Isao Fujimoto is part of the Asian American Studies faculty and Senior Lecturer Emeritus in the Community and Regional Development department. He was awarded his doctorate by Cornell University in February of 2010, fifty years after his initial enrollment there. The thesis was based on the Central Valley Project, an organization dedicated to share information and strategies among smaller minority farming groups throughout California's Central Valley. The Colleges apartment complex has a building named after him, the first and only one in the complex to be named after an Asian person. He was also a featured speaker at the Fall 2007-2008 Convocation.
Fujimoto is often mentioned as a mentor or inspiration to students. He has taught hundreds in unique courses such as ABS 47, a four day Winter or Spring Break class that takes a group of UCD students to San Francisco's Tenderloin district. This class was originated by Fujimoto and Orville Thompson (of Thompson Hall fame) as a way of teaching undergraduates about communities by direct exposure and interaction.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, when he first came to UC Davis, Fujimoto helped direct students who were interested in setting up a variety of programs that have since become famous to many people in and outside of Davis. He recalls that about six programs gathered or held their business offices in his house, in including the Farmers Market and Davis Food Co-op. As a funny aside, he once asked a person from Davis while he worked at The National Center for Appropriate Technology in Butte Montana where he should send people if they want to know more about Davis and its progressive policies, and they gave the address to his house.
His background in California includes moving to the south of San Jose with his family to farm strawberries after being interned at Heart Mountain, Wyoming and Tule Lake, California during the war. His family was able to farm on an Indian reservation in Washington, as there was less restriction of Japanese under Native American sovereign government authority. He competed as a wrestler while a student at UC Berkeley, and taught high school chemistry in San Jose.