Presidential Search Announcement

September 6, 2017

In May, President James Scott informed the Board of Trustees and the Punahou community of his intention to retire at the end of the 2018-19 school year when he will celebrate his 25th year of service. Jim’s leadership of Punahou School has been transformational. Since 1994, Punahou has led the way to more personalized instruction by better understanding how children learn and by integrating inquiry-based teaching and technology into its learning environments. We have been able to attract and retain gifted educators from around the world. Our campus has been physically transformed by facilities that incorporate Punahou’s instructional philosophy yet also reflect an increasing commitment to sustainability. In addition, our exceptional student population even better reflects the rich cultural, ethnic and socio-economic diversity of our island community.

Appointing the next president of Punahou School is one of the Board’s most important responsibilities. With two years to plan for our leadership transition, President Scott has given us the time to reflect upon where we are today, engage our community for input, thoroughly review candidates, and thoughtfully select our new president. We write now to share our progress to date and to provide you with ways to participate and stay informed as we move forward.

In June, the Board of Trustees appointed a Presidential Search Committee. Our initial goal was to oversee the selection of an executive search firm that would produce the best possible pool of candidates and support a robust and thorough process. Over the summer, the Committee invited 14 national and international executive search firms to submit proposals to help conduct the search. After reviewing 8 proposals, two finalists were invited to visit Punahou for in-depth interviews. The Committee then conducted extensive reference checks and in August selected Spencer Stuart to support Punahou’s presidential search. The Board of Trustees will finalize appointments to the Committee in September when we look forward to welcoming other voices to help advise in the selection of a candidate to present to the board.

As we now move into the listening phase of our process, we count on your participation. In October, Mary Gorman, Kristine Johnson, and Hypatia Kingsley from Spencer Stuart will be in Honolulu to talk with the Punahou community including faculty, staff, parents, alumni, students, administrative leaders, and trustees in a series of individual, small group and large group meetings. In addition, the Committee will host at least two listening sessions on the mainland and internationally. While it is not practical for the Spencer Stuart team to meet with everyone, a survey will soon be available online to ensure that we get the widest and most comprehensive input possible.

Your participation is critical to helping us frame both the position specification and the qualifications we look for in the next president of Punahou.

It is our intention to make this process as inclusive as possible and to that end you may track our progress on Punahou’s Presidential Search webpage or email us at

This is an extraordinarily exciting time in Punahou’s rich history. We look forward to hearing your thoughts as we search for a new leader to further build upon the strengths of this exceptional institution.

Mark Fukunaga, Chair
Deborah Berger, Vice Chair