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In memoriam: Ron Katsuyama, professor of psychology

By Lee Dixon

Ron Katsuyama, a human rights activist and professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology, died March 2. He was 76.

"Ron was a wonderful teacher and mentor for both undergraduate and graduate students," said Roger Reeb, professor of psychology and a close friend. "He had a unique combination of intellect, social consciousness and optimism, as well as compassion and empathy for others, especially for the vulnerable or disadvantaged."

Katsuyama joined the Department of Psychology in 1973 and served the University for 43 years before his retirement in 2017. His lengthy record of community activism stemmed from his family's experience in a Japanese internment camp in Idaho during World War II. Katsuyama was born in the camp and frequently shared his parents' stories to educate others about the impact of racism and discrimination.

At UD, he established an impressive record of teaching, thesis mentorship and service in the areas of racial attitudes and experiences, school prejudice reduction programs, school character education programs and attitudes toward diversity.

From 1995 to 2000, he served as director of the University's Social Science Research Center and Center for Family and Community Research. Among his numerous research projects were the 1996 and 1998 surveys of racial attitudes in the Dayton area. Katsuyama chaired a committee that helped develop the University's policy and procedures for responding to campus hate crimes and bias-related incidents.

Katsuyama was actively involved in efforts to help the Asian American community in Dayton and throughout Ohio. He co-founded and served as president of the Asian American Council, Dayton, Ohio, and was recognized by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission with certificates of recognition in 2002, 2003 and 2007 for outstanding leadership in the Asian American Community and recognition of commitment to civil and human rights for all Ohioans.

He also co-founded the Ohio Asian American Health Coalition in 2005 and served as chair for the next nine years. In that capacity, he secured grant funding to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable, underserved Asians throughout Ohio. The Ohio Commission on Minority Health presented him with its Community Service Award in 2008.

He was a longtime member and a past president of the Dayton chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League and held multiple regional and national offices in that organization.

"Before and after his retirement, Ron truly embodied UD's mission of learn, lead and serve," Reeb said. "Ron was a very kind, loyal and helpful friend, and I will deeply miss him."

Lee Dixon is associate professor and chair of the Department of Psychology.

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