What does the University of Hawai‘i Foundation do

Published on May 13, 2016.

Noelle Fujii, Editor-in-Chief

Victor Ong, News Editor 

When you receive a scholarship from the university, it most likely was coordinated by the University of Hawai‘i Foundation (UHF), which is charged with overseeing all private gifts.

The Board of Regents (BOR) has a contract with the 61-year-old foundation to be the sole provider of fundraising and alumni services, and a board of trustees oversees the nonprofit. According to Margot Schrire, UHF director of communications, this is a best practice model among large public universities and university systems.

Giving gifts

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, the foundation raised nearly $130 million, with most gifts being designated towards student aid.

Donors can give to existing funds or create new ones, and all gifts are used according to donors’ wishes. Almost all gifts are restricted by donors for specific purposes.

“UHF has processes and policies in place to ensure that expenditures from donor funds are consistent with the donor’s intent, are properly documented and are approved,” Schrire said in an email. “That gives donors peace of mind as they know that their gifts are being used wisely and as intended.”

A five percent administrative fee is taken from all gifts. This helps UHF with having expertise on staff and infrastructure to invest and manage funds raised, in addition to disbursing the funds according to donors’ wishes, Schrire said.

“In today’s market most public and private financial service entities and foundations, especially those without a large endowment, charge a service fee to assist with administrative costs such as audits, financial and investment management, software and system security programs, etc.,” she said. “UHF disburses more than $40 million a year to UH as designated to support students, programs, faculty and research. Most of our donors know that it takes money, time, and qualified professionals to raise and manage private funds for the benefit of UH.”

In 2015, UH Foundation raised nearly $130 million, with most of the money going towards student aid. (Noelle Fujii/Ka Leo)

Why not UHF?

Disability Studies instructor Brian Kajiyama’s Heart of a Warrior Scholarship was set up in 2015 by former football coach Jeff Reinebold under the June Jones Foundation and is completely independent from the university, though the recipient has to commit to attend UH Mānoa.

“I think we chose not to go through the university to have more freedom,” he said.

Since the scholarship has his name on it, Kajiyama wanted to be involved with the selection of the recipient, to whom he would be a mentor.

According to UHF’s website, scholarship donors can specify base criteria to be used when selecting the recipient, and university representatives from the appropriate departments will use that criteria.

Central Union Church also administers scholarships to local students pursuing higher education or other specialized training after high school. Ruth Stepulis, Central Union Church Women’s League president, said the church chose not to administer its scholarships through the university foundation because they don’t want to limit them to recipients attending one university.

How does the foundation compare to others?

While there is a mix of nonprofit foundations and internal offices charged with fundraising among UH Mānoa’s peer institutions, Jennifer Kemp, community operations manager for the University of New Mexico Foundation, said there is no “one size fits all” model to how higher education foundations are supported or function. Generally there are three types: dependent, interdependent, and completely independent.

“The model or structure that an institution and/or foundation uses depends on numerous factors including (but not limited to) the institution’s resources, endowment size, university size, institution’s history, mission, etc,” she said in an email. “Additionally, even though an institution selects one model, that model could evolve as the institution evolves and factors change.”

This table shows how UH Foundation compares to some of UH Mānoa’s peer institutions. (Noelle Fujii/ Ka Leo)


UHF funding

In addition to the five percent assessment fee taken from gifts, the foundation receives funding from the university, which can provide $3 million a year for fundraising and alumni-related services — this cap is governed by state statute.

“This equates to about 20 percent of our budget so having an administrative service fee is key to our ability to fund core operations,” Schrire said.

The foundation also receives funding from an annual assessment on the market value of its endowment — the amount is determined each year — and interest on its short-term investments, according to its website.

View story at Medium.com


New ramp in Andrews Amphitheater provides increased accessibility

Clarification issued on May 2 at 9:55 a.m.: The print version of this article did not specify that COE Convocation Coordinator Aaron Levine said the last quote.

Wheelchair users can now access the Andrews Amphitheater’s stage thanks to efforts by the College of Education (COE) and the campus facilities office.

“I’m thrilled that this has happened,” said COE Convocation Coordinator Aaron Levine in a phone interview. “My understanding is there’s never been access to the stage at Andrews, and it’s been on campus for a long, long time, so this is, I think, an important milestone in Mānoa’s move to provide accessible venues for our students and families and faculty.”

A new ramp in the Diamond Head-mauka corner of the amphitheater connects the back area to the stage – an area COE Instructor Brian Kajiyama, who uses a wheelchair, hadn’t been able to access before. Previously, the only areas designated for wheelchair users were in the alcoves along the back of the raised seating area, leaving no way for a participant to access the stage or grass area.

Because of this, Kajiyama couldn’t always see his students after the COE’s yearly convocation event.

“I had to ask a peer to tell them to come up to see me, or there were times I was there but couldn’t tell them,” he said. “So I would get messages saying ‘I was hoping to see you at convocation,’ and I would explain: ‘I was there but I couldn’t come see you.’”

According to Levine, Andrews Amphitheater was chosen for the college’s event five or six years ago because it could accommodate more than 1,000 people. Each year, he received inquiries from people asking how they could access the event, including some from Kajiyama.

The ramp is a temporary fix and while there is no set date for it to be taken down, UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said it will likely happen over summer. In the meantime, facilities is looking at permanent solutions, though Meisenzahl is unsure of where it is on the priority list, especially since there are other ADA-compliant venues available, like Kennedy Theatre and Orvis Auditorium.

For now, this fix comes just in time for the college’s upcoming convocation on May 13.

“Andrews is just a gorgeous venue – very unique on the Mānoa campus. It also has historic significance, if you’ve ever been there at sunset, it’s just breathtaking,” Levine said. “So to provide all people with an opportunity to have access to that venue is really important.”


This article was published in the May 2, 2016 issue.