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Joe and Jean Adams
May 19, 2022
  • collage of photos of Patricia Adams

Mom loved teaching and counseling so much that she continued working at Maui College until age 85. It did not matter if it was a student in need or a colleague struggling with a project. Mom would always volunteer to help. Celebrating the achievements of others was always the measure of her own success. A journalist and English teacher, she was especially proud of the many faculty she guided through contract renewals and dossiers for tenure and promotion, and she thrived on countless hours of conversation, helping them to meet and improve on their goals as educators, counselors, and student support staff.

Mom also supported and encouraged many of the college’s staff in pursuit of their own degrees and certificates.

As an administrator, mom loved the camaraderie of her colleagues: in administrative and committee meetings, during luncheons celebrating a graduate she had supported, celebrating a birthday—as long as it wasn’t hers!—or any of the many successes of the Maui College ‘ohana.

An advocate for the underdog

Mom loved helping people elevate their positions in life, especially when she saw potential where they themselves did not believe it possible. Recruiting faculty from a seemingly unlikely pool of candidates and mentoring them to become respected tenured professors and counselors or encouraging career and technical students to reach their dreams, she was always an advocate for the underdog. As such, she especially had an affinity for trades programs where students sometimes struggled with general education classes such as math and English.

In 2007, she was instrumental in implementing and coordinating the statewide high-school-based Construction Academy program, attracting and recruiting high school students to either apprenticeship training or college trades programs. She particularly enjoyed visiting each of the Maui County public high schools. She loved meeting with students in person and seeing their building and construction projects.

In her work as UHMC’s Interim Assistant Dean of Instruction, mom recognized that vocational programs like UHMC’s Construction Technology program required instructors with specific trade-related skillsets outside of teaching. She also knew these programs needed more funding than general education classes to address these specific needs. As a result, she continuously fought to ensure career and technical programs received the resources necessary for offering quality technical education and teaching employable skills.

The establishment of the Patricia Jean Adams Memorial Fund is meant to be a continuation of mom’s efforts to provide needed equipment, supplies and materials, scholarships, travel costs, and professional development opportunities for UHMC’s Construction Technology students.   

Always our first stop: Maui College

When our mother passed away at age 90 in early 2017, we received a call from Cliff Rutherford, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Construction Technology Program. Cliff told us mom’s former colleagues were devastated by the news and wanted to honor mom in some manner. Cliff then asked us what we thought about a plaque and study area dedicated to mom. We loved the idea, and the next thing we knew, Cliff was inviting our family to Maui College for a celebration of mom’s life and time at UHMC. The event was amazing. All of mom’s friends and former colleagues were there, sharing very funny stories.

The irony is that mom never wanted the spotlight on herself. If she had known a study area and plaque in her honor were planned, she would have tried to nix the efforts. Thankfully, the school and her former colleagues did not concern themselves with what mom would have wanted. They forged ahead and have given our family a priceless treasure we will cherish forever. It means the world to us.

Every trip to Maui is emotional because we stop at the college before we go anywhere else on the island.  The study area and plaque honoring mom gives everyone in our family a place to be close to her, even though she is no longer with us.

Mom loved Maui College. She loved her colleagues. She loved her students and they loved her back. When we visit the school and read the heartfelt inscription, we can feel this love. This has become a very special place for us.


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.

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