Over his longstanding connection to Punahou, Steve Case ’76 has contributed greatly to propelling the School toward the future. After joining the Board in 2003, the AOL founder retired in March as a Punahou Trustee, and remains committed to helping students become tomorrow’s visionaries.
“Above all else, you’re an innovator with the heart of an educator, and you’ve continually challenged Punahou to look ahead and embrace the future,” Trustee Deborah Berger ’82 said during a virtual ceremony honoring Case’s service to the School.
For decades, Case has been regarded as one of the world’s leading visionaries of technology, business and education, and Punahou has reaped the rewards of his continued outreach to the School. In a 1999 speech he delivered at the National School Boards Association, he talked about how the internet could transform schools and unleash the potential of children. “Technology is a tool, not a miracle,” he said. “It can help us do right by our kids, but it’s not a cure-all. The best education will follow the path of retail establishments that have realized they need both face-to-face customer interaction and an online presence. Like these stores, the school of the future will be built with clicks and mortar.”
With an eye on such schools of the future, Case and his wife, Jean, made a generous donation in honor of Steve’s parents, Dan ’42 and Carol Case, to build Case Middle School, a state-of-the-art learning environment that was completed in 2005, and has been recognized nationally for its innovative and sustainable design. “It’s hard to really convey just how powerful a transformation I think the Case Middle School has created – a world-leading, innovative and exciting experience for students at a pivotal moment in their lives,” President Mike Latham ’86 told the Cases. “Punahou will benefit from the tremendous legacy that you, Jean and your family have created here at Punahou.”
More recently, the couple provided funding to launch the Case Accelerator for Student Entrepreneurship, which serves as an incubator for student entrepreneurs and their projects. The two-year-old program has already made a mark at the School, helping students develop such initiatives as Students for PunsUnited, which raised funds for financial aid by selling various products online. “Because of your passion for entrepreneurship, I’ve been able to find my calling,” Senior Class President Tom Nitao ’21 said during the ceremony. “Your program has allowed me to grow as a leader, learn adaptability, make mistakes and gain real-world experience in a way that no other opportunity in my life can emulate.”
Punahou has been balancing tradition and innovation in a way that has been remarkable, Steve Case said, after listening to all the well-wishers. “[Jean and I] have done a lot of things for a lot of organizations, but there are few things we are prouder of than what we have been able to be a part of with Case Middle School and the Case Accelerator here at Punahou.”
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