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A number of the University of Hawaiʻi’s most respected educators, researchers, graduates and supporters passed in 2023. Here are their In Memoriam stories, in reverse chronological order. Each one of them had a profound impact on the university, Hawaiʻi and the world.

person with a headsetFormer UH football coach Bob Wagner
Wagner became UH’s 19th head coach in 1987 after serving 10 years as a defensive assistant. The two-time WAC coach of the year finished his career with 58 career wins, including an impressive 7-3 record against Big 10 and Pac 10 opponents.

Murli ManghnaniMurli Manghnani, discovered properties of liquids in Earth’s core
Manghnani’s work at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics and Planetology provided a fundamental understanding of the properties of small planetary cores, including liquids of Earth’s core. He focused his career on high-pressure mineral physics research.

Ryuzo YanagimachiRyuzo Yanagimachi, cloning, fertilization pioneer
Yanagimachi’s pioneering contributions to reproductive biology and cloning have impacted millions of people. In addition to his in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection achievements, in 1997 Yanagimachi cloned the world’s first mouse.

Virginia Weinman thumbVirginia Weinman, philanthropic champion of UH medicine, research
As president of the Weinman Foundation, Virginia, and her husband Barry, paved the way for medical student education while simultaneously giving JABSOM leadership the financial freedom to carry out their visions for the medical school.

Gary Varner thumbGary Varner, honored physicist, educator
Throughout Varner’s career, he made significant and critical contributions to physics experiments worldwide including the DUMAND Neutrino Studies, Belle and Belle II at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization in Japan, and the Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna at the South Pole.

person smilingPan-STARRS pioneer, trailblazing astronomer Nick Kaiser
Among his many contributions, Kaiser made the first calculation of the polarization of the cosmic microwave background in 1983, showing that the leftover radiation from the Big Bang is distorted slightly as it passes through density fluctuations.

Jimmy Yagi headshotJimmy Yagi, the father of small college basketball in Hawaiʻi
Yagi was inducted into the inaugural UH Hilo Athletics Hall of Fame and is also a member of the Big Island Sports Hall of Fame. He remains the winningest men’s basketball head coach (against college teams) in UH Hilo history with a 218-87 record

person headshotFormer regent, UH alumna, communications professional Kitty Yannone
Yannone served for six years on the UH Board of Regents, including two as chair and two as vice chair. During her leadership, the board voted to move forward with the development of the UH West Oʻahu campus and the UH Hilo College of Pharmacy, among other important decisions.

two men talkingLoren Kroenke, ‘iron man of UH expeditionary marine research’
Kroenke focused his research activities on understanding Pacific Plate motion, hot spot volcanism, and the formation and history of the Ontong Java Plateau, a massive oceanic plateau that represents the largest volcanic event of the past 200 million years.

andres albano jr. thumbAndres Albano, Jr., former BOR vice chair, local real estate legend
Supporting his belief in the power of education, he served on the Board of Regents from 2004 to 2013. He was elected vice chairman 2007–08 and was chairman of the task group on public/private partnerships, and the steering committee on finance and facilities.

Eugene Y.C. ShangAquaculture economics pioneer Eugene Y.C. Shang
“Though [Dr. Shang]’s expertise was in great demand by organizations outside of Hawaiʻi, he always found the time to work with the State aquaculture program to help us better understand the local costs of production and market dynamics.”

Eleanor SterlingGlobal conservationist, groundbreaking scientist Eleanor Sterling
“[Sterling] was especially supportive of students and early-career professionals striving to weave different knowledge systems in their work. Given her immense reach, her impact will surely continue throughout the world and for generations to come.”

Greg McMackinFormer UH football coach Greg McMackin
McMackin announced his retirement in 2011 following a 44-year coaching career, which included four seasons as head coach of the Rainbow Warriors (2008–11) and two different stints as UH’s defensive coordinator.

Christine Sorensen IrvineDevoted education mentor, professor Christine Sorensen Irvine
“[Irvine] made a difference every day. Many, many doctoral students wanted her as chair and she never said no. She provided exceptional mentoring, and she was known for her tough yet fair and insightful feedback.”

Francis M. Pottenger, IIIFrancis M. Pottenger, III, innovator in science, curriculum development
More than a decade after joining the College of Education, Pottenger co-founded the Pacific Circle Consortium, an initiative in international co-operation between educational research and development institutions in the Pacific Region.

Jim LeaheyThe ‘Voice of UH Athletics,’ Jim Leahey
Leahey, who was inducted into the UH Sports Circle of Honor, will be remembered for broadcasting thousands of UH contests in football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball, soccer, swimming and water polo on radio and television.

Ronald Harvey HeckRonald Heck, education leadership advocate
Heck was instrumental in reshaping the academic programs in the Department of Educational Administration and worked with hundreds of students who have gone on to elevate the quality of public schools in Hawaiʻi.

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