Matsuyo Omori Yamamoto was the first woman to receive Washington State University’s Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award. After receiving her degree in home economics in 1937 at what was then Washington State College, Yamamoto returned to Japan where she pioneered home economics extension programs. She received her Distinguished Alumnus Award for her contributions to better living in rural Japan. After earning a degree in English from Tokyo Women’s Christian College, she came to WSU in 1935 as a “friendship student of the Associated Women Students.” Yamamoto returned to Japan in 1938 and became the head of the Home Economics Division of the Tokyo YWCA School. At the end of World War II, she took charge of a new program of homemaking education for elementary, middle and high schools. In 1945, she joined the Japanese Ministry of Education and made the homemaking course compulsory for boys and girls from grades 5 through 12. Yamamoto later became the first woman section chief of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in charge of Home Economics Extension Service work. She recruited 68 “home advisers” to serve six million farm homes in Japan. When she left in 1965, the number of staff and home advisers had grown to nearly 3,000. She died August 10, 1999 at the age of 90. Because of her work in pioneering home economics and improving the quality of life for the rural populations of Japan and other Asian countries, Matsuyo Yamamoto established a scholarship in home economics at Washington State University through her Will so that others could continue to serve populations in need.
The income from this fund shall be used to award a single, annual merit-based scholarship of at least $2,000 to a Washington State University student, according to the following criteria: A student seeking a degree in one of the various fields of home economics; An Asian student, or students from other countries if there is no deserving Asian student; High academic standing, as it is perceived by Washington State University.