Fall 2009 - Cover Story
On Board & Ready, Willing and Able to Serve
The Board of Governors of ‘Iolani School this past June elected five new members to serve as leaders in the best interests of the school and community. Profiles of each follow.
Profiles by Cathy Lee Chong • Photos by Nash Witten ’08
‘Iolani School began as a small mission school for boys during the reign of King Kamehameha IV. Over time, thanks to the wisdom and vision of its Board of Governors, ‘Iolani has grown into one of the nation’s most established and respected co-educational independent schools.
While its teachers and students have undeniably contributed to ‘Iolani’s success, the Board of Governors provides long-range direction and guidance. As the school’s highest level of authority, the board makes important decisions that affect current and future generations, opening doors to opportunities.
While ‘Iolani was founded in 1863, the school became incorporated in 1941. ‘Iolani had paid $112,000 in 1938 for approximately 25 acres of land that is now the current campus.
Also in 1941, ‘Iolani’s board included men who played important roles in the school’s history: Bishop Samuel Harrington Littell, Father Albert H. Stone, Dr. James A. Morgan, Dr. Paul Withington, John Mason Young, Rev. Kenneth A. Bray, Benjamin F. Dillingham, George M. Collins, George P. Denison, Dr. John K. Kahalenanu, Gregg M.Sinclair (later named president of the University of Hawai‘i), Hugh C. Tennent, Rolla K. Thomas and the Rev. Wai On Shim.
(Research shows evidence that ‘Iolani had a committee comparable to a board of governors as early as 1928.)
Much of the governing board’s work the first several years after 1941 focused on organizing finances and a bookkeeping system as well as policy issues such as arguing for a rigid academic scholarship policy.
In 1943, the board raised teacher salaries of $1,200 a year by 10 percent and Mrs. J. B. Laing, housemother, was a given a five-cent-per-mile car allowance to use her car when picking up fresh vegetables for the school.
Early ‘Iolani boards still approved day-to-day decisions for the school, such as purchasing equipment, hiring personnel, granting raises, hiring electricians and redesigning the school seal.
But in 1955, the board decided that upon being presented with a selection of chairs for students, the headmaster would choose which to purchase.
Under Rev. Canon Frederick A. McDonald’s stewardship, board membership began to change. He was instrumental in convincing Gayer G. Dominick, head of the Wall Street brokerage of Dominick and Dominick, to join the board.
In 1955, Dominick expressed that the board should be open to women who could provide creative fundraising ideas. Thus, later that year, the board voted to ask Mrs. Carter Galt and Mrs. Gordon Ross to join.
In the 1960s, the board wrestled with the financial health of the school and explored leasing or selling part of the Ala Wai property for construction of apartments.
Other major decisions included ending financial but maintaining traditional ties to the Episcopal Church and electing its own chair whereas before the board chair was always the Bishop.
By the mid-1970s, the board was no longer involved in daily decisions regarding operations of the school and moved into policy making and fiduciary guidance. The change came under past headmaster The Rev. Burton A. MacLean (1959 – 1970) followed by The Rev. David P. Coon (1970 – 1992).
When the school received the Harold K. L. Castle Foundation gift of $17.2 million in 1973, the board’s role broadened further into investing and building the school’s endowment.
From the 1970s to the present, the board received input on curriculum changes from the headmaster. It made the historic decision to approve the admission of girls to the school beginning in 1979 with the seventh and ninth grades and in 1985 with kindergarten.
Leading the school through decades of growth and accomplishment, James Kawashima ’70 joined the board in 1981, served as chair for the past 17 years, and remains on the board today.
A member of the board since 1997, Jenai S. Wall was elected chair this past summer.
SOURCE: AT THY CALL WE GATHER: ‘IOLANI SCHOOL
Members of the Board of GovernorsThe ‘Iolani School Board of Governors elected officers for a two-year term which began on July 1, 2009.
In addition to the officers and five new members, the individuals listed to the right are standing members of the Board of Governors.