Hokkaido University salutes 125-year-old bonds
J. Fitzgibbons, Chronicle staff
he legacy of William S. Clark, a pioneering force in the development of both the University of Massachusetts and Hokkaido University, will be celebrated Oct. 9-10 as representatives of both schools mark 125 years of cooperation and exchange programs.
Both the Amherst and Sapporo campuses evidence many reminders of the longstanding ties. From the Clark Memorial Garden and the Hokkaido bear in the Student Union to the bust of Clark on the Hokkaido campus, the historical relationship is woven into campus traditions.
Along with the common roots of the two universities, which both began as agricultural colleges, next week's program will also highlight the exchanges of faculty, students and staff that began formally in 1958, according to Barbara B. Burn, associate provost for International Programs.
Burn says the longtime relationship sets UMass apart in the arena of international education.
"It's part of the mythology of UMass," she says. "It's been kind of a feather in our cap."
The modern ties began taking shape in the late 1950s and early 1960s when the U.S. State Department contracted with the University to help strengthen the agricultural curriculum at Hokkaido. Through that program, 11 UMass faculty went to Sapporo and 52 Japanese faculty and students received advanced training in Amherst.
In the 1960s, Hokkaido president Harusada Suginome established the Hokkaido Youth Overseas Training Program through which the prefectural government sent more than 100 young professionals to UMass every summer. Around the same time, the Hokkaido Women's Overseas Study Group began sponsoring visits by Japanese women leaders to Amherst and the University.
In 1969, professor John H. Foster, director of the Center for International Agricultural Studies, learned that the UMass-Hokkaido aid program was designated "the oldest technical assistance relationship between a U.S. university and a foreign university."
To help mark the anniversary of the historic relationship, Hokkaido University is dispatching two administrators to Amherst: Shoichi Fujita, vice president for international affairs and his predecessor, former vice president Fusao Tomita. Tadamichi Yamamoto, Japan's consul general in Boston, is also expected to participate.
The Hokkaido officials and Martha Merrill, a member of the Clark family and a visiting scholar at Indiana University, will be honored at a ceremony at the Clark Memorial Garden on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 3:30 p.m. The event will also recognize UMass recipients of honorary degrees from Hokkaido, including former presidents Robert Wood and David Knapp, former chancellor Randolph Bromery and retired faculty members John Maki, Mack Drake and Bill Mellen. Former chancellors David K. Scott and John Lederle, who were also honored by Hokkaido University, cannot attend, according to Burn.
On Oct. 9, Tomita and Fujita will lunch with interim Chancellor Marcellette G. Williams and pay their respects at the Clark gravesite in Amherst's West Cemetery. The two officials will also visit the Du Bois Library to view archival materials and attend a performance of the Tonda Traditional Puppet Theater.
The following morning, Tomita and Fujita will tour the College of Food and Natural Resources with dean Cleve Willis. At 11 a.m., they will sit in on a class on pre-modern and modern Japanese literature taught by Stephen Forrest of Asian Languages and Literatures.
Following the afternoon ceremony at the Clark Garden, the Hokkaido leaders will attend a seminar on Japanese garden design from 5-5:45 p.m. and participate in a panel discussion, "Arts in Small Places," in Bezanson Recital Hall at 6 p.m. Both events are part of a symposium, "Arts in Small Places: Japanese Garden Design," sponsored by "The Lively Arts," a General Education course, and Durfee Conservatory.
To help commemorate the UMass-Hokkaido anniversary, students from "The Lively Arts" this semester are working with guest artist Thomas Matsuda and Durfee Conservatory director John Tristan to design, create and install a miniature garden based upon Japanese design principles at the plant house.
An opening ceremony for "Arts in Small Spaces" will be held at Durfee on Wednesday, beginning at 7:45 p.m.
All events are free and open to the public.