Skip to main content
UHF staff
August 15, 2023
  • ACM: The School of Cinematic Arts students

One student purchased software to help with biblical research. Two presented their research at professional conferences; a linguistics conference in Oregon and a conference of Renaissance scholars in Puerto Rico. A duo produced a podcast. Another student traveled to Oklahoma to conduct research on oral storytelling and photography, and a group of nine students completed a short film and submitted it to film festivals.

Fifteen undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of disciplines within the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Arts, Languages & Letters (CALL) were able to complete projects and seize on opportunities to enrich their college experiences through travel and engaging with distinguished scholars because of the Elizabeth Spann Student Enrichment Fund.

Elizabeth Spann
Elizabeth Spann

The Elizabeth Spann Student Enrichment Fund is named for Elizabeth “Betty” Spann. Always an adventurer, right out of high school, she joined the Navy and landed in Hawaiʻi. After that, she lived in Milan, Italy, and worked with a high-end fashion designer. “Homesick” for Hawaiʻi, she returned and made a career as an airline executive at Pan Am, and later a manager at Schuler Homes. Betty was a curious lifelong learner and avid reader, particularly in music, art, literature and philosophy. She traveled frequently and extensively, through every continent except Antarctica.  

“Elizabeth Spann loved humanities, she loved the arts, she loved learning, she loved travel,” says CALL Dean Peter Arnade. “And so, I'm very grateful that this endowment in her memory is gifted to our college.”

The gift finances students for projects that enhance their academic experiences outside the classroom. That may include research, travel, equipment, conference attendance, participation in performances, exhibitions, or competitions. The college dean may also use the fund to accomplish strategic goals for CALL. The 2023 awardees aptly reflect Spann’s broad interest and life experience.

Justin Gerald Ocampo and a group of eight other students from ACM: The School of Cinematic Arts received a grant to complete the production of “Kunyari,” their romantic comedy short film “with a distinctly Filipino-American identity.” The grant paid for festival submission fees, promotional materials, and travel to film festivals where the film has the potential to be entered for awards.

“The Elizabeth Spann Student Enrichment Fund has enabled our team to share our work with all audiences, but most especially members of the Philippine diaspora, at state, regional, and international film festivals,” Ocampo says. “This grant allowed us to remain competitive and viable in the distribution of our film, a phase where independent filmmakers are usually constricted by a lack of funding and studio support.”

Arnade asserts the fund honoring Elizabeth Spann is vitally important for CALL, since there typically isn’t a lot of funding available for these purposes.  “For an undergraduate or graduate student who's seeking to go to a conference or buy a piece of software or a musical instrument, for example, this kind of award has a very big impact.”

Elizabeth Spann died in 2019. Her husband, Jay Lowell Rego, died in 2020 and had directed a major portion of his trust to the UH Foundation. His trustee, Dr. Lee Putnam, a long-time UH employee and former Regent, worked with the dean and the UH Foundation to establish the fund in Elizabeth Spannʻs honor. Putnam also made a personal gift to jumpstart awards in the fundʻs first year. 

“Betty would be hugely gratified to know her contribution to augmenting student success,” Putnam said.  “I’m sure she would also be enormously proud of each and every one of these students and their accomplishments.”

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.