Ethnic Studies Anniversary : Celebrating 50 Years of Our History Our Way

Dean Alegado

Dean T. Alegado passed away in Kāneʻohe on November 6, 2020. A founding member of Ethnic Studies, from the early struggles to create the program through to the formation of the  department which he led to national prominence as chair, we can learn much about UHM Ethnic Studies through Dean's life. Born in San Narciso, Zambales in the Philippines, he grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from UC Berkeley. He received his Master’s degree from the Goddard College and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa. Dean was a Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa and retired in 2007 after serving as Chair of the department. Active in the Filipino community, Dean was a key community leader in the anti-Marcos movement in Hawaiʻi and later served as statewide chair of the Philippine Centennial Committee of Hawaiʻi in 2006. His friends, family, colleagues, and community say farewell on ES's show, Island Connections. The University honored Dean with a lovely memorial.  

In the words of our chair, Ty Tengan, 

I could think of no better way of celebrating the fiftieth annversary of Ethnic Studies than by honoring the life of a scholar activist who fought for the empowerment of oppressed peoples in Hawai‘i, the Philippines, and across Oceania to know and to tell our history, our way.  Dean Alegado's academic work on transnationalism and race/ethnic relations was always grounded scholarship in community work. He was one of the foremost university representatives in the local Filipino community and was universally respected.  In addition to being a former chair and professor in our ES department, he was also a former director of the UHM Center for Philippine Studies.  I was asked to speak on behalf of ES as the current chair, an invitation I am honored and humbled by.  This is our department’s 50th anniversary, and we would not be in the position of strength that we are in now were it not for Dean’s labors and leadership.  Indeed, even as he was undergoing medical treatment here in the last months of his life, he took to the time to dictate a testimony for the Board of Regents (which his daughter Rosie typed out) when ES was being targeted for restructuring along with many humanities programs (including Philippine Language and Culture) due to UH’s budget shortfall as a result of the State and the University's response to the pandemic.  

One way of honoring Dean's legacy is to contribute to either of two funds.  First is the Dean Alegado Student Fund  fund, which honors his life as a scholar-activist who fought for the empowerment of oppressed peoples in Hawai‘i, the Philippines, and across Oceania to know and to tell our history, our way. This fund supports students engaged in social justice work to transform our communities as Dean did. Alternatively, a contribution to the Ethnic Studies Enrichment Fund in Dean's memory.  This fund gives the UH Manoa ethnic studies program the resources it needs to make the most of opportunities that arise without using resources budgeted for other purposes.

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