Regents’ Medals of Distinction
The Regents’ Medal of Distinction is awarded by the Board of Regents 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.
UH Executive Policy PDF on awarding of medals of distinction.
- William Kwai-Fong Yap, higher education advocate and benefactor
- Winona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha Beamer, kumu hula, educator, author, composer and entertainer
- Alice Augusta Ball, pioneering chemist
- Abraham Piianaia, Hawaiian cultural expert
- Eliot Deutsch, philosophy scholar
- Noel P. Kefford, former College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources dean and author of the Industry Analysis System
- George Chaplin, editor-in-chief of the Honolulu Advertiser for 26 years and honored by three nations for promoting better understanding between countries
- Elmo Hardy, evolutionary biologist and world authority on big-headed flies important in agro-ecosystems
- Hiroshi Tanaka, community advocate and education proponent instrumental in the development of UH Hilo
- Mamoru Yamasaki, a staunch supporter of higher education during 33 years as a legislator
- Wood Zimmerman, renowned entomologist on Oahu and a union activist on Maui
- Gerald Sass, Freedom Forum executive supporting Asian studies fellowships at the University of Hawaii
- Ernest Akamine, a UH plant physiologist who laid the foundation for handling tropical crops developed in Hawaii
- Mackay Yanagisawa, the "shogun of Hawaii sports," a player, coach, manager, club owner and creator of the Hula Bowl Classic
- Maya Angelou, a writer, educator, humanitarian and social activist hailed as one of the great figures in contemporary literature
Presented posthoumsly, December 2008 UH Manoa commencement ceremonies
A prominent Hawaii educator, author, composer and entertainer, Winona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha Beamer
Winona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha Beamer taught hula for 30 years and was an expert in Hawaiian puppetry and storytelling. She classified hundreds of distinct ancient hula types. Author ofseveral books, tapes and CD’s, she was the first person to apply Labanotation, a method for recording dance movement to hula.
In the 1950s she originated the first luau show in Waikiki at the Queen’s Surf. Among the many songs she composed was well-known Hawaiian lullaby Pupu Hinuhinu.
Beamer taught at Kamehameha Schools for 40 years. She originated the term “Hawaiiana” in 1948, championed integration of Hawaiian values into the curriculum and is credited with Kamehameha Schools’ implementation of Nohona Hawaii, a term that means “a living Hawaiian culture” or “a Hawaiian way of life.”
Beamer received numerous awards and honors from local organizations for her contributions to the arts and education, including lifetime achievement awards from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts, Prince Kuhio Hawaiian Civic Club and the Hawaii Alliance for Arts Education.
The medal was presented to Kumu Beamer’s son Kapono Beamer and grandson Kamana Beamer, who received his PhD in geography earlier in the ceremony.