A look back at East-West Center’s milestones

May 14, 1960:

Lyndon Johnson and John. A Burns’ vision of linking the west to the east is brought to life. The East-West Center is established by an act of Congress.

Photos: Courtesy East-West Center



May 9, 1961:

It’s official! EWC founders, Johnson and Burns participate in the center’s groundbreaking ceremony. The first buildings were designed by Chinese-born architectural star I.M Pei.






Japan’s Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko bless the Center’s signature Japanese garden at Jefferson Hall with a traditional release of koi into the garden stream. PHOTO




The first trans-Pacific exchange program for professional journalists takes place through Jefferson Fellowships signaling the beginning of U.S. and Asian relations.


The East-West Center sponsors and help builds the Hokulea with the Polynesian Voyaging Society.



S. Ann Dunham, mother of President Barack Obama, joins the East-West Center’s Technology and Development Institute as a graduate degree fellow in anthropology. Obama’s stepfather, Lolo Soetoro also pursued his graduate degree from the University of Hawaii while on an East-West Center scholarship.






An independent, international Board of Governors is created through an East-West Center charter.








The East-West Center creates the Hawaii International Film Festival as a Center project.




Zhao Ziyang, first premier of the People’s Republic of China, visits the East-West Center, delivering his first U.S. public address.



For the first time, a U.S. president has a joint meeting with the heads of government in the Pacific Islands. President George H.W. Bush holds a United States-Pacific Islands Summit at the East-West Center.




The East-West Center opens an art gallery to promote community outreach through culture and the arts. PHOTO



The East-West Center becomes the first institution in the U.S. to raise funds to assist victims of a devastating Asian tsunami. A tsunami relief fund with more than $500,000 is established.






Jan. 12, 2010:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a major Asia Pacific policy address at the East-West Center on the importance of increased collaboration in the region.



The East-West Center celebrates its 50th anniversary.