A Leader Dedicated to Serving Others

Rachel Breitweser ’03

January 21, 2016

Inspired by Punahou’s 175th anniversary, this year’s Spirit and Service Speaker Series featured one of Punahou’s own: Dr. Jim Scott ’70. The Punahou president shared how his mid-career reflections drove him to position Punahou as a school that serves the community.

The Spirit and Service Speaker Series is an annual partnership between Luke Center for Public Service and the Punahou Chapel that has run for over a decade. Previously, Punahou has invited outside speakers to share stories that embody the connection between faith and action.

The chaplains looked to the Punahou alumni community for this year’s speaker. “Given President Scott’s vision of leadership that established the Luke Center for Public Service and Clarence T.C. Ching PUEO Program and is developing Punahou as a private school with a public purpose, we felt he was an ideal fit for this series during this landmark school year,” said Chandra Hanlin ’84 Peters, administrative coordinator of Luke Center for Public Service and Chapel.

Chaplain Lauren Medeiros echoed the sentiment: “We are so honored he was our speaker in this historic year, inspiring our students with his commitment to, not just making our school better, but leading a school that tries to make the world better.”

Scott, who has served as president for 22 years, presented at ten separate Chapel visits starting Jan. 4, sharing his message with every student, kindergarten through grade 12.

We all know Dr. Scott, but do we really know him?” Rees ’25 asked fellow students in the second- and third-grade Chapel during an introduction of Scott.

At each presentation, Scott showed a photo of himself in the students’ grade level and described a memory from that time. “It was an awesome context for what inspired him to live a life of service as well as make service a hallmark of his presidency,” said Medeiros.

Scott talked about his journey from Stanford and Harvard to serving as headmaster in a school in Oregon and his career at Punahou. Twelve years into his tenure as president at Punahou, Scott thought it was time for the School to shift course.

“Punahou needs to do a better job of serving the community,” he decided. “We need to make a commitment to financial aid. It’s not enough to send students out to do service in the community, Punahou needs to be more representative of the community.”

Scott shared a video of then Senator Barack Obama ’79 during a visit to campus in 2004 where he spoke about the value and importance of public service, encouraging students to “dream big.” Scott himself received support from Obama that day. “As we were crossing Middle Field to his car, he said to me, ‘Make Punahou lead.’”

Scott left students with his own words of motivation: “Make this year a year to rededicate yourself to the gift of Punahou.”

This speaker series is generously supported by gifts from the Class of ’41 Chapel Fund and the Chaplain Kenneth O. and Doris A. Rewick Community Service Fund.


  • 2/1/2016 5:33:11 PM

    Dr. Scott speaks on his feet exactly the way I and a lot of people are accustomed to think! In 22 years now I have literally never heard Dr. Scott speak - ever. He has traditionally not shown up in the media, it seems by design. But he cites here a 26 year time line for former Punahou President McPhee and 24 years for Dr. Fox. Former Mayor Frank Fasi loved to communicate with the public. I suggest we would benefit to hear at this point more of what all Dr. Scott is thinking in, say, unscripted interviews with Malia Mattoch or Steve Uyehara on TV, lots more of what all he is indeed thinking on a more regular time line. He does this well. – Tim DeVault 

  • 2/1/2016 6:33:37 PM

    President Scott, At my advanced age of 90 I enjoyed looking back at Punahou, where in the class of '43 I spent several years and was so sad when my family left. Thank you for the memories. Aloha. – Prof. Joyce Chapman Lebra

  • 2/1/2016 6:58:18 PM

    I'm glad I watched this clip. I actually needed to hear some of this today. Joy Perkins


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