Posthumous Regents' Medal of Distinction to be awarded to Hawai‘i educator and composer Nona Beamer

Board of Regents also approves faculty fellowships and endowments in the names of philanthropist Barbara Cox Anthony and Hawaiʻi CPA firms Accuity LLP

University of Hawaiʻi
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-8109
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Oct 24, 2008

KAHULUI, Maui, Hawaiʻi — At its monthly meeting held this week at Maui Community College, the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents (BOR) voted to award a posthumous Regents‘ Medal of Distinction upon the late Winona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha Beamer, known throughout Hawaiʻi as "Aunty Nona," for her many contributions in music, education, civic responsibility, and the perpetuation of Native Hawaiian culture.

The Regents‘ Medal of Distinction is awarded by the BOR to individuals of exceptional accomplishment and distinction who have made significant contributions to the university, state, region or nation, or within their field of endeavor.

Beamer was an educator, composer, performer, storyteller, and kumu hula. She was a woman of many firsts. In 1949, she was the first to record hula using Labanotation, a method for recording movement, which was documented by the Library of Congress. In the 1950s, she originated the first luau show in Waikīkī at the Queen‘s Surf, and in 1958, she was the first to classify hundreds of distinct ancient hula types.

Beamer taught hula for 30 years, and authored several books, tapes and CDs. She was a recognized master in hula kahiko, Hawaiian puppetry and Hawaiian storytelling. She composed many songs, including "Pupu Hinuhinu," which is one of the best-known Hawaiian lullabies.

As an educator, Beamer taught at Kamehameha Schools for 40 years. Having originated the term "Hawaiiana" in 1948, she championed the integration of Hawaiian values into the curriculum, and is credited with Kamehameha Schools‘ implementation of Nohona Hawaiʻi, a term that means "a living Hawaiian culture" or "a Hawaiian way of life." When school trustees threatened to dismantle the curriculum in 1997, Beamer‘s letter to the State Supreme Court served as a catalyst for the removal of the trustees and major reform at the school.

Beamer received numerous awards and honors from local organizations for her contributions to the arts and education, including lifetime achievement awards from the Hawaiʻi Academy of Recording Arts, the Prince Kuhio Hawaiian Civic Club, and the Hawaiʻi Alliance for Arts Education.

In other action, the BOR voted to approve the establishment of the Barbara Cox Anthony Chair in Aging at UH Mānoa and the Accuity LLP Accounting Faculty Fellowship Endowment in the Shidler College of Business at UH Mānoa. Both positions will play important roles in helping to recruit and retain faculty of the highest caliber in those fields.

A renowned philanthropist who passed away in 2007, Anthony had been principal owner of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises, which owned 17 daily newspapers, 80 radio stations and 15 television stations at that time. She supported many local, as well as national, non-profits and was a director and founder of La Pietra-Hawaiʻi School for Girls and served on the board of Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy. The UH Foundation has received a gift with a fair market value, as of the date of the gift, of $2 million from an anonymous donor, to endow the Barbara Cox Anthony Chair in Aging in the Center on Aging.

The UH Foundation has also received a pledge for a gift totaling $100,000 from Accuity LLP for the Accuity LLP Accounting Faculty Fellowship Endowment at the Shidler College of Business, which was matched one-to-one through Shidler‘s Matching Gift Program to total $200,000. Accuity LLP is one of the largest full service CPA firms in Hawaiʻi and employs a multitude of UH alumni. The faculty fellowship endowment represents a deep and long term commitment that the firm and its founders have to the pursuit of excellence in education, and will help to attract, recruit and retain accounting faculty of the highest caliber.