Carnegie Mellon University
May 29, 2024

Celebrating the Retirement of Two Esteemed Faculty Members

By Karen Richters

Two distinguished faculty members of the Department of Languages, Cultures & Applied Linguistics, Yasufumi Iwasaki and Keiko Koda, whose remarkable contributions have significantly shaped the Japanese studies and second language acquisition programs, have announced their retirement. Their dedication and passion have left an indelible mark on the Carnegie Mellon University community and the field of language education.

Yasufumi Iwasaki

Since joining CMU in 2005, Yasufumi Iwasaki has been the driving force behind the Japanese studies program. His innovative approach to language curriculum has set a high standard for language education. Over the years, Iwasaki has classified learning activities into classroom activities, homework and projects, developing teaching materials that seamlessly integrated interpretive, interpersonal and presentational communicative modes. His commitment to transcultural and translingual competence has enriched the educational experience for countless students.

Known for his unwavering work ethic and good humor, Iwasaki has been a beloved teacher and a generous colleague. In recognition of this, he was awarded the 2014 Elliott Dunlap Smith Award for Distinguished Teaching and Educational Service at Carnegie Mellon University’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Reflecting on his career, Iwasaki’s colleagues admire his consistent willingness to help and his ever-present smile. 

Keiko Koda

Keiko KodaJoining CMU in 1995, Keiko Koda has established herself as a world leader in second language acquisition (SLA), particularly in second-language reading. Her research has profoundly advanced our understanding of second-language lexical processing and text comprehension. Koda's work highlights the critical role of first language literacy in shaping second language metalinguistic awareness and the intricate amalgamation of literacy experiences across languages.

Koda’s impressive scholarly output includes over a dozen books, special journal issues and more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Despite her extensive achievements, Koda remains humble, often shining the spotlight on her colleagues and students. Her impact as a mentor and a colleague is deeply felt across the academic community. This fall, our department will host a symposium in her honor, celebrating her invaluable contributions to the field of SLA.