Returning the favor

January 9th, 2009  |  by  |  Published in UHAA News

Ron Terry
Ron Terry, BA in geography ’80 Hilo

Roots: San Diego
Family: Wife; two daughters, one at Hilo High
Career: Environmental consultant

Hobbies: Surfing, guitar, bicycling, reading

Heroes: Activist Nelson Mandela and James Juvik, chair of the UH Hilo Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
Favorite UH memories: Fieldwork from the rainforests of the Kohala Mountains to the summit of Mauna Kea to the stark lava flows of Mauna Loa. “It was all our classroom…as long as we didn’t mind trekking.”
Latest honor: UH Hilo Alumni and Friends Distinguished Alumni Award, to be presented Feb. 27, 2009.

From a young age, Ron Terry felt a connection to Hawaiʻi.

After graduating from high school, he moved to Kona and Kaʻū, where he took a UH extension class at the old mill at Honuʻapo from Aunty Edith Kanakaole. The hands-on learning approach and personal attention encouraged him to move to Hilo where he enrolled at UH.

After taking a few geography classes, he told a some of the professors that he had registered as a geography major. “They smiled and promptly gave me a little desk and chair in their lab! I felt like such a member of the family,” he recalls.

Terry went on to earn a doctorate from Louisiana State University and work as a professor of geography at UH Hilo before founding Geometrician Associates, a business consulting firm based on the Big Island that specializes in environmental impact assessments.

The self-proclaimed nature lover volunteers on the state’s Marine and Coastal Zone Management Advocacy Council and the Mauna Kea Management Board and undertakes pro-bono community projects.

In 2008 he decided to do even more. “I was blessed and transformed by the education I received at UH, and I feel it is my obligation and honor to give back to the school and community that so generously assisted me,” he says.

Terry established the Geography Founders Scholarship at UH Hilo, a $25,000 endowed scholarship named to honor the department founders—James and Sonia Juvik, Jim Kelly and Jack Healy.

I wanted especially to honor the individuals most directly responsible—the four professors who built the department and stayed with it for more than 20–35 years each, sacrificing job offers with better pay to work nights, weekends and summers for their students.”

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