Nadine Ishitani Hata
El Camino College
“The network of community colleges that span the nation is a uniquely American phenomenon, reflecting the noble notion that access to educational opportunities is at the heart and core of a truly participatory democracy. More than any other dimension of American higher education, two-year colleges serve the diverse educational needs of their communities. Community college teaching provides opportunities to respond to individual student needs and the needs of the community at large to ensure that we produce competent, confident, and compassionate citizens who will not merely survive but soar.”
Nadine Hata has been teaching college-level history since 1967. She presently teaches at El Camino College, one of the hundreds of community colleges in which the majority of American students pursue their educational goals beyond secondary school. Born in Honolulu during World War II, and a fourth-generation Japanese American undergraduate student at the University of Hawaii, she was struck by how completely textbooks and classroom instruction in the 1960s focused on U.S. history as the story of European Americans living east of the Mississippi River. As an undergraduate she majored in history, and also received honors in Asian studies; when she enrolled for an M.A. degree at the University of Michigan, she sought a degree in Japanese and Far Eastern studies. She received a scholarship to do further research in Japan, and eventually earned a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California while teaching in the California State University system, first at Long Beach, then at Dominguez Hills. She has taught since 1980 at El Camino College. With her husband, also an academic historian, she has published numerous articles that explore more fully the diversity of American immigration patterns and the experiences of Asian peoples in the western United States.
Hata has been among the leaders of those who teach in community and two-year colleges who have insisted that the historical profession must include in the concerns and organizational structure of its professional associations recognition of the importance of the teaching mission of community colleges. She has served on numerous professional committees representing the interests of community college teachers, and recently edited Community College Historians in the United States for the OAH.