UH Hilo Press Release

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Date: Monday, February 16, 2004
Contact: Dr. Rose Tseng, (808) 974-744; Paula Thomas, (808) 933-3112

For Immediate Release

UH Hilo receives largest private gift ever donated to UH system

Dr. Rose Y. Tseng, chancellor of the University of Hawaii at Hilo , today announced that UH Hilo has received a commitment for a $2.4 million cash gift from Alec and Kay Keith of Hilo to establish an endowed scholarship fund for graduates of Hawai`i and Pacific Island high school students. The gift is the largest private donation ever made to any institution in the University of Hawai`i system by an individual.

“This gift exemplifies philanthropy at its best,” said Tseng. “A college education can make all the difference in the world in the life of an individual. We will now have resources to offer scholarships to many more students than ever before.

“UH Hilo is a gateway institution bringing many first generation students into higher education. This endowed scholarship fund will touch the lives of a significant number of students from families on the Big Island and throughout the state.”

The DxRx VIVA, Inc. Endowed Scholarship Fund is designed to provide educational opportunities for Hawai`i and Pacific Island students who show great academic promise but have difficulty paying their education bills.

“Kay and I appreciate just how necessary and important scholarships are,” Dr. Keith said. “A student who works hard, shows potential and wants to go to college should not lose that opportunity because of financial considerations.”

Keith has compiled a distinguished career as a professor at several prominent universities, including the University of California at Berkeley and The Pennsylvania State University, and is a research scientist with over 100 patents. Keith is also entrepreneurial and served as chair of Watson Pharmaceuticals. He currrently serves on the UH Hilo Advisory Board and is an affiliate faculty member of the UH Hilo Chemistry Department.

“We believe one of the best ways to improve the overall quality of life is to help the university fulfill its potential,” Keith said. “Hopefully, our gift will encourage others to do likewise.”

“Private giving and philanthropic leadership gifts, like the Keith’s gift, have the power to shape the future of the University of Hawai`i,” commented Betsy Sloane, president of the UH Foundation. “For any major university – public or private – private giving is the engine of growth. This has never been truer than today, as state governments are finding it difficult to maintain, let alone, increase their funding of public higher education.”

“UH Hilo and the community it serves is extremely fortunate to have such dedicated friends and supporters as Alec and Kay Keith,” Tseng said. “The generosity and leadership they have shown will go a long way toward helping us become the Pacific’s premier public comprehensive university.”

The scholarships will be administered by the UH Hilo Financial Aid Office as part of the financial aid application process.

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