Fred Piegonski, Executive Assistant to the President  
               Los Angeles City College, 855 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029 
                           (323) 953-4000  ext. 2243                            

                      For Immediate Release:  December 20, 2006

A Garden Named for an Administrator

Photo: Dorothy Hata

Photo: Dorothy Hata Garden Plaque Photo:  Dorothy Hata Garden Pagoda

Dorothy Hata seated in the spot that would become her garden. (Photo by F. Piegonski)   Plaque and Pagoda in Hata Garden  (C. Ake)

LACC Remembers Long-Time Administrator Who Died 20 Years Ago

In the center of Los Angeles City College’s quad stands a pagoda and near it, hidden under some shrubbery, is a plaque. This is the story of that pagoda and that plaque, for they are memorials to a college administrator who died 20 years ago in service to the college.

Soon LACC will recognize that 20-year anniversary of the death of that individual, long-time college administrator Dorothy Hata, who died in her sleep on Feb. 7, 1987. She was 60 and passed away at her home in Glendale. Ms. Hata, as she was called by all, was best known for her no-nonsense approach in performing her duties as the vice president of administrative services.

Her office staff was concerned when Ms. Hata did not turn up for work on that fateful Monday morning, as she was usually very punctual. She’d come to the office every day at 10 after eight and she’d call if she were delayed. As 9 a.m. approached and no word came from her (and as Ms. Hata lived alone), two administrators went to her home to check on her. They found the police there, and they learned that Ms. Hata had died of a heart attack that Saturday.

“I was really shocked and saddened to hear of the news,” recalled an employee who used to work in her office and who still vividly remembers that day. “On the previous Friday, Ms. Hata had gone out to buy some ice cream and we had an impromptu office party. And the night before that, she had gone to see a play with friends from the campus.”

Since 1968 Ms. Hata had held a number of administrative posts in admissions, instruction, and student services before being appointed as vice president of administrative services.

She was an outstanding administrator, said Louis Hilleary, acting LACC president at that time. “She had the responsibility to deal with plant and maintenance during a time when the budget was being diminished,” he said.

Ms. Hata was born on Sept. 30, 1926, in Los Angeles and grew up around Hollywood.

During World War II, Ms. Hata was interned at a detention camp when Japanese-Americans were suspected of being a threat to national security. In the ‘50s, Ms. Hata was a student at the former LA Community College District Metropolitan College, where she received her associate of arts degrees.

She received her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Cal State LA and worked in all levels of education in the LA Community College District.

Her first position was as a clerk typist for the Admissions Office of Metropolitan College. Prior to coming to LACC, Ms. Hata was the coordinator of registration at LA Trade Technical College and a counselor and instructor at Metropolitan College. She was also a teacher at Los Angeles High School.

Outside of her work in education, Ms. Hata was a member of the Asian Pacific Organization and belonged to several women’s groups.

“She was probably one of the best people I had the pleasure of working with,” said Gary Stakan, then dean of administration at the college. “For me no one could have asked for a better boss than Dorothy Hata. She was very fair and very honest and you always knew where you stood with her. She was a very special person,” he said.

Ms. Hata’s funeral took place at Forest Lawn in Glendale. Ms. Hata, who never married, was survived by her three brothers and a sister, who resided in Los Angeles.

Photo: Dorothy Hata Garden

The Dorothy Hata Garden  (photo: C. Ake)

A memorial garden was established for her on the LACC quad, between the library and theatre building, and dedicated Nov. 17, 1987. On hand for the event were her brothers and her sister who provided funds for the setting up of the garden.

The garden features a Japanese pagoda sculpture and a metal plaque which reads: “The Dorothy Hata Garden. A gift from her family and friends in memory of her contribution as an administrator at Los Angeles City College from 1969 to 1987.”

(Thanks to LACC Collegian.)


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