Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The international dimension of HPU

One of the many great aspects of Hawai‘i Pacific University is its sprawling international dimension. We’re recognized by the Institute for International Education as one of America’s top master’s degree-granting universities for international diversity within our student body. Likewise, U.S. News & World Report has called out HPU as being a leader in international enrollment among universities in the Western United States. The representation of more than 1,000 students from more than 100 foreign nations adds a richness to our student body and the HPU experience that simply isn’t found at many mainland institutions. It all adds up to another reason why our location in Hawaii is one of our greatest assets as a university.

President Loeak speaks at a ceremony at the Bikini Atoll.
It should come as no surprise, then, that our alumni also are a reflection of that diversity and can be found in interesting places around the world. The Republic of the Marshall Islands, for instance, is led by President Christopher Loeak, a 1979 graduate of HPU’s College of Business Administration, who is scheduled to visit HPU this Friday along with two other senior officials from his government. President Loeak is in Honolulu on his way to New York to take part in the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, where President Obama and Mitt Romney are both scheduled to speak.

And President Loeak isn’t the only HPU international alumnus with an interesting career. Scott Nolan Smith heads Digital Diplomacy for the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. Akebono Taro is the first non-Japanese wrestler ever to reach yokozuna, the highest rank in sumo and an eight-time division champion.

The Republic of Maldives in the Indian Ocean offers perhaps one of the most interesting examples of the international dimension of HPU. Maldives Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen is not only a member of the Maldivian Royal Family as the son of Prince Abdullah Imaaduddeen (part of the Maldives' sixth royal dynasty), but father to three daughters who are both HPU alumni and successful international businesswomen.

Aminath Shezni Waheed Deen (BSBA ’99, Travel Industry Management) is the executive director of the family resort business, H. Deens Villa, which is the parent company of the picturesque Bandos Island Resort & Spa. She is also the highest-ranking woman in the Maldives hotel and tourism industry. Fathimath Shivnee Waheed Deen (BA ’99, Communication and Advertising) runs the Shell Beans CafĂ© and other family businesses. Aishath Shiranee Waheed Deen (BSBA ’96, Business Administration), director of Navean Private Limited, the largest wine distributor in Sri Lanka, rounds out the trio of Deen daughters.

And that’s not all. Two other Deen children are also HPU alumni, as is one daughter’s husband.

As the “founding father of local government” in the Maldives, Vice President Deen, who was appointed to his position in February of this year, has been a leading promoter of education, human rights and economic development, and it’s gratifying that in looking for educational preparation to be leaders in the economic future of the Maldives, the Deens have chosen HPU.

The connection doesn’t end there, however.

Vice President Deen, Shezni Deen and Prof. Jerry Agrusa
College of Business Administration Professor Jerry Agrusa is working on two research projects for the Maldives tourism industry – one focusing on workforce development, and the second on “customer-based brand equity.” These are projects of consequence: Tourism is the Maldives’ largest industry, with annual revenues of roughly $600 million drawn from 800,000 tourists. The development of luxury resorts and improving political and economic climates are aiding further expansion of the industry.

Many universities point to international impact as an aspiration. But few can claim it as part of their here-and-now reality as we can at Hawai‘i Pacific University, and that’s one of a growing number of reasons we can point to HPU with pride.

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