USC will recognize former students of Japanese decent deprived of their degrees because of Executive Order 9066, which permitted the creation of Japanese internment camps in the United States during World War II, at commencement in May.
USC previously recognized the importance of commemorating Nisei, American-educated children of first-generation Japanese immigrants in 2008 when the Asian Pacific Alumni Association awarded them honorary alumni status and they were recognized during a home football game, according to USC News.
The university will give Nisei students honorary degrees. There are fewer than 150 living Nisei alumni, and more than 20 of them plan to attend the ceremony.
“This is different than the typical person that would receive an honorary degree,” said Scott Mory, CEO of the Alumni Association. “These people are Trojans who were removed from their studies through no fault of their own because of an unjust and prejudiced law. This is not meant to create a precedent for future honorary degrees.”
Though the details of the process are still being discussed, the Nisei will be prominently featured during the commencement, Mory said.
The honoring of Nisei students exemplifies the way USC supports those who have attended the university, President C. L. Max Nikias said.
“Through the years these students have been among the most passionate and dedicated members of the Trojan Family,” Nikias told USC News. “We are honored that our Nisei students have an enduring devotion to USC, and we want them to know that the university is also devoted to them.”