Categorized | Education

UH Hilo Distinguished Alumni & Service Awards Banquet


The community is welcome to join in the festivities of the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s 13th Annual Distinguished Alumni and Service Awards Banquet, held on Friday Feb. 22, 2013 at the UH Hilo Campus Center starting at 5 p.m.

Sponsored by the University’s Alumni and Friends Association, this signature event includes entertainment, live and silent auctions, a delicious buffet and the opportunity to share an evening with university, community leaders and supporters.

The 2013 Distinguished Alumni honorees are Eric Matsumoto (BA ’83), Larry Kimura (MA ’02; PhD ’12), and Valerie Takata (BA ’72).

The Distinguished Service honoree is Gerald De Mello.

Eric Matsumoto is the 16th Bishop of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, the state’s largest Buddhist denomination. He is the third-youngest minister in the history of the mission to assume the title of bishop. Matsumoto preaches peace is “a living entity, not an inanimate object or thing,” and stresses that it must be nurtured to grow.

Born and raised in the coffee-growing community of Honaunau on the Big Island, he is a graduate of Konawaena High School and a recipient of the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship. Matsumoto has a master’s degree in Shin Buddhism from Ryukoku University and was resident minister of Moiliili Hongwanji on Oahu for eight years.

He has also served at Big Island temples in Paauilo, Honokaa, Waimea and Kohala.

Dr. Larry Kimura is recognized as the grandfather of the movement to perpetuate the use of Hawaiian language in modern Hawaii, and has a PhD in Indigenous Language Revitalization.

As the Assistant Professor of Hawaiian Language and Culture, Kimura has spent 20 years creating audio documentation of the last native Hawaiian language speakers.

He is co-founder of Hawaii’s Punana Leo Hawaiian Language Immersion Schools and Chairman of the Hawaiian Lexicon Committee to create new Hawaiian words. Kimura also serves as Hawaiian Cultural Planner and Interpreter for the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Imiloa Center.

Valerie Takata is the State of Hawaii, DOE Complex Area Superintendent for the Hilo and Waiakea District. Prior to her appointment in February 2002, Takata served as Hawaii District Superintendent and Deputy District Superintendent.

During her administration at Keonepoko Elementary School, she was selected as the State of Hawaii’s National Distinguished Principal. Takata is a strong supporter of thehighly successful “Journey Through the Universe” program, and a pioneer of the Huiana Student Internship Initiative, which is the state’s only islandwide internship program.

Takata has been credited with co-founding a landmark business-education partnership, establishing an alliance between businesses, the community, the University of Hawaii at Hilo and the Department of Education.

Gerald De Mello was the Director of University Relations at the University of Hawaii at Hilo for the past 21 years. He previously taught Sociology for 15 years at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and the Hawaii Community College, where his efforts were recognized with the Excellence in Teaching Award.

Following his tenure as an educator, De Mello was East Hawaii Administrative Assistant to Governor John Waihee. Under his directorship, the University has attracted funding and resources for a new classroom building, a marine science building, a student life center and a new science and technology building.

He also helped to establish the North Hawaii Education and Resource Center, the College of Pharmacy, a new College of Hawaiian Language building and the Student Housing Complex University Village.

“The Distinguished Alumni & Service Awards Banquet has become an integral component of the UH Hilo Alumni & Friends Association,” said Yu Yok Pearring, Director of Marketing and Alumni. “Proceeds of the auctions go to fund the UH Hilo Alumni Scholarship program. This is a very unique scholarship opportunity because it is applicable to immediate relatives of UH Hilo alumni or alumni themselves returning for another degree.”

Tickets to the event include the cost of the buffet at $75 each or $600 for a table of eight (a portion is tax- deductible). Please contact the University of Hawaii at Hilo Marketing and Alumni office at 974-7501 or 974- 7643 for tickets.

— Find out more: alumni


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