Taniguchi to deliver UH Hilo fall commencement keynote

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
Alyson Kakugawa-leong, (808) 932-7669
Dir, Media Rel, University Relations
Posted: Dec 9, 2014

Barry Taniguchi, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of KTA Super Stores and K. Taniguchi, Ltd., is the keynote speaker at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Fall Commencement on Saturday, December 20 at 9 a.m. in Vulcan Gym.

Students have petitioned for a total of 290 degrees and/or certificates from the colleges of Arts and Sciences (204), Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (28), Business and Economics (30), and Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikolani College of Hawaiian Language (12), while 16 others are candidates for various post-graduate honors.

Taniguchi assumed his present position in February 2014 after serving as president and CEO since 1989. He has been a director since 1973 for the chain of Hawaiʻi Island family grocery stores established in 1916 by his grandparents Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi.

A prominent member of the business community, Taniguchi serves on the Board of Directors for Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc., American Savings Bank, FSB and Valley Isle Produce, Inc. He is also active in the Chamber of Commerce of Hawai’i, Hawai’i Island, Portuguese, and Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawai’i, and Hawai’i Island Economic Development Board. 

Under his leadership, KTA Super Stores and K. Taniguchi, Ltd. have been strong supporters of UH Hilo. Initiatives include the Taniguchi Memorial Fund, which established endowments for the five degree-granting colleges to provide a permanent source of funds to enhance each college’s recruitment and retention of faculty. He also created the Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation, which recognizes creativity in teaching, scholarship and artistic production at UH Hilo.

His monetary contributions are matched, if not exceeded, by his generous donation of time to various UH Hilo endeavors. Taniguchi served 12 years on the Mauna Kea Management Board beginning in 2000, including the last five years as chair, and is a past member of the UH Hilo Chancellor’s Advisory Committee. 

Taniguchi’s contributions, however, extend beyond the University to the community-at-large, where he is known as a passionate advocate for giving back through his involvement in numerous service organizations.

Taniguchi also has held virtually every volunteer leadership position with the Hawai’i Island United Way from treasurer to annual campaign director, worked on two capital campaigns for Hospice of Hilo, and has served as a member, chair or director with numerous other organizations, including The Hawai’i Island Food Basket, Boys and Girls Club of Hilo, Business Education Partnership, Rotary Club of Hilo Bay, and the Hilo and Waiakea High School Foundation Board of Trustees. 

His list of awards and recognition includes: the University of Hawai’i Outstanding Alumnus in 2004, the UH Hilo Alumni and Friends Distinguished Service Award in 2005, and the Hilo High School Foundation Alumnus of the Year in 2007. He has also been inducted into the respective Halls of Fame/Honor for the UH College of Business Administration, Hawai’i Society of CPAs, and Junior Achievement.

Evan Matsuyama, a History major, serves as student speaker. Matsuyama was born and raised in Kailua-Kona, and graduated with honors from Kealakehe High School in Spring 2011. 

He entered UH Hilo in Spring 2013 after graduating with honors from Hawai’i Community College with an Associate of Arts degree in Fall 2012. Since his arrival, Matsuyama has earned a lengthy list of academic honors while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. He has made the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s List four times and successfully defended his history senior thesis paper entitled, “American Samurai – An Inheritance of Honor: A Historical and Cultural Analysis of the Japanese American Warriors of World War II” in Spring 2014. Matsuyama is also a member of Phi Alpha Theta, and president of the UH Hilo History Club.