Learning Commons Leader: Patrick Quilter ’64

Learning Commons Leader: Patrick Quilter ’64

Two extraordinary alumni recently stepped forward to support the innovative vision behind the Junior School Learning Commons: Patrick Quilter ’64 and Marcia Reed ’54 Wythes. Both currently live in California, and they graduated from Punahou 10 years apart from one another. But more importantly, they share a deep sense of gratitude to the School for providing them with the personal and intellectual foundation that would shape their futures. Their generosity is in turn laying the foundation for this historic facility, which will be the creative and innovative heart of the Junior School when it opens in the fall of 2019.

Music has been a part of Pat Quilter’s ’64 life from an early age. He remembers spending hours listening to records as a child, together with his younger brother, Matt ’67. While Matt went on to become the professional musician in the family, it was Pat who combined his interest in music with a knack for invention to experiment with building guitar amplifiers in the ’60s and ’70s.

“It was kind of a magic time in music,” he remembers of those years, naming figures like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton among his early inspirations. “Exciting things were happening in the youth culture and we were exploring new ways of listening to things. Part of that scene was pushing the dynamic side of popular music to unheard of heights in terms of volume and overdrive. It was the dawn of the Space Age, a very technologically exciting time and, as a youth culture, we kind of fancied ourselves as exploring inner space while the grownups were shooting rockets to the moon.”

Building on the curiosity and ingenuity he traces back to his high-school physics class at Punahou, Quilter’s experiments in audio engineering led him to found his own company, which eventually became QSC Audio Products – today one of the country’s leading professional audio equipment companies. “I learned everything I needed to get started in my Punahou physics class, and I’ve always tried to express gratitude to the School for giving me that foundation,” he says.

Quilter is also a talented musician in his own right. He plays the steel guitar, piano and ‘ukulele, makes many of his own instruments, and has been spotted on stage at alumni events with his classmate Pal Eldredge ’64. His love of music and innovation will inspire thousands of Punahou students in the future “Quilter Lab for Creative Arts” – the spaces dedicated to visual and performing arts in the Junior School Learning Commons.

Quilter points out three vital areas of education that he believes Punahou is working to advance: the teaching of skills, the cultivation of values and development of creative potential. With major shifts taking place in the global economy and the increasing automatization of the workforce, he believes that today, more than ever, “It’s important to have a platform of culture and give people an outlet for the creative abilities that will allow them to be productive members of society and also lead rich, fulfilling lives.”

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