San Francisco State University (SFSU) has received the second-largest private individual gift in its history, a $5 million dollar gift from alumna and Professor Emerita Kay Takeyama Dilena, to establish the Dilena Takeyama Center for the Study of Japan and Japanese Culture.
The Center will give a new prominence to the study of Japan at the university, and enhance cultural understanding between the United States and Japan. The gift will also support a rotating chair for a scholar of Japanese culture, a coordinator for the program, visiting Japanese scholars and student exchange programs.
“I was born and raised in Tokyo during the war and then I came to this country,” Dilena, who lives in San Francisco, said in a statement. “I got my education here and I feel like I owe both countries. I have always worked toward promotion of better U.S.-Japanese relations and I want to help future scholars in any way I can.”
Dilena lived in Tokyo through World War II. She met her future husband James G. Dilena, a native of Point Reyes in California, while working as a special interpreter with the engineering division of the U.S. Army in Japan. They married in 1955 after she followed her brother, a journalist, to New York.
Dilena’s brother, Yasuo Takeyama, survived the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and her husband survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This unique family history with World War II’s bookend events was the subject of the book “Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima,” written in Japanese and English by Dilena, her husband, brother and sister-in-law in 1989.
Dilena said she wished to honor her brother and husband with the gift.
“Yasuo Takeyama helped the U.S.-Japan Institute at SF State to raise funds and recruit Japanese management for special training programs at San Francisco State,” she said.
Dilena earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1970 and an MBA in 1973 from SFSU. She taught courses in business management, organizational behavior and international business at SFSU beginning in 1973 until she was appointed professor emeritus in 1988.
She recently donated movies and color slides of Tokyo in the early 1950s to the Edo-Tokyo Museum. The images, taken by her late husband, were the basis of the exhibit, “Tokyo Fukko,” held at the museum in Tokyo this year.
“This generous bequest will transform the understanding of Japanese culture on the campus,” Provost Sue Rosser said. “Internationally distinguished scholars will interact with faculty at SF State, enriching the courses and scholarship on Japanese culture for the benefit of our students and the community in the Bay Area.”