San Jose, CA – The San Jose State University community will gather for the re-dedication of Yoshihiro Uchida Hall from 3-5 p.m. Nov. 7 outside the building’s main entrance. The celebration will honor the 94-year-old judo coach and alumnus for whom the building was renamed in 1997. This event is free and open to the public.
YUH reopened in August for the start of the fall 2014 semester after a year-long renovation. The $54.7 million bond-financed project also includes a renovation of Spartan Complex that began during summer 2014.
The newly renovated space in YUH is shared by the College of Applied Sciences and Arts and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, two of the units hosting the re-dedication ceremony with the Office of the President, University Advancement and the Department of Kinesiology.
The newly renovated space has a refurbished mat room that will be used by SJSU Judo, which has a history of training Olympic athletes. The space will be shared with other kinesiology courses that use floor mats, such as yoga. In addition, the building has an auditorium that is already being used for several large classes this fall. On the second floor, the roof of the amphitheater has been designed as a terrace garden that looks out toward Tower Lawn.
Other features and amenities include an updated weight training classroom, an exercise physiology research lab, a stress management lab and classroom, and an updated instructional gymnasium. Office space is being used jointly by kinesiology faculty and staff members, along with the athletics department.
Alumnus, business leader, judo enthusiast
Yoshihiro Uchida, ’47 Biological Sciences, has had a long history with San Jose State University, starting when he enrolled in 1940 as a chemical engineering student. While enrolled, he competed on the wrestling team and coached police students in judo, a sport he started as a 10-year-old in Garden Grove to connect to his family’s Japanese culture.
Uchida left the campus for four years, when he was drafted into the U.S. military during World War II while his family members were incarcerated in internment camps in Poston and Tule Lake. The former men’s gymnasium in the then-Spartan Complex West building was used as a registration center for Santa Clara County Japanese Americans before they were sent to internment camps during World War II. As part of the re-dedication, a plaque will be placed outside the gymnasium to denote its historic significance.
When Uchida returned to campus after World War II, he re-enrolled at SJSU and graduated with a degree in biological sciences in 1947. He continued to teach judo and was instrumental in creating a judo program on campus as well as bringing the sport to national and international attention. Uchida helped to establish a weight class system for judo that allowed it to be practiced by anyone, providing a framework for the sport’s expansion throughout collegiate circles. He also worked to establish judo as a sport in the Amateur Athletic Union.
The first National AAU championships were hosted by San José State in 1953. Uchida was the tournament director. On an international level, he was able to qualify judo as an Olympic event and was the first Olympic judo coach for the United States, which resulted in his traveling to the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. In 2012, he attended his 10th summer Olympics in London to watch SJSU’s Marti Malloy take the bronze.
In addition to his efforts on campus and with judo, Uchida has contributed to the greater community. He founded the Japanese American Chamber of Silicon Valley in 1996 and serves as chairman of its advisory board. He was also founder of the National Collegiate Judo Association; board member for the U.S. Olympic Committee (1996-2000); president of Uchida Enterprises, Inc.; chairman emeritus of the Board of Trustees of the Japanese American National Museum in Southern California; board member for the San Jose Chamber of Commerce’s San Jose Metro Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee; and president emeritus of United States Judo Inc.
In 1997, SJSU renamed Spartan Complex West as Yoshihiro Uchida Hall in honor of Uchida’s many years of service to the university and to the community. Uchida received the SJSU Tower Award in 1992. He was inducted into the SJSU Hall of Fame in 1999 and into the SJSU “Legends Hall of Fame” in 2012, to name a few of the honors and awards bestowed on him through the years.
San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.