Grootaert Establishes Endowed Scholarship for Hawaiian Studies

Dr. Christiaan “Chris” Grootaert
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Karen Elaine Chandler (1947-2013)

HONOLULU -Dr. Christiaan “Chris” Grootaert, former lead economist in the social development department based at the World Bank’s D.C. office, has pledged  $250,000 (with an outright gift coupled with his estate gift) to establish the Karen Elaine Chandler Endowed Hawai‘inuiākea Scholarship Fund for Hawaiian Studies, Dance, and Music. The scholarship supports undergraduate students pursuing a degree at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge who have a strong focus in their studies on Hawaiian dance or the combination of Hawaiian dance and music.

Originally from Belgium, Dr. Grootaert graduated from UH Mānoa in 1978 with a PhD in economics. This latest gift builds on his earlier generosity. In 2005 he established an endowed scholarship fund at the Department of Economics and in early 2013 he established an endowed scholarship fund at the Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, both in his name.


The new scholarship honors Dr. Grootaert’s friend and companion, Karen Chandler. “By creating this scholarship, we are honoring Karen’s wish to express her thanks for the cultural enrichment she received through her contact with Hawaiian culture,” said Dr. Grootaert.

Karen Elaine Chandler (1947-2013) grew up in Honolulu and San Diego. In Hawai‘i, she learned to dance the hula at an early age, a skill that she continued to develop at many dance classes later on. At her high school, she participated in singing and dancing groups and was very active in student government.  In her senior year, in 1965, she was voted “Most Talented Senior Girl” by her classmates.

Chandler graduated from San Diego State University and obtained law degrees from the University of San Diego Law School (J.D., 1975) and Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C. (LL.M., 1983). She had a long and distinguished career as an attorney. Career highlights include working at the Federal Trade Commission on anti-trust cases, then as a clerk at the U.S. Tax Court. After a brief period of working in the private sector, she returned to federal government service in 1988 at the Internal Revenue Service.

An outstanding litigator, Chandler never lost a case that she argued as Lead Counsel before the U.S. Tax Court, except one. This one case was, however, later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in support of the position Karen had argued. Throughout her career, she was praised for her expertise, work ethic and dedication, and she received numerous awards.

Karen pursued a life of cultural enrichment and was an avid student of the arts. Her childhood love of Hawaiian dancing led to a life-long appreciation of Hawaiian culture, especially dance and music, and expanded to classical dancing as well. Her final wishes included the creation of this scholarship fund to help students pursue Hawaiian studies and the art of Hawaiian dance and music.

Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge Dean Maenette Benham concluded, “This scholarship honors a remarkable woman and will make an important contribution towards preserving and revitalizing those elements of Hawaiian culture rooted in and expressed through dance and music.  We are most grateful.”

For information on how you can establish a scholarship, please contact Malia Peters or (808) 956-6311.