UHAA to honor Distinguished Alumni

April 26th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in UHAA Events, UHAA News  |  1 Comment

five smiling portraits

Wesley Fong, David Lassner, Ashok Kumar Malhotra, Virginia Pressler, Patricia Fukuda Saiki

The University of Hawaiʻi Alumni Association will present Distinguished Alumni Awards to four alumni and recognize the UH Founders Alumni Association Lifetime Achievement Award honoree May 11, 2010 at the Sheraton Waikīkī. For information about the dinner and silent auction, visit www.UHalumni.org/daa2010.

2010 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Wesley Fong (BA in political science ’65 Mānoa) is a retired attorney who teaches in the UH Mānoa School of Travel Industry Management. Fong served as deputy attorney general for Hawaiʻi, deputy corporation counsel for Honolulu and staff counsel for Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company.

Fong is a decorated Vietnam veteran and retired Army colonel. He has been active in numerous community organizations, currently serving as vice chair of his neighborhood board, president of Mun Lun Chinese Language School and a director of Catholic Charities Hawaiʻi. He received the national Jefferson Award for Public Service and the Organization of Chinese Americans award for community service.

David Lassner (PhD in communication and information sciences ’98 Mānoa) is vice president for information technology and chief information officer for the 10-campus University of Hawaiʻi System. Working in UH technical and management positions since 1977, he created the university’s integrated systemwide information technology support organization. He has secured more than $270 million in contracts and grants and taught in several departments.

Lassner chaired or served on the boards of the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications, Internet2 consortium, EDUCAUSE, Pacific Telecommunications Council and Kuali Foundation. Locally, he served on the Hawaiʻi Public Television and High Technology Development Corporation boards and chaired the Hawaiʻi Broadband Task Force.

Ashok Kumar Malhotra (PhD in philosophy ’69 Mānoa) is a distinguished teaching professor of philosophy at the State University of New York at Oneonta and a 2010 Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

Malhotra established the SUNY Oneonta Learn-and-Serve study abroad program in India and has led 17 groups of students, faculty and community members on missions to feed the poor, assist in medical clinics and build schools in remote villages. Funding for the schools comes from Malhotra’s Ninash Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 1996 in honor of his late wife, Nina.

He has served on the SUNY Press editorial board and National Endowment for the Humanities board and authored 12 books. He has endowed four annual Seva (Sanskrit for “compassionate service”) Awards at the University of Hawaiʻi and SUNY Oneonta.

Virginia Pressler (MBA ’75, MS in physiology ’81, MD ’82 Mānoa) is executive vice president and chief strategic officer for Hawaiʻi Pacific Health. She served as deputy director of the state Department of Health, president and CEO of Queen’s/HMSA Premier Plan, vice president at The Queen’s Medical Center, director of surgical education at The Queen’s Health Systems and associate professor of surgery at the University of Hawaiʻi John A. Burns School of Medicine. She has also maintained a private surgical practice.

Involved with the American Cancer Society for more than 20 years, she was president of the Hawaiʻi Pacific Division and a national assembly delegate. She chairs the Chamber of Commerce Health Committee and initiated the Tobacco Trust Fund, Healthy Hawaiʻi initiative, Hawaiʻi Uninsured Project and Hawaiʻi Comprehensive Cancer Control Program.

UH Founders Alumni Association Lifetime Achievement Award

Patricia Fukuda Saiki (BS ’52 Mānoa) is a former U.S. congresswoman. A teacher, union organizer and legislative research assistant, Saiki served as secretary, vice chair and chair of the state Republican Party. First elected to the state House of Representatives in 1968, she served as a state senator 1974–82 and was Hawaiʻi’s first post-statehood Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives 1987–91.

As administrator of the Small Business Administration, she was the first Asian American to lead a federal agency. She taught at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics before returning to Hawaiʻi to become the first woman to run for Hawaiʻi governor on a major party ticket.

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  1. Cheryl Ernst says:

    October 1st, 2010at 4:46 pm(#)

    Additional congratulations to Virginia Pressler, winner of the Business Leadership Hawaiʻi 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award.