It's Shidler Business College
By Greg Wiles
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Greg Wiles
One of the biggest gifts in the University of Hawai'i at Manoa's history will be used to transform its business college into one of the top-25 such programs at public universities nationally within the next seven years, school officials said.
The officials, who yesterday formally accepted the gift from real estate entrepreneur Jay Shidler, said the donation has the potential to elevate the campus and the state's economy as the school attracts top scholars and students. The money will be used for scholarships, new programs, faculty endowment and building renovations.
"This is for our students, our community," said Kitty Lagareta, chairwoman of the university's Board of Regents. "Many of us believe it's going to benefit the economic future of the state of Hawai'i."
Lagareta, UH President David McClain and others said the donation could be a springboard for more large contributions that help raise the stature of the Manoa campus and enhance education in the state. High-profile universities can help raise the economic status of surrounding communities by helping attract businesses seeking well-educated graduates.
"A top-ranked business school will help Hawai'i attract and retain the best business minds and entrepreneurs," said McClain. "Jay's gift also means there will be more opportunity for the young people of Hawai'i."
The school has been renamed the Shidler College of Business. Shidler, 60, graduated from the school in 1968 and did his first commercial real estate deal while attending UH. He went on to start more than 30 companies across the U.S. worth billions of dollars. The holdings of one of those companies, the Shidler Group, includes The Davies Pacific Center and City Center in Downtown Honolulu, the Waterfront Plaza office complex and the Pan Am Building on Kapi'olani Boulevard.
Shidler and his wife, Wallette, a Kamehameha Schools graduate, make their home in Hono-lulu and previously had donated $175,000 to UH. Shidler, the son of an Army officer, lived here in 1949 and came back to attend UH, bypassing several East Coast universities after graduating from high school in Maryland. He said the experience of going to school in the post-statehood years when Hawai'i's economy was taking off presented a seemingly endless spectrum of possibilities, something that shaped his outlook in business.
While at UH, he worked afternoons for real estate appraiser Philip Won and came across a Maikiki property he believed could be developed. He helped in the development and received a cut of the property when it was built as the 1111 Wilder condominium on the slope of Punchbowl.
Other schools had approached Shidler about donations, but aside from contributing to a few university real estate programs, he had resisted making big gifts. UH was different, though.
"This is my college, this is my school," said Shidler, whose sense of humor extends to quoting a line from a Beach Boys' song, "Be true to your school," when talking about the gift. His younger brother, Steve, also is a graduate of the business college.
About a year ago, V. Vance Roley, dean of the business school, began calling Shidler asking for a donation. When the two finally met about six months ago, Roley, who joined UH in 2004 from the University of Washington where he had been acting dean, discussed building the business college into a one of the top public university business schools, including making its MBA program one of the top 50 in the U.S. among private and public universities.
Shidler said he liked Roley's clear plans and goals and consented to the gift. In October, the UH Board of Regents voted to allow the naming of facilities and programs for living individuals. The Shidler College of Business is the first such naming of a college at UH. Some notable business schools at public universities, including those at the University of California at Los Angeles and Berkeley, are named for donors.
Roley said Shidler has not put any stipulations or strings on the donation, though he will be involved in a $1 million in-kind renovation and remodeling of the business school's dated facilities.
The donation is a challenge to excel and "asks us to step up to greatness," Roley said. With it the school has a chance to attract top-flight talent and "perhaps graduate the next Jay Shidler."
Reach Greg Wiles at firstname.lastname@example.org.