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Late civic leader Yap to receive UH medal


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POSTED: Sunday, November 22, 2009

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents will award its Medal of Distinction to the late William Kwai-Fong Yap, a businessman and civic leader who helped the College of Hawaii become the University of Hawaii.

In 1919, Yap gathered support from community leaders and presented a petition to the Territorial Legislature to broaden educational opportunities and position UH as a strategic point for university, Asia and Pacific Islands relations.

The Legislature passed a bill that year to establish the University of Hawaii and more than doubled appropriations for higher education, according to a memo to the regents supporting the recommendation to award Yap the medal.

The regents approved the recommendation Thursday.

Yap also established the university's first scholarship fund in 1924—the Chinese Community Scholar Fund, which was renamed to the William Kwai-Fong Yap Memorial Scholarship. The fund still helps students in Chinese studies attend UH.