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University of Hawaiʻi launches public phase of historic $1 billion campaign : Maui Now

The University of Hawaiʻi Foundation has launched the public phase of a campaign to raise $1 billion for all 10 campuses. L-R: Walter Dods, Jr., Rich Wacker, David Lassner, Karla Zarate-Ramierez and Tim Dolan. PC: University of Hawaiʻi

To raise $1 billion for current and future students, faculty and researchers at all 10 University of Hawaiʻi campuses, the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation launched For UH • For Hawaiʻi.

It is the public phase of the most ambitious, comprehensive fundraising campaign in Hawaiʻi’s history. Donors already have committed more than $569 million during the “quiet phase” of the campaign, according to a university press release.

Walter A. Dods Jr., a 1967 alumnus of UH Mānoa’s Shidler College of Business and longtime donor to the university, will serve as the campaign’s chair of the public phase. Dods previously chaired the 1998 UH Campaign for Hawaiʻi that raised $116 million for the university.


“We believe this historic campaign will elevate UH to its greater potential as a world-class university and provide a solid foundation for Hawaiʻi’s future,” Dods said in a press release. “There is no better investment than investing in Hawaiʻi’s future leaders.”

UH President David Lassner, ’98 PhD, said: “UH has a unique responsibility as Hawaiʻi’s sole public university to provide high-quality higher education opportunities that improve the quality-of-life for our people and communities throughout the islands.

“Private support is critical to helping students and families for whom higher education is the bridge to a thriving future as well as to ensure we can recruit and retain top-tier faculty and graduate students who are addressing some of the most important challenges and opportunities facing Hawaiʻi and the planet.”


UH plays a central role in the diversification of Hawaiʻi’s economy and workforce development, with innovative programs of study that nurture innovation and entrepreneurship, sustainability and research that spans a wealth of disciplines, tackling such challenges as sustainability and climate change.

Private support for UH is critical for maintaining academic and research excellence as public funding fluctuates with Hawaiʻi’s economy.

“UH is Hawaiʻi’s greatest asset as we work to make our economy more resilient and provide more diverse and rewarding career opportunities for our people,” said Rich Wacker, chair of the UH Foundation Board of Trustees.


Donors personally select the programs and campuses where they want to make an impact with their giving, whether it’s first-generation students, academic excellence for faculty, innovative world-class research or another UH initiative or program that they are passionate about.

“It gives our donors the power to connect their gifts and their passions with UH programs that have meaningful impact on the lives of students and their teachers, and important research that can only be done in Hawaiʻi,” said Karla Zarate-Ramirez, UH Foundation vice president for development.

Donations of $569 million have been committed during the quiet phase of the fundraising campaign. They include:

  • UH’s largest cash gift ever, $50 million for ocean health from Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg
  • Dods made a $5-million donation to UH’s new Residences for Innovative Student Entrepreneurs (RISE)
  • $5 million from Native Hawaiian Organizations for programs across the 10 campuses
  • An anonymous $4.6-million gift for the UH Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity
  • An anonymous $3-million gift to UH Hilo for endowed scholarships, including the first UH scholarship for LGBTQ+ students
  • More than $7 million from HMSA for medical student education and to endow a health economics professorship at the UH Economic Research Organization

The heart of the For UH • For Hawaiʻi campaign is focused on raising funds to support UH priorities that include:

  • Student success: Funding scholarships and access to college through innovative programs leveraging the strengths of the 10-campus system, ensuring students statewide have multiple points of entry to higher learning and the support they need for personal and academic success.
  • Research that matters: UH is at the forefront of leading competitive research in science and technology to improve the quality of life throughout the state, around the Pacific Rim and beyond to solve complex challenges. Tremendous momentum right now makes UH ready to propel even more novel research through greater strategic philanthropic investments.
  • Kuleana to Native Hawaiians and Hawaiʻi: UH can be a model for what it means to be an Indigenous-serving and Indigenous-centered institution where Native Hawaiians thrive, traditional Hawaiian values and knowledge are embraced, and UH scholarship and service advance all Native Hawaiians and Hawai‘i. This campaign will identify opportunities for all 10 campuses to collaborate on how Indigenous practices might guide the way to solving the problems we face now and in the future.
  • Sustainability, resilience and conservation: UH provides the scientific and intellectual capacity for addressing Hawai‘i’s problems and opportunities, particularly in the realms of sustainability, energy and climate resilience. With so much at stake in all facets of nowhere-but-Hawai‘i life in these islands, sustainability and conservation are critical to our work as we seek answers and effective actions.
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship: UH drives economic diversification and development across its campuses through research, innovation, entrepreneurship and technology with new ideas, new goods and services, new business practices and new ways of thinking about the interaction of Hawai‘i’s people with their economy. It means improving the climate for exchanging ideas, information and other commodities while equipping leaders for further disruption — and greater innovation.
  • Building Hawaiʻi’s workforce: UH is tasked with educating and training Hawai‘i residents for Hawai‘i jobs while meeting the state’s workforce needs of today, always with an eye on the needs of tomorrow.
  • Engaging our community: UH always remembers it is the university of Hawai‘i’s people. UH campuses welcome their neighbors to ceramics classes and volleyball games. They reach into neighborhoods with meals for children and concerts in the park. From lifelong learning opportunities to diverse performances in its theaters, UH is integral to the communities’ cultural and intellectual health.

For more information about For UH • For Hawaiʻi, The Campaign for the University of Hawaiʻi, visit uhfoundation.org/4uh4hi.

Source: Maui News

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