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SJSU Honors Judo Legend

Yosh Uchida

President Qayoumi surprises judo legend Yoshihiro Uchida with a medallion commemorating his 65 years of service to SJSU, with friend Jan Masuda Cougill and Provost Ellen Junn (Robert Bain photo).

SJSU’s Faculty Service and Recognition Awards Luncheon is always a moving event. The recipients of SJSU’s top four annual faculty honors speak, and many more lecturers and professors offer remarks after being recognized for 15 to 40 years of service. Their collective affirmations of San Jose State’s role as a teaching college are heartfelt, often eliciting shouts of joy and the occasional tear. For example, no one will forget Distinguished Service Award Recipient Brad Stone’s shout out to his wife for all her support.

Created at the SJSU Foundry, the medallion combines the SJSU and Olympic logos with the Japanese characters for judo (photo by Robert Bain).

But perhaps this year’s greatest moment came when everyone turned their attention to a very special guest who was too shy to take the stage. Yoshihiro Uchida — local boy, World War II veteran, alumnus, part-time instructor and the driving force behind judo’s rise to an Olympic sport — was honored for an astounding 65 years of service. This is a record not just for San Jose State but perhaps the entire California State University system, said President Qayoumi.

After the crowd watched a video summarizing Uchida’s career at SJSU, Qayoumi stepped off the stage to surprise Uchida, seated with family and friends, with a medallion custom-designed and poured at the SJSU Foundry. The piece pulls together his achievements, and complements the many Olympic medals won by his students over the years, including 2012 Olympian Marti Malloy.

As fit as ever but still unwilling to take the podium, Uchida asked Provost Ellen Junn to read his remarks:

 “Though I have seen many changes in my 65 years, from crewcuts to tattoos, I think the biggest change was the closing of San Carlos Street in the 1980s and the building of additional dorms. It beautified SJSU, unified the students and one had a unique sense of community that changed us from a commuter college into a university. Over the years, we have established ourselves as a top tier facility within the CSU system and have created a campus that is highly sought after, embraces diversity and graduates students that achieve their goals.”

Among the campus improvements underway right now is the $54.7 million renovation of Spartan Complex East and Yoshihiro Uchida Hall (known as Spartan Complex West until the building was named in his honor in 1997). Plans include a new home for Uchida’s judo program, positioning SJSU to dominate national and international competitions for many years to come.

Like everything Uchida has touched during his years as SJSU, the making of the medallion reflects a deep sense of community building and pride.

“The medallion represents four distinctly different categories of students and employees of SJSU, but embodies the teamwork, effort, and honor that all Spartans have for San Jose State University and the deep respect for the 65 years of service that we have received from Professor Yoshihiro Uchida,” said Ryan Carrington, spatial art faculty member.

Here’s more on the medallion, as told by Carrington.

“The Yoshihiro Uchida 65 Years of Service Medallion was the result of the culmination of the efforts of four San Jose State University Spartans. After a design meeting of the four members of the group, Wilson Chao, ’13 BFA-Spatial Art, was in charge of making the digital version and using the laser cutter on campus to cut the medallion out of acrylic.

“From there the medallion was passed onto Ryan Carrington, Spatial Art Faculty, ’11 MFA-Spatial Art, to create a mold for casting wax. SJSU Foundry Technician Steve Davis, ’11 MFA-Spatial Art, used the mold for making both versions of the medallion in wax.  He and Yvonne Escalante, ’13 MFA-Spatial Art, encased them in plaster to begin the lost-wax process of metal casting.

“After the wax was evacuated from the mold, bronze was poured into the negative space. When cool, the metal was cleaned up, chased, and patina was applied. Yvonne was then charged with fabricating a jump ring and ribbon to finish this collaborative project.