UH Hilo graduate and former faculty member gives back to geography department

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
Margot Schrire, (808) 956-6774
Director of Communications
Posted: Jun 5, 2008

HILO, Hawaii — Throughout his time as a student at UH Hilo from 1977-1980, Ron Terry pulled weeds at anthurium farms to pay his tuition. As the first member of his family to attend college, he appreciated attending a smaller school, even staying for a time in the home of a faculty member. But the fledgling geography department offered opportunities for sophisticated research on Mauna Kea and the surrounding forests, "the sort of work thatis typically reserved for graduate students," said Terry. "Walk out the door and you‘re in a living lab."

Today, Terry is a successful businessman, the founder of Geometrician Associates in Hilo, a business consulting firm that conducts environmental impact assessments. He has established a $25,000 endowed scholarship at UH Hilo and named it the GeographyFounders Scholarship in honor of the department‘s founders: Drs. Jim and Sonia Juvik, Dr. Jim Kelly and the late Dr. Jack Healy. Terry is challenging other geography graduates to join him in supporting the scholarship through additional donations, to benefit students who are in need of financial assistance in the geography department.

"The geography department at UH Hilo gave me the basis for becoming a successful professional. What I am giving back is only a small proportion of the added value I received at UH Hilo," said Terry.

At the urging of his instructors, Terry went on to graduate school at Louisiana State University, where he earned his master‘s degree and a PhD in geography. He joined the UH Hilo faculty in 1987 and taught geography until 1992, when he began his consulting work.

Dr. Healy started a "geography discipline" in the late 1960s when a UH Hilo history professor saw a need for a geography focus. Jim and Sonia Juvik came on board to teach geography in 1971 and Dr. Kelly was hired in 1975. "The quality of the faculty was unmatched," said Terry.

Today, between 400 and 500 UH Hilo students enroll in a geography class every semester, and the department graduates 10 to 15 students every year.

"We are very honored Ron Terry has established this important scholarship," said UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng. "About 30 percent of our students come from families with very limited resources and nearly 70 percent are the first in their families to attend college. This generous contribution will help lessen the burden of debt with which so many UH Hilo students graduate, while honoring the visionary founders of one of our stellar programs."

The University of Hawaiʻi Hilo is a comprehensive university with six undergraduate colleges, six Master‘s programs and two doctoral programs. Enrollment has doubled since 1980 to more than 3,600 students coming from all fifty states and more than 40 countries.

The University of Hawaiʻi Foundation is an independent, university-related, nonprofit organization whose purpose is to raise private funds according to priorities determined by the academic leadership of the University of Hawaiʻi and approved by the Board of Regents. Founded in 1955, the Foundation provides a full range of fund raising and alumni relations services for all 10 UH campuses.

The Centennial Campaign is an historic private fundraising initiative to raise $250 million to support the University of Hawaiʻi‘s commitment to our students, our community and our world. For more information about the Centennial Campaign, pleasevisit www.uhf.hawaii.edu.

For more information, visit: http://www.uhf.hawaii.edu