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January 14, 2013

An inspired donor has made one of the largest gift commitments to the University of Hawai‘i by a private individual to benefit UH students and research.

The donor's $9.2M gift will:

  • Fund scholarships for underrepresented students on 10 campuses
  • Expand our knowledge of the universe
  • Fuel research in microbial oceanography and grow our knowledge of the tiniest organisms so important to a healthy ocean ecosystem
  • Help build an advanced culinary training facility in Hawai‘i
  • Help people live better for longer
  • Save Hawai‘i's endangered plants.

Through endowed and expendable accounts in the following areas, this donor's impact will be immeasurable for many years to come.

Director's Chair in Astronomy at the Institute for Astronomy (IfA), UH Mānoa

"IfA does not have any endowed chairs but we have one of the largest faculty groups in the whole U.S. astronomy. With an endowed chair we will be able to bring some of the best faculty members and graduate students here because it gives flexibility that otherwise is not possible.

IfA contributes to our very understanding of the universe. It also excites young people and inspires them to think about careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields."

Dr. Günther Hasinger, astronomer and IfA director

Chair in Microbial Oceanography at the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), UH Mānoa

"Microbial oceanography is the study of the tiniest organisms in the ocean, the microorganisms. These organisms dominate the biomass of the ocean and provide food for most of the food web, harvest solar energy, degrade most of the pollutants that we pour into the ocean every day, and are fundamental for the biodiversity of our planet. Most of the unknown diversity is in the microbial world and we are trying to understand that diversity.

This gift will be used by a team of scientists at UH and the Center for Microbial Oceanography Research and Education (C-MORE) to promote our pioneering, frontline research and education missions."

Dr. David Karl, director of C-MORE & Hawai‘iOcean Time-series (HOT) program co-PI

The Culinary Institute of the Pacific (CIP) Facility

"One of the premier programs within the community colleges is culinary education. We have almost 800 students enrolled across the state in 6 different programs. Some of Hawai‘i's best chefs are products of these programs. But we've never had the opportunity for them to get an advanced training without going away to the mainland. So we've created this vision on the slopes of Diamond Head, building an advanced culinary institute that would lead students to get more skills in culinary and also the business skills that they need to be successful as restaurateurs in the hospitality industry.

That project is happening after many years of planning, thanks in part to gifts like this. It's going to be fantastic!"

Dr. John Morton, vice president for community colleges

Professorship in Geriatric Medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), UH Mānoa

"This gift will help us support two faculty members on an ongoing basis who will contribute to both training and research in geriatric medicine. Expertise in geriatric medicine is critical for Hawai‘i as we have one of the oldest populations in the U.S. We know that as we age, a variety of conditions can develop. Having faculty who are focused on understanding the physiology of aging, and how to work hand-in-hand with the patient to promote healthy aging, is a key part of our training program.

We have a wonderful teaching program, and are doing some phenomenal research in geriatrics that serves our community. This gift will greatly enhance our ability to build our training and research programs and better serve Hawai‘i's people."

Dr. Jerris Hedges, dean, JABSOM

Support Construction of the Hawaiian Rare Plant Conservation Lab at the Lyon Arboretum, UH Mānoa

"Hawaiian flora is one of the most unique in the world. Of the 1200 or so native plant species that we have in Hawai‘i, 90% of them occur nowhere else on the face of the earth. We also have the dubious distinction of having the most endangered flora in the world. The U.S. government has listed 350 of our native plant species as threatened or endangered. We have a great challenge ahead of us in safeguarding our precious and fragile natural heritage.

At present, we are storing in tissue culture about 160 of the 350 rare species in vials, including five that are now extinct in the wild. This allows us to store thousands of plants in a relatively small space. Our vision has been to have at least 500 species in tissue culture, along with seeds that we can use for future restoration into nature, by 2020 - all housed in the new state-of-the-art facility. This gift will allow us to achieve that vision."

Dr. Christopher Dunn, director, Lyon Arboretum

Scholarships to attend any University of Hawai‘i campus

"This gift will greatly help students on their personal and academic journeys. For many of the students, this means entering the system through the community colleges and then transferring to a baccalaureate institution if a four year degree is their chosen path.

Without scholarship support, many students, particularly our underrepresented groups, find the transition from affordable community colleges to the more expensive baccalaureate institutions overwhelming. Scholarships make this transition much easier and allow students to apply themselves to their studies and ultimately succeed and graduate."

Dr. John Morton, vice president for community colleges

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.