Statement from UH President David McClain on the passing of Emeritus Regent Ah Quon McElrath

University of Hawaiʻi
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-8109
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Dec 12, 2008

"It is with heartfelt sadness that the University of Hawaiʻi community mourns the passing of alumna and Emeritus Regent Ah Quon McElrath.

"An esteemed labor activist and social worker, she fervently served as a member of the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents from 1995 to 2003. While she was renowned as a labor union pioneer, fighting for the rights of individual workers as a key architect in the early years of Hawaiʻi‘s labor movement and continuing as a social activist throughout her lifetime, Ah Quon exhibited the same passion and energy as an advocate for education, which she once described as a ʻwindow to the world‘.

"Though small in stature, she was a feisty and resounding voice for students and faculty while serving on the board. Much of her tenure was spent chairing the Academic Affairs Committee, which she headed from 1998-2002. She also served twice as chair of the Committee on Student Affairs. In 2004, she was honored with the UH Founders Alumni Association Lifetime Achievement Award for her leadership in advocating social change in education and improving social conditions throughout Hawaiʻi.

"We are extremely proud to count her among our distinguished alumni, having earned her bachelor‘s degrees in sociology and anthropology from UH in 1938. She is also credited with helping to create UH Mānoa‘s Ethnic Studies program, which established the Ah Quon McElrath Fund for Social Change to honor and support her service and contributions to the state. The fund supports student engagement through conferences, publications and internships.

"The University of Hawaiʻi has benefited tremendously from her guidance, leadership, advocacy and spirit. We are extremely grateful for having been witness to her passion and dedication, and truly honored to be part of her legacy."