The UHAA Distinguished Alumni Awards pay tribute to those alumni who have made outstanding contributions to their professions and community, committed themselves to advancing the values and goals of the University of Hawaiʻi and ensuring improvement in the quality of life for future generations.
On May 10, 2012, the UH Alumni Association bestowed its 2012 President’s Award on Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw. The slideshow which accompanied the presentation is available in both Acrobat (13 MB pdf) or PowerPoint (48 MB ppt) formats.
UHAA President Douglas Inouye’s Award Presentation Speech
Since her inauguration as UH Mānoa chancellor in November 2007, Virginia Hinshaw has given the UH Alumni Association her indomitable enthusiasm and tireless support. During her inaugural address, Chancellor Hinshaw spoke of her ancestral Native-American roots and of the parallels with Hawaiian and local culture. It was clear to me then that Chancellor Hinshaw already understood and had embraced the aloha spirit.
I had the sense that she truly appreciated the concept of ʻohana and how important it is to our university community. She made it clear that she saw alumni as an integral part of this family – those from Mānoa and all our UH System campuses, including even the many friends without UH degrees who support our university.
If I had a dime for every person Chancellor Hinshaw encouraged to join the UH Alumni Association, I could probably build another Stan Sheriff Arena! At every UH function I have seen her attend, she always speaks of how great UH alumni are and how they are part of the very fiber of our university. She has continually reminded us of the importance of staying actively engaged as alumni, and stands alongside us as a proud, lifetime member of UHAA. Also a generous donor, she truly believes in giving back to this community.
Her aloha for alumni and support for our organization have been evident in the many things she’s done for us during her tenure as UH Mānoa chancellor. Here are just a few:
- Ever the ambassador for UH Mānoa, Chancellor Hinshaw brings her alumni and “H” pins to people wherever she goes. (I suspect there are a few of you who may have even received one tonight!) This simple gesture of goodwill, which has been repeated thousands of times, has generated a wave of pride and sentiment that has stirred our alumni community.
- To further build pride, Chancellor Hinshaw laid the groundwork for new traditions at UH Mānoa by resurrecting Homecoming. She invited alumni back to campus to reconnect and join in the fun, hosting events on Bachman lawn and Ching Field.
- Chancellor Hinshaw has attended so many after-hours events, we often wondered when she found time to rest! She stayed late for award dinners and arrived early at football games to mingle with alumni tailgaters. She never failed to engage alumni at these events because she realized the profound importance of simply “talking story.”
- In addition to all she did on O‘ahu, Chancellor Hinshaw has traveled far and wide to engage alumni, with overseas trips to China, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines, to name a few. She’s had the opportunity to meet and connect with many prominent alumni around the world.
- In an effort to become more directly involved with alumni and offer her support, Chancellor Hinshaw established the Mānoa Alumni Council and convened with our UHAA chapter leaders quarterly to collaborate on ways to connect with alumni.
- Perhaps Chancellor Hinshaw’s most symbolic gesture of her commitment to UHAA was in giving us a seat on the commencement stage. This has allowed us to address the graduating class, leaving them with the last words they hear as students … and the first words they hear as alumni. We’ve been able to reach out to graduates in this critical moment and let them know they have a lifelong connection to our alma mater through the UH Alumni Association. And, of course, the Chancellor gave alumni pins to each and every one of these new graduates as a reminder.
In recognition of Chancellor Hinshaw’s service and accomplishments these past five years, members of the community are working with the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation to raise money for scholarships in honor of the Chancellor. Thanks to an outpouring of support from the community and a generous gift from the Chancellor and her husband, more than $140,000 has been raised so far – enough to endow four Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw Scholarships that will be awarded annually in perpetuity to benefit students in four academic areas: Native Hawaiian music, sustainability, scholar athletes, and biomedical research. We continue to receive gifts as her time as Chancellor draws to a close and each of those gifts will help provide even more financial support for students in these fields of study. What a wonderful addition to the Chancellor’s legacy to UH Mānoa!
The University of Hawaiʻi Alumni Association is forever grateful to Chancellor Hinshaw for her support of our organization and all alumni. Tonight we honor her for bringing prominence to those of us who have attended this great university, and for believing in the difference we make as alumni. On behalf of all who wear their pins with great honor and pride, I offer this UH Alumni Association President’s award, and a warm MAHALO, to Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw.