UH Board of Regents approves naming of UH Manoa School of Social Work for Myron "Pinky" Thompson

BOR also approves The W.M. Keck Research Lab in Astrochemistry and the Hon Kau and Alice Lee Endowed Faculty Fellowship at the Shidler College of Business

University of Hawaiʻi
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-8109
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Sep 19, 2008

HILO, Hawaiʻi — At its monthly meeting held today at Hawaiʻi Community College, the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents approved a recommendation to name the School of Social Work at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa after one of its most distinguished alumni, Myron "Pinky" Thompson. The Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work will now be identified with one of Hawaiʻi‘s most important leaders, a visionary who achieved many things during his long and prestigious career, but who was first and foremost a social worker devoted to improving the health, education and well-being of Native Hawaiians and all people of Hawaiʻi.

"It is truly an honor for our school to share his name and to be able to identify with such an extraordinary citizen of Hawaiʻi who was a champion of social justice and the perpetuation of Hawaiian culture," said School of Social Work Dean Jon Matsuoka. "Mr. Thompson was a highly principled, wise and compassionate person who continues to inspire those who knew him and whose legacy will inspire generations to follow."

Thompson passed away in 2001, leaving the people of Hawaiʻi a very important legacy. He received his master of social work degree from UH Mānoa in 1953, and began his long career in the trenches of social work at the Salvation Army Children‘s Residential home, working with emotionally-disturbed children.

He became executive director of the Queen Liliuʻokalani Trust, where he used traditional Hawaiian healing practices and validated hoʻoponopono as a way of responding to cultural problems. Much of the mental health practices that evolved from his leadership at the current Queen Liliuʻokalani Children‘s Center is now common practice and taught today at the School of Social Work within its baccalaureate and graduate programs.

Thompson co-founded Alu Like, a nonprofit social service agency dedicated to Native Hawaiians, and obtained federal funding for the agency for job training, housing, welfare and education. He went on to play a vital role in the establishment of the Native Hawaiian Health Care system, and served as executive director of the Hawaiʻi Department of Social Services from 1970-1974. He became a trustee for Bishop Estate in 1974 and served in the role for 20 years.

The naming of the school in his honor has received overwhelming support from numerous individuals and community organizations, including U.S. Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, the Hawaiʻi State Legislature, Alu Like, Inc., Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kamehameha Schools, Papa Ola Lokahi, Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, and the National Association of Social Workers. His widow, Laura Thompson, has also given her blessing and support in naming the school after her late husband.

In other action, the BOR approved designation of existing space in Bilger Hall at UH Mānoa as the W.M. Keck Research Laboratory in Astrochemistry, in recognition of the $1.2 million grant received from the W.M. Keck Foundation. The laboratory will house one of the most advanced research equipments in the world in the field of astrochemistry and will help build interdisciplinary research among UH Mānoa‘s internationally renowned scientists in the College of Natural Sciences, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, and Institute for Astronomy.

The BOR also approved the establishment of a faculty fellowship in the UH Mānoa Shidler College of Business named the Hon Kau and Alice Lee Endowed Faculty Fellowship. The UH Foundation has received a pledge for a gift totaling $125,000 from alumna Shirley M. Lee to endow a faculty fellowship in the Shidler College of Business named in honor of her parents.

Her $125,000 pledge will be matched by funds from Shidler‘s Matching Gift Funds, increasing the total value to $250,000. Faculty endowments such as this are important in improving the quality of education as they allow the college to attract and retain world-class faculty. Lee received both her bachelor‘s and MBA degrees from UH Mānoa.