In Memoriam: Chancellor Toyoshi Satow

I am deeply saddened to inform the Oberlin Shansi community that J.F. Oberlin University (formerly Obirin Gakuen) Chancellor Toyoshi Satow passed away on October 18, 2020. Chancellor Satow was a mentor, guide, and inspiration to generations of Shansi Fellows at J.F. Oberlin University, and a leader of higher education innovation in Japan throughout his career. He was dedicated to globalizing education and served as past president and chair of the board of the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP) while leading J.F. Oberlin University to become a leader in international educational exchange programs.


For Oberlin Shansi and Oberlin College, the enduring partnership with J.F. Oberlin University has been embodied in the Shansi Reps and Fellows who have each spent two years living and working on the university campus. Since 1980, more than 50 Oberlin alumni have served as Shansi Fellows at J.F. Oberlin University. John D. Elder ’53 was one of the first Shansi Reps to the school then called Obirin from 1953 to 1956, and he had many occasions to meet Chancellor Satow over the years. He recalled that Chancellor Satow had “such warmth of personality, we immediately felt comfortable in his presence, and we felt he was carrying on exceedingly well the spirit of the Obirin we knew in its early years.”


I was honored to get to know Chancellor Satow and learn from him about the shared history of Obirin and Oberlin Shansi. We met many times in Machida on the J.F. Oberlin University campus, and in November, 2019 I was honored to welcome him and a delegation including current J.F. Oberlin University President Henri Hatayama to the Oberlin College campus. We met with Oberlin College President Carmen Twillie Ambar and toured the amazing Allen Memorial Art Museum with Joan L. Danforth Curator of Asian Art Kevin Greenwood. Chancellor Satow was particularly taken with the AMAM’s wonderful collection of 19th century Japanese prints. That evening, Chancellor Satow and the delegation dined with John and Anne Elder, along with other friends from Kendal at Oberlin, the Oberlin College faculty, and the Shansi Board of Trustees. I know all of them join me in expressing our sadness about the news he has passed away, along with our gratitude that we had a chance to meet with him here in Oberlin last Fall.


Gavin Tritt

Executive Director

Oberlin Shansi

J.F. Oberlin University Chancellor Toyoshi Satow and President Henri Hatayama

with others at Oberlin College’s Allen Memorial Art Museum



J.F. Oberlin University Chancellor Toyoshi Satow (R) with (from right) Oberlin College President Carmen Twillie Ambar, J.F. Oberlin University President Henri Hatayama, and Oberlin Shansi Executive Director Gavin Tritt

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