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History of Philanthropy at Lehman College

Tatsuo Tanaka

Mr. Tatsuo Tanaka, the largest single contributor in the history of Lehman College, was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters at "Building a Just and Sustainable Peace: A Global Conference in Hiroshima, Japan" on September 1, 2006. Following is the citation that accompanied the degree:

Mr. Tatsuo Tanaka
Doctor of Humane Letters

Tatsuo Tanaka is a prominent Japanese industrialist who became inspired to advance international understanding and educational exchange. Recognizing the importance of English language proficiency and international exposure for Japanese students, Mr. Tanaka decided to establish an American university in Chiyoda-cho, Hiroshima Prefecture. His goal was to transform Japanese-born students into true citizens of the world. The result of his vision was Lehman College at CUNY Hiroshima. Here, the students of his native land and those of The City University of New York became joint benefactors of his vision and benevolence.

Mr. Tanaka, who is currently the chairman of Anzen Kogyo Co., Ltd., designed, built and was the sole sponsor for Lehman College at CUNY Hiroshima, which operated successfully from 1990 to 1994 when economic conditions forced its closing. Combining the skills that made him a successful entrepreneur with an extraordinary commitment to cross cultural learning, Mr. Tanaka established the campus not only for Japanese students, including his son, but also for their New York City counterparts, whose travel and living expenses were funded with his generosity. Every effort was made by the college and surrounding community to transform students into true internationalists in outlook and action. For example, the local supermarket added signs in English on most of the shelves, and Japanese staff and American students helped local restaurants translate their menus into English to accommodate English-speaking visitors to the campus. Japanese students, in turn, came to Lehman to complete their studies. One student who began her education at Lehman’s Hiroshima campus is now a full-time faculty member at Lehman College—an outstanding achievement.

This initiative created by Mr. Tanaka, while comparatively brief, continues to live on today in the ongoing connection between Lehman and the City of Hiroshima, as evidenced by this global peace conference; in ongoing friendships between the alumni of our two countries; and in the research interests of the faculty who visited and taught at the campus. To date, Mr. Tanaka’s financial contribution to Lehman College remains the single largest donation in the College’s history.

For exemplifying, through his life and actions, the ideals of a true humanitarian; for setting a remarkable example of enlightened leadership open to new ideas, approaches and possibilities; and for enriching our world with his dedication to the transforming power of education, Lehman College of The City University of New York is pleased to bestow on Mr. Tatsuo Tanaka the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

  • Projected Goal:
    $40 Million
  • Total Philanthropic Support Raised through June 2009 in Cash and Pledges:
    $27,783,182