Categorized | Education

$500K for UH Hilo’s first endowed chair


Practicing Hilo dentist and University of Hawaii at Manoa faculty member Patsy Fujimoto is honoring her former University of Hawaii at Hilo history professor David Purcell, by establishing an endowment at UH Hilo with a $500,000 gift.

David C. Purcell, Jr.

David C. Purcell, Jr.

The David C. Purcell, Jr. Endowed Visiting Chair in History in the College of Arts and Sciences will enable the department to bring distinguished historians to campus, and increase the amount of expertise in American, Asia/Pacific and European history, as well as in other fields of history.

“UH Hilo is grateful to Dr. Fujimoto for her generosity in establishing this endowment,” said UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney. “Knowledge of history enriches our communities and strengthens society, and I’m pleased the inspiration Dr. Purcell imparted to his student years ago will benefit UH Hilo students for years to come.”

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Randy Y. Hirokawa added, “Dr. Fujimoto’s gift to UH Hilo is transformational in the sense that, for the first time, we will be able to bring to our campus some of the best scholar/teachers in the field of history to bolster our already outstanding faculty in the History Department.”

Hirokawa continued, “How truly exciting it will be for our students to be able take courses from world-renowned history professors whose work they may only have read in textbooks or journals articles. Great universities like Harvard and Stanford are able to do that for their students; and thanks to Dr. Fujimoto, UHH will be able to do that for our students too.”

Dr. Fujimoto attended UH Hilo, and graduated from UH Manoa with a certificate in dental hygiene and a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.

She received her Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry, now the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.

Since 1981, she has been an assistant professor in the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene at UH Mānoa. She also has a private general practice in Hilo.

While attending UH Hilo, Dr. Fujimoto took many classes in Asian history from Dr. Purcell and applies the life lessons she gleaned from his classroom to her own teaching today.

“Dr. Purcell knew his material thoroughly and set very high standards for his students and himself,” said Dr. Fujimoto. She continued, “My experiences with Dr. Purcell solidified my belief that a solid undergraduate education gives the learner a lifetime of ideals and values. I am most grateful for all he taught us and strive to emulate his commitment to students in my teaching, and through this gift.”

Fujimoto concluded, “While I started the endowed chair, it is my hope that other former students, faculty members and friends will consider supporting this endowment that will add so much value to the educational experience for our UH Hilo students.”

Dr. David C. Purcell Jr. earned a Ph.D. in Japanese history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1967. While completing his doctoral studies he was awarded a two-year fellowship for Japanese language study at the East West Center at UH Manoa.

He taught at Sophia University in Tokyo, as well as at California State University, East Bay and at Miami University of Ohio before coming to Hilo.

He joined the UH Hilo faculty in 1970 where he taught courses in the history of Japan, China and Oceania until his retirement in 2001.

He is a recipient of the Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award, and he served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UH Hilo from 1976-1983.

“I am profoundly grateful to Dr. Fujimoto for establishing an endowed professional chair in my name,” Prof. David Purcell, Jr. said. “Her extraordinary commitment to undergraduate education at UH Hilo will benefit future generations of students, not only from Hawaii, but also from the nation and the world.”

Hirokawa concluded, “My congratulations and appreciation go out to Dr. Purcell. For a professor, it is always gratifying to be told by a former student that you made a difference in his/her life. But to have that former student endow a professorship in your honor is a professor’s dream, and one that can never be surpassed by any award or recognition.”

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