Philanthropy: Jay Shidler

Invested in Hawai‘i’s future
Photo: Aaron Yoshino 

The future of Hawai‘i business and education just got brighter—100 million times brighter—thanks to Jay Shidler’s latest donation to the University of Hawai‘i college of business, his alma mater. The $63 million now takes his grand total donation to a dizzying $100 million. It’s a watershed philanthropic move for our community, without even considering the half million dollars Shidler gave toward the beautification of Mākālei and Lē‘ahi beach parks, off Diamond Head. Not only is it the largest private gift the now-Shidler College of Business (a moniker adopted after Shidler’s initial $35 million) has ever received, it’s the largest private contribution in the history of the university. 


But, why donate so much—again—and now? Shidler’s first gift pumped resources into the facilities, established grants and provided scholarships. It made the school more competitive in the academic field, where it can hold its own next to big names like Dartmouth. It was, to be quite blunt, a good investment, with measurable, palpable results. And, says Shidler, “because I can. I can make a significant contribution that I obviously wasn’t able to make the day I graduated.” 


After graduating, he became a tour de force in Hawai‘i business. His real estate investment organization, The Shidler Group, acquires and manages properties within the state, as well as abroad, giving him a front-row seat to the development of Hawai‘i’s pivotal role in international business. Invigorating that movement through the college just makes sense.   


“This is 100 percent Hawai‘i,” says college of business Dean Vance Roley emphatically, echoing Shidler’s conviction that a world-class, high-caliber business college, and, by extension, a well-educated new generation of thinkers, directly contributes to the growth of higher paying jobs, a higher standard of living and a higher quality of life. “By investing in the college of business, he is investing in Hawai‘i.”