East Hawaii News

Hilo Dentist Creates $500,000 Endowment at UH-Hilo

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The University of Hawaii at Hilo has its first endowed chair as a result of a $500,000 donation from an alumna.

Dr. Patsy Fujimoto made the gift in honor of her former UH-Hilo history professor, David Purcell.

Fujimoto, a dentist who is also an assistant professor in the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, attended UH-Hilo and graduated from UH-Manoa.

She has been a member of the UH-Manoa faculty since 1981, and has a private practice in Hilo.

The university said the David C. Purcell, Jr. Endowed Visiting Chair in History in the College of Arts and Sciences will enable the department to bring distinguished historians to campus, and increase the amount of expertise in American, Asia/Pacific and European history, as well as in other fields of history.


Fujimoto said she was inspired to make the endowment as a result of her experiences in Purcell’s Asian history classes.

“Dr. Purcell knew his material thoroughly and set very high standards for his students and himself,” Fujimoto said in a statement from the university.

“My experiences with Dr. Purcell solidified my belief that a solid undergraduate education gives the learner a lifetime of ideals and values. I am most grateful for all he taught us and strive to emulate his commitment to students in my teaching, and through this gift.”

Fujimoto hopes that other former students, faculty members and friends will consider supporting the endowment.


Purcell earned his doctorate in Japanese history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1967.

While completing his doctoral studies, he was awarded a two-year fellowship for Japanese language study at the East West Center at UH Mānoa.

He taught at Sophia University in Tokyo, as well as at California State University, East Bay, and at Miami University of Ohio before joining the Hilo faculty in 1970.

At UH-Hilo, he taught courses in the history of Japan, China and Oceania until his retirement in 2001.


Purcell is a recipient of the Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award, and he served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UH-Hilo from 1976-1983.

“I am profoundly grateful to Dr. Fujimoto for establishing an endowed professional chair in my name,” Purcell said.

“Her extraordinary commitment to undergraduate education at UH Hilo will benefit future generations of students, not only from Hawai‘i, but also from the nation and the world.”

UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney said the university was grateful for Fujimoto’s action.

“Knowledge of history enriches our communities and strengthens society, and I’m pleased the inspiration Dr. Purcell imparted to his student years ago will benefit UH-Hilo students for years to come,” Straney said.

Those interested in contributing to the chair or otherwise supporting students and programs can contact the UH-Hilo Development Office at 933-1945 or by visiting www.uhfoundation.org/givetoUHH.

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