U.S. transportation secretary named Berkeley’s 2001 alumnus of the year


Norman Mineta,’53, spent 20 years in Congress and served in two Cabinet posts.

16 January 2002 | The California Alumni Association has named U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, ’53, the 2001 Alumnus of the Year.

The alumni association cited Mineta’s distinguished service, first for California as U.S. congressman for 20 years, then for his country as a member of two presidential cabinets. As Secretary of Transportation for the current administration, it was Mineta who ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to ground all aircraft in American skies after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

Mineta spent his adult life breaking social barriers for Asian Americans. Uprooted from San Jose, Calif. during World War II, he was sent along with his family to a Japanese American internment camp in Wyoming. Afterward, he was one of a handful of Japanese American students at Berkeley in the late 40s and early 50s. He served on the class councils for each of his years here.

In 1967, Mineta was elected to the San Jose City Council and in the early 1970s he ran for mayor and won, becoming the first Asian American mayor of an American city. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1995, and then became the first Asian American member of a U.S. presidential cabinet, when President Clinton named him Secretary of Commerce. Mineta is currently the sole Democrat in President Bush’s cabinet.

Mineta’s distinguished congressional career included chairing the House Public Works and Transportation Committee from 1992 to 1994 and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, which he also co-founded. He was instrumental in passing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which apologized officially to the Japanese Americans who were interned in World War II and appropriated $20,000 in damages for each of them.

Mineta is featured on the cover of the Dec. 2001 issue of California Monthly, the alumni association’s magazine. The association will present the award at its Charter Banquet, March 15. Mineta will be the distinguished guest and speaker.


Home | Search | Archive | About | Contact | More News

Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.

Comments? E-mail