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Susan Bendon
August 29, 2022
  • Susan Bendon and family

Susan Bendon taught English at Maui College for over 30 years.

“By the time I retired, I had taught nearly every course in the English Department’s curriculum,” she says. “However, when I started teaching in the pre-internet 1980s, I needed some help that only national and regional educational conferences could provide: the latest data on educational techniques and the opportunity to preview a wide selection of just-off-the-press English textbooks and curricula. The only way for faculty to attend these conferences was to pay for them ourselves, an enormous outlay for any teacher. This is why I established the Bendon Family Foundation’s Fund for Teachers and Staff. This fund is helping to pay conference fees and transportation so Maui College’s teachers and staff can be the best they can be, with access to the resources conferences offer.”

Allaying costs for professional excellence

In 2001, the Bendon Family Foundation, of which Susan is Executive Director, established the Bendon Family Foundation Faculty and Staff Endowed Fund. Beginning with a $30,000 donation, the foundation has contributed regularly, and today it has grown to more than half a million dollars.

Susan and Jim Bendon“Every year we gave what we could afford, and I was really surprised to see the fund had grown by so much,” she says.

Susan’s heart for UH Maui has deepened, as has her commitment of time and energy in these years after her teaching career. She is the only former teacher to serve on Lui’s Hui, the Chancellor’s Advisory Board. She sees an increasingly vibrant future for the school.

She says, “It could be the heartbeat of our community as we head out of COVID-19 and into what’s best for us, for Maui Nui. Maui College, under the leadership of Chancellor Lui Hokoana, has done an excellent job at reaching out to businesses to discover what kind of skills prospective employees need. Think-tanks of students, faculty and business leaders are trying to project which skills and jobs will be needed in the future on Maui, in order to be prepared to meet those needs and to fill them with local Maui students. It is an honor to be a part of all the energy going into leading Maui Nui into new visions of the future.”

Chancellor Lui Hokoana says the Bendon Family Foundation has facilitated a tremendous amount of professional development for UHMC faculty. The fund has awarded a total of $109,478 to 162 UHMC faculty and staff for various professional development opportunities, particularly out-of-state professional conferences.

“Since 2014, we’ve given 179 tuition waivers for classes on campus,” says Hokoana. “In 2020 alone, these campus tuition waivers, additional grant funds, and workload accommodations have enabled two faculty and staff to progress toward associate degrees, three toward baccalaureate degrees, and 12 in doctoral degree coursework at UHMC and other institutions. This is the fruit of Susan’s unwavering, ongoing devotion to UH Maui. It is a reflection of her love for its people.”

Embracing Maui on a mission

Susan’s mother-in-law, Dorothy Kirstein, established the Bendon Family Foundation, whose mission is community enrichment through education, social services and environmental protection. In addition to the Bendon Family Foundation’s Faculty and Staff fund, the foundation has supported UHMC’s Library Fund and its Food Service Instruction Fund, and it is an enormous supporter of the Maui United Way and many more organizations on Maui.

As the Bendon Family Foundation continues its ardent dedication to UH Maui, Susan hopes others will embrace the college’s mission. “The education here is first-class, and our students receive plenty of one-on-one attention and assistance,” she says. “If people are looking for ways to do the best they can for their community in a real, nonpartisan way, I can’t think of a better place to put your money than into affordable, available education right here on our island. What could be more effective than investing in educating people for our future? This college is a gem!”

If you would like to learn how you can support UH students and programs like this, please contact us at 808 376-7800 or send us a message.