Message from the President
May 26, 2023
Dear LMU Community:
I am saddened to share that Tom Plate, clinical assistant professor of Asian Pacific American Studies, passed away on May 23, 2023, of natural causes. He was 79 years old.
Professor Plate joined LMU in August 2010 teaching part-time as a Distinguished Scholar of Asian and Pacific Studies after a long, eminent career in journalism and an equally impactful tenure in academia. He transitioned to a full-time teaching role in 2017 and joined the faculty in the newly created Asia and Asian American Studies Department in 2019. His wealth of skills and experience enlightened his “Asia and the Media” classes and propelled Asia Media International, America's only website run by college students devoted entirely to Asia and the U.S., of which he was founder and editor in chief. Professor Plate mentored the young journalists who joined his crew, many of whom went on to work in media organizations or in diplomatic settings. He frequently leveraged his connections and contacts to the benefit of his students, hosting encounters with renowned scholars, diplomats, policy makers, and world leaders. Beloved by his students, “Prof. Tom,” as they called him, was also featured in LMU Magazine’s Off-Press podcast series.
His illustrious journalism career included stints at Newsday, New York Magazine, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, New York Newsday, and the Los Angeles Times. As a reporter and editor, he won the Deadline Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Beat Editorial Award from the Greater Los Angeles Press Club for three consecutive years, and he was editor of the editorial page at the Los Angeles Times from 1989 to 1995. In 1999, he was selected as a Hoover Institution Media Fellow. His regular column in the South China Post was recommended reading for policy makers and social thinkers.
Professor Plate left daily journalism to join the teaching faculty at UCLA in 1993, where for 15 years he taught undergraduate courses in media ethics, Asian politics, and media, and he founded the campus-based nonprofit Asia Pacific Media Center. When he retired from UCLA, his restless spirit and boundless curiosity brought him to LMU. He was also grateful to the Jesuits for supporting him through difficult times in his life, and he had an encompassing commitment to LMU’s mission and heritage.
He was the author of 17 books, including the Giants of Asia series of in-depth conversations with top political leaders in Asia (including presidents and prime ministers); policy-minded books, including “In the Middle of the Future,” “In the Middle of China's Future,” “The Fine Art of the Political Interview,” and “Yo-Yo Diplomacy”; a memoir, “Confessions of an American Media Man: What They Didn’t Tell You in Journalism School;” and a novel, “The Only Way to Go.”
Professor Plate earned his M.A. in public and international affairs from Princeton University (of which he was proud) and his B.A. from Amherst College (ditto!), where he was Phi Beta Kappa (tritto!). He was actively involved in supporting LMU’s successful application to host a PBK chapter and was engaged in chapter events.
Plans to celebrate Professor Plate’s career and life are pending and will be shared when available.
I will be forever grateful to Professor Plate for his loving friendship, humor, and unparalleled global imagination. Tom was instrumental in bringing world leaders like the former Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to LMU—whom we awarded with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2016.
Please keep Tom, his wife, Andrea, their daughter Ashley '14, their extended family, his many former students, and his friends around the world in your thoughts and prayers.
Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.