Hawaii Gives: Walter Dods Donates $5M to UH Mānoa

The Residences for Innovative Student Entrepreneurs (RISE) is now named for Walter A. Dods, Jr. following a $5M donation.     PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI‘I FOUNDATION

Former First Hawaiian Bank Chairman Walter A. Dods, Jr. recently donated $5 million to the new Residences for Innovative Student Entrepreneurs (RISE) at UH Mānoa.

In recognition of the gift, the building is now known as the Walter Dods Jr. RISE Center.

The building at the corner of University Avenue and Metcalf Street is the first public-private partnership between UH, UH Foundation and Hunt Deve lopment Group Hawai‘i. It opened in August and provides housing for 374 students, with programs operated by the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) at the UH Mānoa Shidler College of Business — of which Dods is an alumnus.

“I’m honored to champion a program that’s growing new generations of critical thinkers and entrepreneurs who will create the businesses that grow Hawai‘i’s economy,” says Dods. “I look forward to seeing the future the PACE at RISE students will create for themselves, our state and the world.”

Hunt Development Group hired Moss & Associates as the general contractor to build the project. The pink Charles Atherton House was gutted, refurbished and its exterior preserved. The neighboring Mary Atherton Richards House was demolished and two new structures were built on the 43,107-square-foot property.

Dods has been an active community volunteer and fundraiser since the early days of his career. After 36 years at First Hawaiian Bank, he retired in 2004 as chairman and CEO. His philanthropic support of UH stretches back to 1975, when he was among the founders of UH Foundation’s President’s Club to encourage support for UH from alumni, friends and community leaders.

Dods also served on the UH Foundation Board of Trustees and was its president from 1978 to 1980. He chaired 1998’s “UH Campaign for Hawai‘i” that raised $116 million for the university.

Dods and his late wife, Diane, established the Walter A. and Diane N. Dods Endowed Scholarship Fund with a gift of $1 million for students who are immigrants or children of immigrants. He also helped raise $1.6 million to establish the Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals and co-chaired the committee to establish the Senator Daniel K. Akaka Regents Scholarship Endowment.

“In the beginning, I pledged $250,000 because I liked the idea. But as I saw it advance, and Susan Yamada, Sandra Fujiyama and UH Foundation — how they put this together without any taxpayer dollars, I became really convinced that this was going to be a special project for the state of Hawai‘i and I wanted to be part of it,” Dods says.

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