Philosophy Department professor Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor was among four who were honored by the Fresno County Office of Education (FCOE) Foundation for a lifetime of educational contributions. The 2018 FCOE Honors Gala was held on September 15, 2018, at the Fresno City College Old Administration Building.
“Dr. Kapoor’s legacy of nonviolence reflects principles at the core of our academic vision. His approach to dialogue has bridged communities, and made us aware of the strength inherent in our diversity,” said Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.
Recently, Dr. Kapoor wrote an editorial for the Fresno Bee titled, “Honoring Mahatma Gandhi as 150th birth anniversary nears” which recounts the life of “the great spiritual, social and political leader of India” and his effect on other notable leaders of the 20th century.
“Gandhi influenced and inspired many world leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Cesar E. Chavez, Lech Walesa, Aung San Su Kyi, President Barack Obama and others who carried their struggles based on the philosophy of nonviolence,” Kapoor states in the article.
In looking at the life and accomplishments of Kapoor, it becomes clear that Gandhi is also his principal influence.
Born in Panjab, India, Kapoor came to the United States in 1963. In 1967 he began serving as professor of Social Work, Community Development, and later founded the Peace and Conflict Studies Program which is now housed in the Philosophy Department at Fresno State.
Kapoor established a permanent legacy by developing the Peace Garden near the Henry Madden Library at Fresno State. The garden began in 1990 when a memorial for Mahatma Gandhi was dedicated. In 1996, a life-size monument to Cesar E. Chavez was added, followed by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1998, and Jane Addams in 2006. In 2008, the Peace Garden was renovated and rededicated on Earth Day in 2009.
“The Peace Garden is a remarkable place. Situated in the heart of our campus it reminds us of the power of nonviolence. I don’t think there is anything like this on any other university campus. Its very existence demonstrates our university’s commitment to nonviolence and peace,” said Andrew Fiala, Ph.D., Director of the Ethics Center.
A plaque in the garden highlights his efforts saying, “Professor Emeritus Sudarshan Kapoor was instrumental in the founding and growth of the Peace Garden.”
Kapoor has served on several boards and commissions locally and nationally. He served for 12 years (including four years as chair) as a member of the City of Fresno’s Human Relations Commission to which he was first appointed in 1992 by then-Mayor Karen Humphrey. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Fresno Center for Nonviolence and has served on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Committee City of Fresno since its inception in 1984.
In addition, he co-chaired Consortium on Peace Research, Education and Development (now Peace and Justice Studies Association) and served as Co-Executive Editor of “Peace and Change” a noted Journal of Peace Research in the United States. He also served on the Board of International Peace Research Association and on the board of International Peace Research Foundation.
“Dr. Kapoor reminds us that sustained and strategic nonviolent effort can make a positive change in the world. He’s both gentle and tenacious. And this makes him very effective at getting things done on campus and in the community,” said Fiala.
In 1997, Kapoor was recognized by Fresno Bee as one of the 75 most influential persons within the Valley during Bee’s 75th Anniversary. He has received several legislative and congressional citations in recognition of his work at Fresno State and in the community.
For more information on the FCOE Honors Gala, click here