When she passed away on April 30 2018, Diane Dods left behind adoring friends, a devoted family and a world she helped make better. Her dedication to the arts in Hawai‘i gave us a contemporary exhibit space in downtown Honolulu and a book profiling local artists. Her dedication to a number of service organizations in Honolulu, lent wisdom to the community and helped build stronger, more vibrant lives. Her commitment to higher education enabled more than 130 students to complete their college educations at University of Hawai‘i campuses.
Growing up on the Kawailoa sugar plantation in Waialua town, Diane’s parents – a teacher and a school principal – served the children of immigrant laborers who had come to work on the plantation from other countries. She graduated with honors from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa earning a bachelor’s degree in political science as well as considerable recognition for her outstanding research paper – “Community Power Structures: A Case Study of Honolulu”, which examined the decision-making dynamics of leaders in the late 1960.
Diane began her career as an Information Program Analyst in the Hawai‘i State Department of Planning and Economic Development. She then served as the Press Secretary for both U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye and then Lieutenant Governor George Ariyoshi. During the 1980s she worked at the East-West Center, first as their Director of Public Affairs, and then as the Corporate Secretary.
Champion for higher education
Throughout her life, Diane always championed the power of higher education, never losing sight of the community that helped raise her.
Observing the difficulty of immigrants who tried to educate their children, Diane and her husband established the Walter A. and Diane N. Dods Scholarship in 2015. Each year, this scholarship provides grants and financial assistance to public school students from immigrant families. “It’s a joy for us to help people get educated,” Walter explains.
“Because I am from a low-income Filipino family, paying for college seemed out of reach,” said Shari Anne, a computer science major, in a letter to the Dods family. “With your help, I was able to fully fund my first semester of college at UH Mānoa.”
This scholarship enables many students to concentrate on academics whilst participating in leadership development through co-curricular organizations. Helen Law, a 2018 graduate of UH Mānoa’s Shidler College of Business, was a multi-year recipient who studied abroad at the National University of Singapore. Today she is preparing for a Chinese language program at Shenzhen University in Guangdong, China.
“I hope to continue my education and fulfill my interest in Chinese languages,” she says. “Being chosen as a recipient was a huge honor, and a significant support throughout my four years at UH Mānoa.”
Helen Law, 2018 graduate of UH Mānoa’s Shidler College of Business
Sheree Mae, a student with big dreams, said, “This scholarship at Kapi‘olani Community College makes me the first in my family to attend college. I’ve seen how hard my parents work every day just to make sure I have a roof over my head and clothes to wear. My family and I will never forget the support you’ve given me.”
Diane cared consistently about education and Hawai‘i’s youth. Her dedication enables countless future generations of ambitious youth to seek higher learning and all its rewards.