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Judith Dion Pyle Dean’s Chair – Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge

October 16, 2012
  • Judith Pyle & Wayne Pitluck

Q & A with Judith Pyle

Why does the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge resonate so strongly with you?
My husband Wayne Pitluck and I have the deepest respect for the Hawaiian culture and learning about it has greatly enriched our lives. In fact, our appreciation for Hawaiian music and culture was an ongoing theme in our courtship, an important component of our wedding and remains a shared passion in our marriage.

The Hawaiian culture is a tremendously rich culture that needs to be honored and respected. We can all learn so much from it, including answers to key environmental issues that we are facing today – especially those relating to sustainability. I deeply believe that it is critical to preserve and promote the Hawaiian culture and I feel that by making this gift to the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge we have found an effective way to support this living culture.

What motivated you to make this gift?
My husband and I believe this gift is coming at an important time for the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge. With Virginia Hinshaw leading the campus as chancellor, Maenette Ah Nee-Benham serving as the dean, and Donna Vuchinich heading up the UH Foundation, I have tremendous confidence that this gift, given at this time, with these inspiring women stewarding this investment, will make a lasting, meaningful impact.

I was originally thinking of making this gift through my estate plan, but I got so excited about the impact this gift was going to make, I wanted to make it during my lifetime so I can see it in action. I am also encouraged because I know that as an endowed gift, the school will benefit from the fund for many years to come.

I hope this gift inspires others to make lead gifts to the University of Hawaiʻi. As a trustee on the UH Foundation board, I know the value philanthropy brings to our university, our students and our future.

If someone came to you and was considering making a large gift to the university, what would you tell them?
You must love and respect the institution/project immensely. Additionally, it is essential that you trust and respect the people who will be stewarding your gift. By having honest conversations with the key leaders, you can clarify your intentions and work with them to identify exactly where your gift can make the most impact.

It is an exciting process. I find philanthropy exhilarating and very meaningful.

What/who inspired you to be the philanthropist you are today?
My family. We have been major supporters of the University of Wisconsin – Madison. It is in our nature to give back to the communities in which we live, and our universities. Hawaiʻi is my home now, and I feel privileged to be in the position to support the University of Hawaiʻi.

Why did you join the UH Foundation board of trustees?
The real reason I joined the board was to support Virginia Hinshaw. I am so excited about what she is doing, has done and is attempting to do. I have a long history with her and I know how much can be done with her at the helm. She is a tremendously gifted, talented person.

Q & A with Maenette Ah Nee-Benham 

How did this historic gift come about?
First, my deepest mahalo to Chancellor Hinshaw who believes and is fully committed to the vision and mission of Hawaiʻinuiākea of Hawaiian Knowledge. It was through her effort that Judy Pyle became familiar with Hawaiʻinuiākea and with me. She and Judy took Hawaiian Studies 107 together. They opened their hearts and minds to learning about Hawaiʻi — it's people, history, land, and stories — from our Kanaka Maoli (indigenous people of Hawaiʻi) scholars.

Indeed, it takes a very special person, with insight and a spirit of generosity, to make such a gracious endowment. I am truly honored that Judy Pyle shares our vision of a healthy and vibrant Hawaiʻinuiākea where indigenous scholarship, learning and teaching, and community engagement inspires our faculty and students.

What impact will Judy’s gift make on the school, now and the future?
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). Additionally, her gift will assist us to continue to grow our work of community engagement, which will help us to engage in community development in our Native Hawaiian communities.

Why is your school important to our state and the nation/world?
Our school is unique in that we engage Kanaka Maoli and non-Kanaka Maoli scholars, practitioners, policy makers community leaders, traditional/cultural leaders to focus their wisdom and skill sets on pressing dilemmas with response to Kanaka Maoli principles and contemporary sensibilities. This indigenous world-view is rooted in the ʻaina and life pathways of our people (both traditional as well as neo-traditional and contemporary) and frames the context and content, the form and flow of how we educate and empower to ensure our sovereignty of spirit, people, and place. Kanaka Maoli have a rich history and wealth of wisdom that can enrich and bridge/span diverse communities and organizations.

ʻOnipaʻa! (Stand fast, stand strong, look forward!)

What role do you see private support playing in public higher education?
Philanthropy, and in our case endowments, can play a very important role in the work of a College/School. For example, some institutions might utilize endowments to offset rising tuition, support innovative learning experiences, or provide much needed support for adult students with families. As the Dean of Hawaiʻinuiākea, I see the resources supporting initiatives that revitalize the Hawaiian Language, generate and disseminate knowledge, and ensure that we serve our families; we must serve those that are most underserved.

The Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge is the newest school at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. We recognize the unique status of the Native Hawaiian people and recognize their unique connection to these forms of knowledge by encouraging, supporting, facilitating, and ensuring the incorporation of Native Hawaiians at all levels of the university. We seek to accomplish this mission with a Native Hawaiian perspective that recognizes the holistic aspects of this knowledge, its diversities, and the importance of practical applications. Our mission is to apply this knowledge to provide service and support to the Hawaiian community, as well as extending this knowledge outward from the academy and the community, into the Pacific and other international domains.

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.