Isao Fujimoto Receives UC’s Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award

Quick Summary

  • Founding faculty in community development, Asian American studies
  • Academic work continues unabated since his retirement in 1994
  • Active in Summer Abroad, and rural leadership, citizenship partnerships

Isao Fujimoto has earned the UC system’s Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award, which recognizes scholarly work or educational service since retirement by a UC emeritus or emerita in the humanities or social sciences.

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 Isao Fujimoto
Isao Fujimoto

Fujimoto joined the UC Davis faculty as a founding member of the community development program in 1967 and subsequently founded the Asian American studies program. He retired as a senior lecturer in 1994, but the Panunzio award committee noted that his academic work has continued “unabated.”

The committee cited three long-term endeavors among his many other achievements: his partnership with the Rural Development Leadership Network; his facilitation of the Central Valley Partnership for Citizenship; and his Summer Abroad course in Kyoto, Japan.

Oh, and don’t forget his other teaching: He has served as the primary instructor for 50 courses since retirement.

“Isao is one of our campus treasures who has inspired and challenged students and faculty alike for decades,” said Helene Dillard, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, home of the community development program.

“This recognition is a fitting tribute for his long years of service to UC Davis and the people of California, especially those often forgotten or left behind” — referring to his focus on rural development and improved education, standard of living and vocational tools.

He practiced community development at home, too. With the help of his students, he helped to incubate such cherished staples as the Davis Food Co-Op and the Davis Farmers Market, both which were originally run from his home.

James Grieshop, Cooperative Extension specialist emeritus, described his friend and colleague Fujimoto as a “model university academic” committed to students and community connections. See Grieshop’s interview with Fujimoto as part of the UC Davis Emeriti Association’s Video Record Project.

Fujimoto did his undergraduate work at UC Berkeley, graduating with a degree in biological sciences in 1955. He earned a master’s degree in education at Stanford in 1960 and a Ph.D. in development sociology at Cornell University in 2010.

He is one of two recipients of the Constantine Panunzio award this year, joining history professor Peter Kenez of UC Santa Cruz. Each receives a $5,000 prize.

The award program began in 1983, funded by a bequest from Panunzio, a longtime professor of sociology at UCLA, who, in retirement, pushed for improved pensions for emeriti and served as the first director of the newly established Academic Retirement Office.

Fujimoto is the first UC Davis emeritus to win the Panunzio award in 12 years. Previous recipients: Emma Werner, human and community development, 1999-2000; and Sarah Hrdy, anthropology, 2002-03.

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