Skip To Main Content

Announcing Punahou’s Next President

After a comprehensive yearlong search process, the Punahou Board of Trustees unanimously approved the appointment of Dr. Michael (“Mike”) Latham ‘86, as the School’s next President today. Mike and his wife, Jenn, were introduced to faculty and staff this afternoon at Thurston Memorial Chapel. The news release announcing his appointment follows this letter.

We are delighted that Mike will join Punahou as its 17th president on July 1, 2019 after his final year at Grinnell College where he is currently Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College.

Punahou’s presidential search process began last summer with the formation of the Presidential Search Committee (PSC), which was comprised of nine members of the Board of Trustees and two members of the faculty. All members of the PSC have deep ties to Punahou as alumni and/or parents.

The first step was the selection of a partner firm to assist with the search. After phone interviews with eight potential search firms, interviews at Punahou with the two finalist firms and 25 reference calls, the committee selected Spencer Stuart (“SSI”) and their three search consultants, Mary Gorman, Kristine Johnson and Hypatia Kingsley.

To engage the entire Punahou community and solicit feedback on the qualities needed in the next head of Punahou, we held 50 listening sessions at Punahou and 13 more at various locations ranging from Singapore to New York City. An online survey was administered which received over 3,000 responses.

Based on that feedback and with input from the PSC and full Board, we published the position description and launched the search in November, 2017. Two members of the PSC visited 20 schools and/or their heads in January to inform the search. The PSC reviewed a series of possible candidates, and conducted a first round of interviews in San Francisco, and a second round of in-depth interviews and dinners with semi-finalists and their spouses in Honolulu.

For the third round of interviews with the finalists in Honolulu, members of the Punahou community were invited to meet with them and provide feedback to the PSC. Representatives from the leadership of the Parent Faculty Association and Punahou Alumni Association participated, as well as several Punahou administrators and selected groups of Junior School and Academy faculty. Their perspectives were a very important part of the search process, and we are grateful to them for their participation.

In addition to these rounds of interviews, the PSC and SSI made numerous reference calls regarding the candidates, and a member of the PSC visited the finalists at their homes and schools. Separate, independent firms conducted background checks and executive assessments of each of the finalists. After reviewing all the above data and feedback, the PSC made the unanimous decision to present Mike to the full board for its approval.

The 2018 – 2019 school year will be one of transition as we acknowledge Jim Scott ’70 for his dedicated leadership and prepare to welcome Mike in July of 2019. An ad hoc committee of the Board of Trustees called the Transition Committee, chaired by Connie Lau ’70, will guide key elements of the transition over the course of next year.

Punahou will benefit from Mike’s expertise and experience. In a rapidly changing world where disruption is the norm and self-directed learning is essential, where the qualities of collaboration, resilience and character are at least as important as acquiring knowledge, and where many needs must be supported by limited resources, Mike’s strong strategic and administrative abilities will serve Punahou well. Equally important, Mike has demonstrated throughout his career that he is an exceptional listener and thoughtful collaborator, and he will work well with Punahou’s many constituents. Finally, Mike’s love and gratitude for Punahou are deeply held and will provide the heartfelt inspiration for his future work.

We know that you will also enjoy meeting Mike’s family. His wife, Jenn, who has an MA in Russian studies and is studying to become an Episcopal priest, and their daughters, Maile (15) and Anya (13), are looking forward to the opportunity.

We are delighted to welcome Mike and his family back to Punahou.

Ethan Abbott, Chair, Board of Trustees
Mark Fukunaga, Chair, Presidential Search Committee
Deborah Berger, Vice Chair, Presidential Search Committee