This story was originally published on Oct. 20, 2014, in Talk Business & Politics
BY ROBY BROCK
Dr. Bill Tsutsui grew up in Bryan, Texas, but as a citizen of Japanese-American descent, he was intrigued as a kid by Godzilla monster movies.
“I grew up with Godzilla like so many people did,” he laughs. “I can still remember watching my first Godzilla movie when I was 8 or 9 years old lying on the shag carpet in my parents’ bedroom,” the 51-year old new President of Hendrix College said.
He says the movies and culture surrounding them “helped form a sense of identity” for a youngster growing up halfway between Austin and Houston.
Tsutsui appeared on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, which airs Sundays at 9 a.m. on KATV Ch. 7.
Tsutsui has become an expert on the culture of Godzilla and he’s happy to talk about it, having written books and essays as well as delivering lectures on the iconic reptile.
But, he’s equally as immersed in the challenges of higher education. In the latest debate over workforce education, what role does a liberal arts school play? Is college still affordable despite rising costs? Can families survive growing student debt?
“We’re extremely concerned about keeping costs reasonable for parents,” Tsutsui said. “We realize that college tuition bill causes a lot of families to gulp and right now is making a lot of people think hard about where and how they’re going to pursue higher education. The onus really is on us to maintain those costs while keeping that quality of education high.”
Tsutsui is in his first year at Hendrix after serving as dean of Southern Methodist University’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, the largest of SMU’s seven colleges and schools. As a professor of history, he’s a specialist in modern Japanese business and economic history and his written on topics that not only include Godzilla, but also banking policy, manufacturing ideology, and nation building.
He even offers his thoughts on how the Japanese economic doldrums of the 1990’s parallel the current U.S. economy’s starts and stops. And, of course, he sees Godzilla-sized opportunities with his new position with Hendrix College.
Watch his on-air and extended online interview from this week’s show in the video below.