BY MARGOT SCHRIRE – HILO–Shortly before stepping down on June 30, Chancellor Rose Tseng announced receipt of the largest bequest to UH Hilo in its history. A generous gift of $810,000 was made to the university from the estate of the late Howard and Yoneko Droste, longtime Hilo faculty members who taught at the campus for a combined total of 45 years. The Droste bequest will support the Art and English Departments and enable UH Hilo to enhance offerings in both areas.
“The legacy of Howard and Yoneko Droste will significantly raise the profile of the UH Hilo Art Department, which Howard served with distinction for so many years,” said Michael Marshall, MFA, UH Hilo Art Department Chair. “This generous gift will underwrite new exhibitions and equipment, and, most importantly, support a groundbreaking new course through which a steady stream of visiting artists will teach and inspire our students.”
This fund is already impacting the English Department, which has created Howard and Yoneko Droste Awards to recognize outstanding student writing. The first awards were presented at the College of Arts and Sciences Student Awards Convocation on May 5, 2010, to Edwina Leung (Outstanding ESL/Freshman Composition), Christina Blakey (Outstanding 200-Level English Paper), and Jerilee Negrillo (Outstanding Upper Division English Paper).
“A gift of this magnitude is a godsend for the English Department at a time when there is little financial incentive or support for the study of literature,” said Dr. Seri Luangphinith, UH Hilo English Department Chair. The English Department also plans to make an annual scholarship award to an outstanding senior and to apply a portion of the funds to other activities that support improvements in departmental teaching and research.
Howard Droste was born in Fairmount, Minnesota. He joined the United States Army, and served in Europe during World War II. After his military service, he enrolled at the University of Washington and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in art and Master of Fine Arts in painting. He joined the then UH-Hilo Branch campus in 1957 as an instructor in art and in 1970 became an associate professor. He remained in this position until his retirement in 1982, passing away in November 2005 at the age of 84.
Yoneko Yamanoha Droste was born on the Big Island, the daughter of Dr. Shosei Yamanoha, a prominent physician from Okinawa who practiced in Hilo. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from MacMurray College in Illinois, and a Master in English from Boston University. After four years as a teacher at Pahoa and Hilo High schools, she joined the UH-Hilo Branch campus as an instructor in English in 1959. She became an Associate Professor in 1974 and taught writing and literature until her retirement in 1979. She died in November 1996 at the age of 78.
Legacy gifts to UH Hilo touch the future, by creating a better University for the island, the state, and beyond. For more information on how to support a program or department at UH Hilo, please contact Margaret Shiba at (808) 933-0829 or Margaret.Shiba@uhfoundation.org.