Sing arrived at UH Hilo in 1974 as a counselor for Pacific Island students. He went on to become founding executive director of Nā Pua No‘eau Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Children, based at UH Hilo for decades.
By Susan Enright.
President Joe Biden yesterday announced his intent to nominate University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Specialist Emeritus David Kekaulike Sing to serve as a member of the National Council on the Humanities. The National Endowment for the Humanities’ chair is advised by the National Council on the Humanities, a board of 26 distinguished private citizens appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The National Council members serve staggered six-year terms.
Sing is currently a managing partner at Educational Prism, LLC, a Hawai‘i-based Hawaiian-owned education consultant company serving educational leaders at schools, universities, and education centers specializing in Native Hawaiian students and Native Hawaiian education.
Sing started out at UH Hilo in 1974 as a counselor for Pacific Island students. He went on to become founding executive director of Nā Pua No‘eau Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Children (K-12), based at UH Hilo for decades and still one of the most important programs in Native Hawaiian education found in the state. The program was later expanded to other UH campuses Kaua‘i Community College, UH Mānoa, and UH Maui College.
“David was my mentor when I was hired at UH Hilo nearly 37 years ago,” says Gail Makuakāne-Lundin, now-retired director of Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center at UH Hilo, in an interview in 2021 about Sing’s leadership at UH Hilo and in Native Hawaiian educational programs.
“He also served in that (mentorship) role for many other young Native Hawaiian professionals who worked at UH Hilo beginning in the 1980s,” she continues. Those professionals include Ginger Hamilton, student support, UH Hilo, retired; Manu Meyer, student affairs, UH West O‘ahu; Kamuela Chun, academic affairs, UH Community Colleges; Kinohi Gomes, program director, UH Mānoa Na Pua No‘eau; and Lui Hokoana, chancellor, UH Maui College.
“He organized the first Native Hawaiian Council for faculty and staff on the UH Hilo campus, the Committee of Faculty of Hawaiian Ancestry, and he established the Hawaiian Leadership Development Program in 1984, which today is the Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center,” adds Makuakāne-Lundin.
Sing also developed Ke Ola Mau Health Pathways for Native Hawaiian students, a career-path program for students attending either UH Hilo or UH Mānoa majoring or intending to major in a health field. And he mobilized Native Hawaiian education caucus groups, creating a voice for Native Hawaiian education to be heard through grassroots venues such as the Native Hawaiian Education Association and the Hawaiian Leadership Conference.
Sing was the first Native Hawaiian voted to the Board of the National Indian Education Association. He was awarded the National Indian Education Association Educator of the Year Award in 2008 and Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021. In 1991 and 2009, he received the Native Hawaiian Education Award recognized as the outstanding educator for contributing to the achievement and educational enrichment of Native Hawaiian children.
Sing received his master and doctoral degrees from Claremont University in California.
Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.