Second largest gift in history to Lyon Arboretum

University of Hawaiʻi
Margot Schrire, (808) 956-6774
Director of Communications, University of Hawaii Foundation
Posted: Mar 30, 2010

HONOLULU – Robert L. Cushing, former University of Hawai‘i regent (1967-74) and former head of the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association, recognized the significance of the Lyon Arboretum at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. As part of his legacy, in 1999 he made a $100,000 gift to support Lyon's enrichment fund. In honor of her father, Robert Cushing, Susan Chamberlin, and her husband Steve Chamberlin, have added $200,000 to his endowed fund, the Robert L. Cushing Endowment. This is the largest private gift to Lyon Arboretum since Harold Lyon's historic gift, which now amounts to close to $1.2 million.
"Gifts such as this, which supplement our established endowed funds, go a long way to positioning the Lyon Arboretum for financial strength and independence by assuring a reliable and predictable income stream," said Christopher P. Dunn, director of the Harold L. Lyon Arboretum. "This allows us to strengthen existing programs and to be nimble in response to changing strategic priorities."
Susan and Steve Chamberlin both grew up in Mānoa. Susan spent time in upstate New York before her family moved to Hawai‘i. She graduated from Roosevelt High School, earned her B. Architecture degree from Cornell University, and attended UC Berkeley where she earned her MBA.
“My father made his gift because he admired and respected Harold Lyon and because Hawaiian agriculture was so essential to his working life here," said Susan Chamberlin. "It seemed important to me to acknowledge the continued importance of the botanical world in Hawai‘i,” she continued. “ Having our family foundation gives us the opportunity to make gifts that are meaningful in size and scope. I also wanted to acknowledge the stability and renewed interest in the Arboretum under Christopher Dunn’s leadership; most people who are philanthropic must feel inspired by the leadership in order to give.”
Steve Chamberlin is a UH business school alumnus (BBA 1967 Real Estate and Marketing) and has enjoyed a successful career in real estate in Philadelphia and the San Francisco bay area. Over the years he has retained his relationship with the UH Mānoa business school and this semester, along with local investor Sanford Murata, he is teaching a graduate class on real estate at the Shidler College of Business.
The Harold L. Lyon Arboretum is a 193 acre tropical rainforest located in the head of the Mānoa Valley and is open to the public. Its mission is to increase the appreciation of the unique flora of Hawai‘i and the tropics, by conserving, curating, and studying plants and their habitats; providing educational opportunities; encouraging use by the broader community; and supporting the educational, scientific, and service activities of the University of Hawai‘i.
Contributions to the Harold L. Lyon Arboretum can be made online at or please contact Emily Fay, UH Mānoa gift officer at (808) 956-5665 or e-mail
The University of Hawai‘i Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawai‘i System. Our mission is to unite our donors’ passions with the University of Hawai‘i's aspirations to benefit the people of Hawai‘i and beyond. We do this by raising private philanthropic support, managing private investments and nurturing donor and alumni relationships.
The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa serves approximately 20,000 students pursuing more than 225 different degrees. Coming from every Hawaiian island, every state in the nation, and more than 100 countries, UH Mānoa students matriculate in an enriching environment for the global exchange of ideas. For more information, visit