A Campus Transformed Through Generosity

Over the last 182 years, the Punahou campus has continued a gradual metamorphosis to keep pace with the evolving needs of the student body. These changes have all been powered by the same valuable resource: philanthropy. 

From the initial gift of land from Liliha and Boki to the construction of each building and neighborhood on campus, it is generosity that has fueled our progress.

Punahou’s current extensive renovation of Cooke Library will transform the building into the new Academy Learning Commons (ALC), the intellectual and social hub of the Academy. Because Punahou does not use tuition dollars to fund capital construction, this project is being made possible by many thoughtful gifts. 

While fundraising for the ALC is currently in early stages, a few generous donors have already made important contributions that have allowed the project to begin. Here are some of the helpful hands that are igniting Punahou’s ALC project:

Constance “Connie” Hee ’70 Lau and Russell Lau ’70

Connie Hee ’70 Lau is a member of Punahou’s Board of Trustees, and she and her husband Russell ’70 are parents to three Punahou graduates: Jennifer ’04, Gregory ’06 and Eric ’10. Connie is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Hawaiian Electric Industries and Russell is Chairman and CEO of Finance Factors Ltd.  Both Connie and Russell are recognized leaders and strongly believe it is everyone’s kuleana to care for our community. In addition to Punahou, they have been especially supportive of educational institutions ranging from early childhood to higher education.

“Our family feels blessed to be part of the Punahou community. Punahou helped make each of us who we are today. We’re excited to be part of the transformation of the Academy Learning Commons, where our students can dream and discover through inspirational labs on emerging technologies, food science and sustainability-based lessons. And most importantly, we believe the Academy Learning Commons, with its generous covered lānai and collaborative learning spaces, will nurture the lifelong relationships that make Punahou special. We’re delighted to help make the Academy Learning Commons the intellectual and social hub of the Academy, and help continue Punahou’s tradition of exceptional facilities to support excellence in our campus learning environment and to educate future leaders for Hawai‘i and the world.”

– Connie Hee ’70 Lau

Lance ’62 and Jillian Inouye

Lance Inouye ’62 is Chairman of the Board of Ralph S. Inouye Co, Ltd. and his wife Jillian Inouye is a psychologist and professor of nursing and allied sciences at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. They have a growing family of Punahou attendees, including children Blake ’89 and Ross ’94 as well as grandchildren Elias Inouye ’25 and Camille Inouye ’29. They are dedicated to community service and philanthropy, and are involved in supporting a number of nonprofits on O‘ahu.

“Punahou has been a foundational part of our family’s life. As an alumnus, parent of two Punahou graduates and with two grandchildren there now, we are grateful for the profound impact the School has had on all of our lives. It’s impressive how Punahou perennially stays at the forefront of crafting its college preparatory curriculum and backs it up with state-of-the-art facilities. The Academy Learning Commons is just one example. We are excited to see the new Academy Learning Commons project come to life, and we feel honored to be able to give back and say mahalo nui loa.”

– Lance Inouye ’62

Gary and Akemi Simon

Over the past 15 years, Gary and Akemi Simon, along with Akemi’s mother, Emi Hata (who passed away in 2019 at the age of 103), have contributed generously to many phases of the reconstruction of the Punahou campus. They were actively engaged in the life of the School while their son, Seth Hisao Simon ’15, was a student, as well as their nephew Nicholas Simon ’13. Though Gary retired in 2016, following 25 years as executive director of St. Francis Hospice, he is even more active in the community today. He serves as the Volunteer State President of AARP Hawai‘i and chairs several boards as a longtime kūpuna advocate. Akemi has volunteered for decades with the Mānoa Japanese Language School. Helping others is in their DNA.

“Punahou sets the bar of excellence for me in both my personal and professional life – all is possible. As Punahou parents, we have seen how the School has provided a wide variety of opportunities to our son, Seth, and other students academically, spiritually and physically. A well-designed, welcoming environment facilitates effective instruction and provides students the greatest potential for the highest outcomes. The Academy Learning Commons will be a factor in enabling students to thrive. Giving is part of our personal mission. We give for a better community, and we are blessed and happy for the opportunity to contribute to the success of others.”

– Gary and Akemi Simon

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