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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, August 11, 2001

Dods' gift to UH is an important message

The decision by Walter and Diane Dods to set up a $1 million public high school scholarship fund at the University of Hawai'i is a generous gesture and a strong signal of commitment to public education in the Islands.

Perhaps it will become the start of a long-awaited trend.

Dods, chairman and chief executive officer of First Hawaiian Bank, is an alumnus of the university, as is his wife. So their gift is understandable.

But it is also a signal that the trend in educational philanthropy may be shifting in Hawai'i. Island residents are far more accustomed to hearing about generous gifts from grateful alumni to private high schools than they are about gifts to the public education system.

There is nothing wrong with putting financial support behind our excellent private and parochial school system. But making the same kind of gesture to the public school system makes a powerful point.

"Hawai'i cannot succeed unless our public education system is viewed as an avenue toward success in life," Dods said in announcing the gift.

Precisely. That's a message that has not been heard enough in Hawai'i over the years.