KAUKA: Dr. Blaisdell Receives Honorary UH Doctorate Degree

Winning a degree that’s been four years (and thousands of hours of study and clinical training) in the making is reason enough for our class to eagerly anticipate Commencement 2014. But there was more.

At the same event, JABSOM Emeritus Professor Kekuni Blaisdell, MD, a pillar of the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University of Hawai`i. In 1966, Dr. Blaisdell was the first Chair of the JABSOM Department of Medicine, and he is considered a treasure to every class which has ever graduated from our medical school. He is also revered as a kauka, or healer, in our State’s Native Hawaiian community, and a tireless advocate for learning and increased opportunities for our people.

More about Dr. Blaisdell*

In 1965, while a member of the faculty at the University of Chicago, Dr. Blaisdell received the national Lederle Medical Faculty Teaching Award. That same year, the Hawai`i State Legislature founded JABSOM.

In 1973, Dr. Blaisdell was named Ha’awi ‘Ike Akea Outstanding Professor at the University of Hawai`i School of Medicine.

In 1974, Dr. Blaidell was named Kamehameha Schools Alumnus of the year.

In 1975, Dr. Blaisdell received the Kaiser Teaching Award of the University of Hawai’i School of Medicine.

In 1970-1977, Dr. Blaisdell was appointed, along with served with Mary Kawena Puku’i, to the University of Hawai’i Committee for the Preservation of Hawaiian Language, Art and Culture; in 1972-1976, a member of the University of Hawai’i Native Hawaiian Students Committee, Program and Hawaiian Scholars Program. He served on the 1986-1988 University of Hawai’i System Ka’u (Hawaiian Studies) Task Force and, in 1987-1989, as acting interim director of the then-created University of Hawai’i Center for Hawaiian Studies.

1970, Dr. Blaisdell served on the Hui Hanai (Queen Lili’uokalanai Children’s Center Auxiliary) Board of Directors, as president, 1980-1982. He worked on the Nana I ke Kumu (Look to the Source) Book Committee, 1972–1979; and Queen’s Songbook Committee, 1980-1990.

In the 1980s, Dr. Blaisdell discovered the term Kānaka Maoli, in Historical Text. He was the first to ask the questions: if one compares original historic descriptions of Hawaiians (robust health) with current statistics (ill health), what is it about western contact other than the obvious that explains near extinction of a race? More importantly, what can be done?

After this, he began to pioneer serious study of Kānaka Maoli Health Research as a medical field.

Pictured: Dr. Marjorie Mau, Professor of Medicine and former Chair of the Department of Native Hawaiian Health, greets Dr. Blaisdell in March 2014, at JABSOM’s Awa Ceremony to bless an ahu, or shrine, at JABSOM. Photo by Amanda Shell.

*Source Wikipedia

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