. While continuing to stay in touch with research in these fields, he currently directs with his wife a very successful math and reading program for children in Ann Arbor, Mich.