(Hilo, Hawaiʻi) - Dr. Rose Y. Tseng, chancellor of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, today announced that the UH Hilo has received a $2.4 million cash gift from Alec and Kay Keith of Hilo to establish an endowed scholarship fund for graduates of Hawaiʻi and Pacific Island high schools. The gift is the largest private donation ever made to any institution in the University of Hawaiʻi system by an individual.
"On behalf of the University of Hawaiʻi system, I am very grateful to Alec and Kay Keith for their faithful and generous support of the university and the students of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific Islands," said UH President Evan S. Dobelle. "Their heartfelt desire to ensure educational opportunities are available to these students is extremely inspiring, and their contribution will make an enormous impact in our continuing efforts to serve the needs of the people of Hawaiʻi."
The DxRx VIVA, Inc. Endowed Scholarship Fund is designed to provide educational opportunities for Hawaiʻi and Pacific Island students who show great academic promise but have difficulty paying their education bills.
"This gift exemplifies philanthropy at its best," said Tseng. "A college education can make all the difference in the world in the life of an individual. We will now have resources to offer scholarships to many more students than ever before."
"Kay and I appreciate just how necessary and important scholarships are," Dr. Keith said. "A student who works hard, shows potential and wants to go to college should not lose that opportunity because of financial considerations."
Keith has compiled a distinguished career as a professor at several prominent universities, including University of California at Berkeley, and is a research scientist with over 100 patents. Keith is also entrepreneurial and has built a number of companies, including Watson Pharmaceuticals and remains chairman or director of several. Keith serves on the UH Hilo Advisory Board and is an affiliate faculty member of the UH Hilo Chemistry Department.
The gift is the second major donation the Keiths have made to the university since moving to the Big Island in 1996. In 2000, they gifted a $1.8 million dollar charitable trust to support the university's development goals.
"We believe one of the best ways to improve the overall quality of life is to help the university fulfill its potential," Dr. Keith said. "Hopefully, our gift will encourage others to do likewise."
"Private giving and philanthropic leadership gifts, like the Keith's gift, have the power to shape the future of the University of Hawaiʻi," commented Betsy Sloane, president of the UH Foundation. "For any major university -public or private -private giving is the engine of growth. This has never been truer than today, as state governments are finding it difficult to maintain, let alone, increase their funding of public higher education."
"UH Hilo and the community it serves is extremely fortunate to have such dedicated friends and supporters as Alec and Kay Keith," Tseng said. "The generosity and leadership they have shown will go a long way toward helping us become the Pacific's premier public comprehensive university."
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The University of Hawaiʻi Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawaiʻi System. The mission of the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation is to unite donors' passions with the University of Hawaiʻi’s aspirations by raising philanthropic support and managing private investments to benefit UH, the people of Hawaiʻi and our future generations www.uhfoundation.org.