In 1965, Japanese educator Taizo Kaneko wrote to 50 colleges and universities throughout the United States, offering to send the eager young minds of his culture to live and learn with American students. Of the 35 responses he received, only one reply - from Willamette University's President G. Herbert Smith - constituted an unconditional and immediate acceptance of his offer. Out of the shared vision of these two men, a mutually enriching relationship was born.
After a quarter century of successful exchange programs between Tokyo International University and Willamette University, that visionary relationship was further strengthened and solidified by the establishment of Tokyo International University of America (TIUA) in 1989. Every year, about 100-150 students endeavor to acquire English communication skills and specialized knowledge through the program at Willamette. Students not only study English but also other subjects including sociology, politics, economics, intercultural management, literature, history, and many more.
WU and TIUA students study together in “joint” and “linked” courses. TIUA students can take selected WU courses (fall semester). Students are integrated in the residential system and in all aspects of co-curricular programming and activities. WU faculty members teach elective subject area courses during a six-week summer session and in Fall Semester.
The relationship between Willamette and TIU extends beyond the TIUA programs. Willamette students can take courses in Japanese language, culture, and society at TIU for one semester or one year during which they are placed in homestays in the Kawagoe area. Willamette faculty members can also teach or do research at TIU for 3-6 weeks from mid-May to mid-July and TIU faculty visit WU/TIUA, in the fall or spring semester to do research, offer guest lectures, or to teach WU courses.