When Russia hurled its Sputnik satellite into orbit October 1957, it initiated the USA-USSR Space Race, but it also launched Jacquie Maly to UH Mānoa.
“Years later, high school teachers of science and foreign languages could go to federally funded summer institutes, upgrading our abilities to teach, so we could equip our students to beat the Russians,” says Maly, who taught physics in Chicago. “My criteria were a topic I was interested in and a university as far from Chicago as possible. If I was going to spend six to eight weeks of my ten-week vacation, I wanted it to count!”
A summer studying radiation biology at UH led to teaching positions at Mānoa, Leeward Community College, and the brand-new Windward Community College.
“It was a great experience—not everyone gets to open a college.”
- Jacquie Maly
Literally building a school
The earliest days were a challenge. Windward opened in abandoned state hospital buildings with “big wards from one end of the building to another.”
“They put up some walls to make ‘classrooms’ in a couple of the buildings,” she says. “My dear general contractor husband Ted made lab tables for me in one of my classrooms, because we only had tablet arm chairs for student desks. In a separate room, he put up bulletin boards, and he made tables and boxes to secure tape recorders, setting up our audio tutorial lab for self-guided lab work. My husband was a saint.”
Maly taught for 23 years at Windward CC. “When we first opened, I relished the solidarity of the faculty. We all communicated with each other—we had to, because the faculty was housed in one large office. I valued the cooperation, and one thing we’ve maintained at Windward over the years is the caring faculty. Even the young faculty has caught the message that we are a caring campus.”
An atmosphere of solidarity and caring translated to the student body as well, says Maly, who is still in contact with some students from the early years. For more than 20 years, she has maintained an email list called Hui Ho‘opili, the “Sticking-together” group, which includes more than 100 former students, faculty and staff.
“Faculty who return from sabbatical ordinarily come back and file a report, and someone puts the file in a drawer and forgets about it,” Maly says, “but we invite them to deliver brown-bag lunch presentations for the Ho‘opili members, plus current faculty and staff. It’s a great thing all the way around. It gives our extended community a chance to get back on campus and rub elbows with people, and it lets the faculty and staff learn what their colleagues did on sabbatical.”
Still building where there is need
Although she retired from the classroom in 1999, Maly continues to be part of campus life, presenting all the public lectures in the Imaginarium for the past 20 years. She has also been a volunteer usher and a volunteer assistant theater manager at Palikū Theatre. In the days before the Windward campus added food service, Maly asked Ho‘opili members to assist the chancellor’s office, setting out buffets for breakfast and lunch at the semesterly convocation.
The convocation, held at the beginning of every semester before students report for classes, is an important occasion for the faculty and support staff to “begin each semester on the same page,” focusing together on the school’s goals and mission.
Today, the school’s cafeteria caters the event. When funds were especially tight recently, Maly picked up the catering bill for the entire faculty. “Not a problem; I’ll pay for lunch,” she said.
Spurred by the importance of the recurring event and its ongoing need, Maly established the Jacquie Maly Advancement Endowment to support the chancellor’s efforts in promoting staff development and quality Windward Community College education.
“This fund is not only for convocation,” she says. “The chancellor covers expenses for faculty going to conferences, and for staff training, so the fund will foster staff development at the college, including convocation.”
Windward CC chancellor Ardis Eschenberg says, “Jacquie Maly’s generosity has supported and grown WCC from the moment she set foot on campus. In all her endeavors, Jacquie consistently gives time, thought, hard work and aloha. With this endowed gift, she carries her vision of support for our faculty and college into the future. We are so thankful for Dr. Maly, our beloved, benevolent Energizer Bunny!”
The fund assures Windward Community College that some needs will always be taken care of, and that one of its founding professors will forever contribute to the school’s growth, as she did on the school’s first day, and as she does now.
“They made me an emeritus professor,” Maly says. “That’s Latin for ‘she retired but she didn’t go away.’”