Itagaki Receives 2014 Diversity Award

January 6, 2015
Photo of Lynn Itagaki

Originally published October 3, 2014

Congratulations to Professor Lynn Itagaki, who was recently awarded the 2014 Arts and Humanities Diversity Enhancement Award.

Itagaki has worked tirelessly for the Asian American Studies program, serving as a member of their advisory board and organizing a variety of events, for example, the Asian American Distinguished Lecturer in Spring 2013 and our own Kane Lecture featuring renowned Asian American Studies scholar Lisa Lowe in 2012. She has also been a guest speaker for several Asian American student groups and has worked hard and creatively to build enrollments in the Asian American Studies minor.

Itagaki helped to found and execute Asian Americans in the Heartland: A Community Mapping and Oral History Project that is part of the Digital Archives of Literacy Narratives organized by Cindy Selfe and Louie Ulman. Implemented through Comparative Studies 2321: Introduction to Asian American Studies, this initiative continues to address the dearth of research on Asian American populations and demographic growth in the Midwest.

“When you meet Lynn Itagaki,” said Professor Cindy Selfe, “it doesn't take long to realize that her commitment to diversity is deeply sedimented in all aspects of her life. She is particularly committed to individual students and community members whose voices may not always be heard, and she serves these communities with a glad heart and an open mind. She has encouraged Asian Americans at Ohio State to tell their stories, to document their lives, to share with others narratives about their families, their culture, their experiences as citizens. Encouraging other people to speak, to be heard, to witness—from their own unique perspectives, in their own words, with their own insights—is a gift that Lynn continues to contribute here at Ohio State, and it is fitting indeed that she has been identified as the recipient of the 2014 Arts and Humanities Diversity Enhancement Award.”

Itagaki has also expanded the departmental curriculum with her creatively designed classes, such as the Ethics of Ethnics: Comparative Racialization, Cultural Studies, and the Post-Racial Era; Multiracial Feminist Theory; and Representing Multiracial Feminisms. Itagaki also gives generously of her time by guest lecturing on some of her topics of expertise—Asian American literature, gender and sexuality studies, feminism, comparative race studies, and theories of intersectionality.

Toni Calbert, one of Itagaki’s graduate students, spoke fondly of Itagaki’s commitment to diversity. “[She] is an amazing teacher; her seminar on U.S. Ethnic Literature and Cultures introduced me to new ways of thinking about identity, difference, and the complexities of community in America. Dr. Itagaki is also someone who goes out of her way to offer thoughtful guidance, and always takes time to answer questions and listen to concerns whether or not they’re related to class.”

“There have been many occasions,” said Julia Istomina, another of Itagaki’s graduate students, “when I had an extremely productive brainstorming conversation with Lynn and forty minutes after our meeting, I had that major “aha!” moment that proceeded to shape my scholarship in a core manner. I only aspire to lead students in the same way in the future.”

These are only a few of Lynn Itagaki’s contributions and accomplishments that make her such a deserving recipient of the Arts and Humanities Diversity Enhancement award. On behalf of the faculty, students, and staff in the Department of English, we want to thank you, Professor Itagaki, for your continued commitment to diversity initiatives at Ohio State. We look forward to many great things still to come.

Lynn Itagaki will be honored for this award at the Arts & Sciences Faculty Recognition Reception to be held October 28, 2014 from 4:00-6:00PM at the Blackwell Inn.