$2 Million Gift Celebrates Native Hawaiian Culture

June 29, 2011

Honolulu — Judith Pyle, a successful business executive, University of Hawaiʻi Foundation board trustee and philanthropist, has made a $2 million pledge to establish an endowed dean's position at the UH Mānoa Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge. Pending Board of Regents' approval, this fund will be known as the Judith Dion Pyle Dean's Chair in the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge.

"How exciting this gift is for the future of our newest school Hawaiʻinuiākea - established in 2007, creating one of the largest and already leading schools of indigenous knowledge in the nation," noted Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw. "In 2008, we were blessed to recruit Maenette Benham as our inaugural dean — a dynamic, talented leader who is generating exciting partnerships across the campus and with the broader community." Hinshaw continued, "Judy, along with her husband, Wayne Pitluck, has a passion for preserving and promoting Native Hawaiian culture. They both clearly respect the great potential and high priority of this endeavor for UH Mānoa and for Hawaiʻi. Now she has stepped forward to ensure its success by endowing the dean's position. Many will benefit from her vision and generosity."

The fund will be used at the dean's discretion to advance the mission of Hawaiʻinuiākea, benefit from opportunities that may arise to enhance its mission, and support its priorities, goals and mission.

"It takes a very special person, with insight and a spirit of generosity, to make such a gracious endowment," said Maenette Ah Nee-Benham, dean, Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge. "I am truly honored that Judy shares our vision of a healthy and vibrant Hawaiʻinuiākea, where indigenous scholarship, learning and teaching, and community engagement, inspire our faculty and students." Ah Nee-Benham continued, "Her gift will help us grow in our continued efforts to build a Knowledge Well of Hawaiian knowing, in particular supporting Ka Waihona A Ke Aloha [Mele Institute in Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language] and supporting Hawaiʻinuiākea Publishing [a partnership with the University of Hawaiʻi Press]." She concluded, "This gift will assist us as we continue to grow our work of community engagement, which will help us engage in community development in our Native Hawaiian communities."

Examples of how the fund may be used include retaining and recruiting qualified faculty, supporting research that is in accordance with the school's mission, and supporting the use of knowledge gained by the school to perpetuate Hawaiian culture and community.

"During our time in Hawaiʻi, my husband, Wayne Pitluck and I have developed the deepest love and respect for the Native Hawaiian culture," said Judith Pyle. "We are constantly learning about this immensely rich, living culture, and it has greatly enriched my family's life." She continued, "I have tremendous confidence in Dean Maenette Ah Nee-Benham, Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw and UH Foundation president and CEO Donna Vuchinich and I trust that this gift will be well stewarded so it can support the school in its important work for many years to come."

Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw noted, "My heart is truly full of gratitude, optimism, and love as we celebrate this great Mānoa Moment." She continued, "Judy Pyle has been a very special person in my life for over twenty years — I know well her wonderfully giving nature. Her generous gift to our Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge reflects passions she and I also share — advancing Native Hawaiian culture, supporting women leaders and investing in higher education for Hawaiʻi."

Judith Pyle is currently the president (member and manager) of Judith Dion Pyle & Associates, LLC, located in Middleton, Wisconsin, a family office serving as her financial service company managing trusts and personal and business interests. Pyle previously held the position of vice chair of the board of directors of The Pyle Group, LLC, a Madison, Wisconsin, financial services company that oversees small- and medium-sized companies it has purchased or in which it has made investments.

Prior to her senior position at The Pyle Group, Pyle served as vice chair of the board and senior vice president of corporate marketing of the Rayovac Corporation, a leading worldwide company in the dry cell battery, hearing aid, flashlight and lithium battery market located in Madison, Wisconsin. Prior to joining Rayovac, Pyle was senior vice president of worldwide marketing and product development for Elizabeth Arden in New York, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company.

Pyle serves as a board member or a trustee of several private and public companies and many foundations, arts and philanthropic organizations, including:

  • Alliant Energy Corporation, Madison, Wis.
  • University of Madison School of Human Ecology, Madison, Wis.
  • Trustee University Hawaiʻi Foundation, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi
  • The Contemporary Museum of Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi
  • Uniek, Inc., Waunakee, Wis.
  • National Council for the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M.
  • International Women's Forum

Judith earned her undergraduate and master's degrees in fine arts at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has also completed advanced management programs at Harvard and the University of Virginia. In 1989, Judith received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

For more information on how you can support the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, please contact Emily Fay at (808) 956-5665 or Emily.Fay@uhfoundation.org. You can also make a gift online at www.uhfoundation.org/GiveToHawaiianKnowledge.

Please visit the photo gallery to view more photos from this event.

Two Sides of a $2 Million Gift (Q&A with Judy and Maenette)