Korematsu to speak at Commencement

Rights voice Karen Korematsu to speak at Commencement

March 7, 2019
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer

Karen Korematsu will be the 2019 Commencement Speaker on May 12 at Saint Michael’s College. (photo by Carlo de la Cruz)

Karen Korematsu, founder and executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute and daughter of the late Fred Korematsu, will be the Commencement speaker at Saint Michael’s College on May 12 at 10 a.m. in the Ross Sports Center.

Ms. Korematsu is a civil rights advocate, public speaker, and public educator whose civil liberties work is motivated by the experiences of her father in a World-War-II-era incarceration camp for Japanese Americans and his subsequent civil rights activism.

At its January meeting the Board of Trustees approved the choice of Ms. Korematsu as Commencement speaker and Honorary Degree recipient.

“We are deeply honored to have Karen Korematsu as our 2019 Commencement speaker,” said Saint Michael’s President Lorraine Sterritt. “Both the Fred T. Korematsu Institute and the Edmundite heritage of Saint Michael’s College embody the spirit of inclusiveness, human rights, and social justice.”

Since her father’s passing in 2005, Ms. Korematsu has carried on his legacy. She was instrumental in establishing in 2011 a perpetual “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution” for the State of California (January 30). He is the first Asian American in U.S. history to be honored with a statewide day. Hawaii, Virginia, Florida, and New York City have followed suit.

Ms. Korematsu shares her passion for social justice and education at K-12 public and private schools, colleges and universities, law schools, teachers’ conferences, and organizations across the country. Her work and her father’s legacy extend to advocating for civil liberties for all communities, and she addresses current issues that draw lessons from the past. She has signed on to amicus briefs in several cases opposing violations of constitutional rights arising after 9/11, including in Odah v. United States, Turkman v. Ashcroft, Hedges v. Obama, Hassan v. City of New York and Trump v. Hawaii. She authored the foreword to “Patriot Acts, Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustice” in 2011.

In 2013, she was appointed as an advisory member to the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning by the Honorable Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, California Supreme Court Chief Justice and Chair of the Judicial Council, and Tom Torlakson, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction. In 2015, she was invited as the first non-lawyer member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). She is a current board member for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC in Washington, D.C. She has won numerous civic, regional and national awards for her justice work and has been extensively interviewed in major media including by NPR, CBS, History Channel, major radio stations on the West Coast, and did a recorded interview for the Judicial Council of California Center for Judiciary Education and Research. She has spoken all over the U.S. including at major universities such as Harvard, Columbia, Brown, UC Berkeley, University of Michigan, and several other law schools. Her op-eds have appeared in the Washington Post and The New York Times.

In addition to being the 2019 Saint Michael’s Commencement speaker, she will be presented an Honorary Doctorate, as is customary.


Also receiving Honorary Doctorates from Saint Michael’s College at the May 12 Commencement will be William Gallagher, former chairman and longtime member of the Saint Michael’s Board of Trustees, and David LaMarche ’60, a member of the College’s business faculty for many years who served in administrative posts.

William Gallagher

Receiving an Honorary Doctorate at May’s Saint Michael’s 2019 Commencement will be William Gallagher, a former trustee and chair of the Board of Trustees and a long-time supporter of Saint Michael’s College. He is the co-founder and CEO of Atlantic Data Services, Inc., a financial services firm providing information technology strategy consulting and systems integration services, located in Quincy, MA. Clients have included Bank of America, CapitalOne, and Nations Bank.

Earlier in his career he was a senior vice president with Savings Management Computer Corporation in Boston. He served as a medical specialist in the U.S. Army at Kimborough Army Hospital in Maryland from 1968-69, and before that he was a programmer analyst for Home Savings Bank in Boston for five years.

His service with the Saint Michael’s Board of Trustees spanned more than a decade and included: Member 2003 – 2007, Vice-Chair 2008 – 2011 and Chair 2012 – 2015. He also was chair of the parents program at Saint Michael’s, hosted multiple College events and served on a number of career related panels for alumni. He is married to Penelope and has two daughters, one a 1999 Saint Michael’s graduate.

The honoree is also on the Board of Directors for both Lee Kennedy Company and Lanthorn Technology; he serves on the Catholic Schools Foundation for the Archdiocese of Boston (since 2001), is on the School Advisory Board for Holy Family School, Rockland (since 1991); has worked with the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) President’s Round Table since 1988 and with OXFAM American since 1985, along with other civic and volunteer activities, including his support for cancer research at Mass General Hospital.

His support for Saint Michael’s College has included substantial gifts for the John J. Neuhauser Fund for Innovation and Research; the Quad Dorm Connector Project; the Peace & Justice Fund; the Saint Michael’s Fund; and the vanderHeyden Endowment for Fine Arts.

David LaMarche

The third Honorary Degree to be presented at the May 2019 Saint Michael’s Commencement will be to David LaMarche ’60, a longtime business faculty member and administrator at the College, whose service and presence were recognized when an endowed Chair was named in his honor in 2008, made possible by alumnus and former member of the Board of Trustees Edmund Cashman ’58.

LaMarche was also the recipient of the Norbert Kuntz Award for service to the College on two occasions, most recently in 1994. He also received the Reiss Mission Award in 1998 and was inducted into the honorary societies Beta Gamma Sigma and Sigma Beta Delta He earned his MBA from Boston University and did post-graduate studies at NYU. He also served Saint Michael’s as interim vice president for academic affairs in the 1990s. Other roles for the College have included associate professor and department chair, vice president for planning, and assistant to the president. He served as Treasurer General for the Society of St. Edmund (1994-2008) and currently serve as Secretary and Board member for the Fathers of St. Edmund, Southern Missions (2008 to present).

Earlier in his career, LaMarche taught at Upsala College in New Jersey and was vice president and general manager for the Brattleboro Finance Corporation through much of the 1960s. He also won numerous other awards from Saint Michael’s during his long academic career, including the Colonel Donald Cook Citizenship Award (1986). He was involved in youth ministry for the Catholic Diocese; was a planning and school board member in his home of Essex Junction; was a member of Lyric Theatre, Inc. in Burlington; and has been a civic and community volunteer in many other capacities.

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