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Statement from UH President David McClain on the passing of Dr. Donnis Thompson

University of Hawaiʻi
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-8109
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Feb 3, 2009

The University of Hawaiʻi community and the State of Hawaiʻi have lost a dedicated educator, beloved coach and steadfast champion and pioneer for women athletes with the passing of Dr. Donnis Thompson.

Dr. Thompson resoundingly broke through the glass ceiling for women in Hawaiʻi. As UH‘s first women‘s track and field coach, first women‘s athletics director, and Hawaiʻi‘s first woman Superintendent of Education, she was a beacon of hope and pride for all the exceptional women leaders of our state who would come after her.

Dr. Thompson has had a powerful and life-changing impact on the generations of Rainbow Wahine athletes and the thousands of fans who have come to enjoy the tradition that is Rainbow Wahine sports. Beyond the sports arena, her efforts to improve the quality of education in the State of Hawaiʻi, and especially to ensure access and services for underserved populations, were truly exceptional.

In October 2007, the University celebrated Thompson‘s accomplishments with the unveiling and dedication of a sculpture of her that stands at the Stan Sheriff Arena. On that occasion Dr. Thompson remarked, "Women‘s athletics could always be an outstanding diamond in our whole program. But it was a matter of convincing a lot of people that that dream could be a reality."

Dr. Donnis Thompson herself was that diamond. Women athletes for years to come have her to thank for making their dreams a reality.

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