University of Hawaii Board of Regents approves honorary degree award to Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa

University of Hawaiʻi
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-8109
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Dec 18, 2008

HONOLULU — At a meeting held today at Honolulu Community College (HCC), the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents (BOR) approved the conferral of an honorary degree upon Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa, the great grand niece of King David Kalākaua and Queen Kapiʻolani. The request was introduced by Chancellor Gene Awakuni of UH West Oʻahu, the sponsoring campus.

"The Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters is awarded by the Board of Regents to individuals distinguished by their national or international reputations or accomplishments in scholarship, public service, profession, or industry. It is an honor for the Board of Regents to approve this award," said UH BOR Chair Allan Landon.

UH President David McClain remarked, "Princess Kawananakoa‘s philanthropic work has been essential to the preservation of Hawaiian culture as a heritage for future generations. Through her dedication and generosity, she has helped to sustain authentic Hawaiian history, music, hula, literature and language."

"Princess Kawananakoa has been recognized and honored by many for her lifetime achievements. She has distinguished herself in public service and has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the betterment of Hawaiʻi‘s people and communities," said UH West Oʻahu Chancellor Gene Awakuni.

Chancellor Awakuni‘s sentiment is echoed by Hawaiʻi Community College Chancellor Rockne Freitas. "Her life represents a history of care and service for all things affecting the people of Hawaiʻi," said Freitas. "It is through her sincere willingness to better our people, as she has shown from Hilo to Hanalei, that she deserves our deepest gratitude."

Princess Kawananakoa served as the president of the Friends of ʻIolani Palace for nearly 30 years and was the moving force behind the palace‘s monumental and historic restoration project. As a result of her leadership, ʻIolani Palace is now recognized as a world-class edifice rich in history and tradition symbolizing the Hawaiian monarchy.

She has generously supported many projects throughout the state, from Hawaiian language immersion schools to the historic renovation of The Hawaiian Hall at Bishop Museum. Her strong ties with royals throughout the South Pacific is also a testament to her goodwill toward cultures around the world

She established the Abigail K. Kawananakoa Foundation to continue her commitment to the preservation of Hawaiian culture as well as a wide range of charities throughout the world that benefit all walks of life with a natural emphasis on "aloha." She also formed Na Lei Aliʻi Kawananakoa, a Native Hawaiian organization serving and representing the interests of Native Hawaiians. Many Hawaiian artifacts have been "rescued" or preserved through this organization.

Princess Kawananakoa is known globally for her love of horses and her support of animal rights. She endowed a university chair with a gift of $3 million for research on equine orthopedics at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. More than 160 students from Hawaiʻi have benefited from that gift as graduates of Colorado State University‘s veterinary program through the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education‘s (WICHE) tuition exchange program. The program allows students from states without veterinary programs, such as Hawaiʻi, to compete for slots at participating universities with fees paid by their state of residency.