Alumni Profiles

The core mission of the IUC is to train advanced students of Japanese language with career goals tied to Japan. IUC alumni have been widely recognized for their contributions to deepening the international understanding of Japan, including fourteen recipients of the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun awarded by the Japanese government. Our alumni play leadership roles in all professional endeavors focused on Japan, including academia, business, government service, law, journalism, and translation. Many alumni have told us that it was the year they spent at the IUC that enabled our alumni to reach the highest levels of achievement in their respective fields. Learn more about our alumni below.

IUC Alumni Testimonials

Andrew Gordon ’74
Former Director, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies
Harvard University

“I was fortunate to attend the Inter-University Center in 1973-4, between junior and senior years of college; that year was a decisive experience in preparing me for my subsequent career as a historian of Japan. One indication of the value of the Center to our university is that seven current faculty members at Harvard attended the IUC. That represents nearly half of our complement of faculty in all fields of Japanese studies. For academics and those in other professions, only the sort of intensive study offered by the IUC makes possible the level of fluency that allows a deep understanding of Japan and sustained engagement with colleagues in Japan.”

Douglas Lorentz ’76
Former Regional Vice President
Western Union North Asia

“In my time in Asia….the best foreign speakers of Japanese that I have come across are Center graduates. Not only are they the best speakers, but they are also, by extension, the most listened to and hence have the greatest impact on Japan-American relations through all aspects of business, social and academic endeavors. As I meet younger graduates, it is extremely gratifying to know that the Center continues to maintain the highest standards and turns out graduates who are listened to by Japanese and who continue to make a positive difference across many fields.”

David Sneider ’78
Partner and Head of Tokyo Office
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

“In the field of law, IUC has trained many prominent practitioners and continues to be a mecca for students seeking to reach the highest level of proficiency. Six current and former associates of my law firm have attended the IUC, a number of them with my personal encouragement. I know that if a student has graduated from the IUC, I can be confident that he or she will have the requisite language skills to be successful in our practice.”

Lefteris Kafatos ’02
Diplomatic Interpreter
U.S. Department of State

“After living and working in Japan for three years, I decided to pursue a career in translation and interpretation. However, before I could do that, I knew I needed intensive study in an immersive environment. I had heard about the Inter-University Center from alumni friends who went on to work in fields requiring a high degree of linguistic competence. Upon entering IUC, I was immediately impressed with the attentiveness of the professors and the thoroughness of the curriculum. Each day we delved deeper into the Japanese language via studies of culture, literature, the economy, social and political issues, and so much more. I later went on to work as an interpreter and have found myself often reviewing and reusing the materials we used at IUC almost 20 years ago. Studying at the Center was a crucial step in my professional development and to my career as an interpreter."

“Order of the Rising Sun”

Twenty IUC graduates have received honorary recognition from Japan and awarded the Order of the Rising Sun.

  • Gold and Silver Star: Gerald Curtis (IUC ’65)
  • Gold and Silver Star: Richard Samuels (IUC ’78)
  • Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon: Theodore Bestor (IUC ’75)
  • Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon: Kent Calder (IUC ’75)
  • Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon: John Campbell (IUC ’66)
  • Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon: Andrew Gordon (IUC ’74)
  • Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon: Ellis Kraus (IUC ’69)
  • Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon: Fred Notehelfer (IUC ’65)
  • Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon: Daniel Okimoto (IUC ’63)
  • Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon: Susan Pharr (IUC ’71)
  • Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon: Kenneth B. Pyle (IUC ’61)
  • Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon: Emily Sano (IUC ’64)
  • Gold Rays with Rosette: Bruce Brenn (IUC ’63)
  • Gold Rays with Rosette: Timothy Thorburn Clark (IUC ’85)
  • Gold Rays with Rosette: Louise Allison Cort (IUC ’68)
  • Gold Rays with Rosette: David W. Hughes (IUC’70)
  • Gold Rays with Rosette: Jacob Kovalio (IUC ’74)
  • Gold Rays with Rosette: Phylis Lyons (IUC ’68)
  • Gold Rays with Rosette: Susan Jun Onuma (IUC ’78)
  • Silver Rays: Catherine Marie Jonak (IUC ’84)

IUC Alumni Bibliography

IUC has compiled a partial list of books authored by IUC Alumni (PDF). This information is very useful whenever IUC makes a funding request, applies for grant funds, or speaks with benefactors about our very talented and productive alumns.

This list is a work in progress and Joan Winstein (IUC ’72) and Jim Wagner (’71) have volunteered to work toward compiling a more complete list. If you would like to assist with this project, please email Joan at More volunteers would ensure a more complete bibliography!

For additions or corrections to the bibliography, please email

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