Keiko Miwa

“Liberty Lutheran has made positive changes here at The Village.” Keiko shares. “They have moved The Village in the right direction with all the new spaces, new atmosphere, and a new attitude.”

One thing that brings joy to Dr. Keiko Miwa Ross is her pretty gardens at The Village at Penn State. For over 16 years she has landscaped, built and cared for them continuously. Her Japanese culture inspires her selection of plants and features that she uses in her gardens.

The depth and rich history of Keiko’s life and her legacy go far beyond her garden. She was born in Hyogo, Japan, where her father was a college professor. In 1953 the old Japanese higher education system was drastically changed to model the American system, and the college education was opened to Japanese women for the first time in the nation’s history. Under this new college system,  Keiko became one of the first female college students in Japan.

After attending National Kobe University in Japan for two years, she received a scholarship to study at Eastern Washington State University in Cheney,  Washington, USA. There she enrolled as a junior student, lived one year at the college dormitory, and another year she lived with an American family in Spokane, Washington. It was also there that she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education degree in two years with honors from Eastern Washington State  University.

After graduation, she went back to Japan, began to teach at a Japanese college, and lived in Nishinomiya City. When Nishinomiya and Spokane wanted to become sister cities, Keiko contributed a great deal for this sister city program. The mayor of Spokane consequently awarded her honorary citizenship of Spokane, and the Washington Water Company awarded her a scholarship to do her graduate studies in the USA. So, Keiko got her Master of Education degree from Eastern Washington State University in one year, and Doctor of Education degree from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington in two years.

In 1974, the American Embassy in Japan requested Keiko’s help for a visit by then President Gerald Ford. “Back then, there were no computers, no cell phones,” she points out. “They had to set up an entire floor of the largest hotel in Japan as the communications center to connect President Ford from wherever he visited in Japan to the people he needed to be in touch with in the USA in case of an international critical emergency. It was quite an operation.” When President Ford left Japan, he awarded Keiko the Presidential Certificate of Appreciation.

Keiko met her husband, Samuel Thomas Ross, at Expo ’70, the world’s fair in Osaka, Japan. He was the director of a US-Japan joint venture company in Japan. Eventually, they moved to New York City. When Samuel, a graduate of Penn State University, was ready to retire, the couple decided to live in State College. They moved to The Village at Penn State in 2003, the first year when The Village at Penn State was built.