Thursday, 1. September 2022 - 16:59

Leaving a mark on history: Ken and Liz Peach honored for contributions to OIST

A plaque honoring Ken Peach, a former long-term OIST executive and advisor, and his wife Liz Peach was unveiled in a ceremony, in recognition of their significant generosity to OIST. Given as a series of donations from 2015–2021, their contributions gave OIST the necessarily financial flexibility to pursue many important university and community initiatives.

The ceremony, which took place under the roofed walkway outside the main entrance of OIST on May 19, 2022, was officiated by Heather Young, Vice President of Communications and Public Relations, and attended by many from the OIST community. Ken Peach, who currently lives in Scotland, was also in attendance. Liz was unable to join, but a video was made for her.

The speakers at the plaque unveiling ceremony recognized the significant generosity of Ken and Liz Peach to OIST. From left to right: Prof. Síle Nic Chormaic, Robyn Serge, Dr. Peter Gruss, Dr. Ken Peach, Heather Young, and Jeff Prine.

In the ceremony, President and CEO of OIST, Dr. Peter Gruss, acknowledged the manyfold contributions that the Peachs have provided OIST since the institute was first founded.

“What you did to OIST was not just to give your heart’s blood in professional terms, being the best manager I've seen, being humble, and loyal and forward looking as to what OIST always needs — you also invested your private funds. That is an example of how an individual can help in many ways. Now […] I’d like to express the gratitude of OIST for all that you have done.”

Ken has been involved with OIST since the beginning, serving first on the Board of Councilors in 2011, before accepting the role as Dean of Faculty Affairs, from 2014–2016. Upon leaving OIST for the first time, he and Liz donated to the OIST Tedako Child Development Center (CDC). The program, which Ken considers to be a ‘crown jewel’ of OIST, provides quality nursery care and early childhood bilingual education to children of OIST students and employees.

With their donation, the CDC was able to invest in permanent outdoor shades, strong enough to withstand typhoons, which have provided much-needed shade for the children against the strong sun during outdoor play. 

A letter from Julia Nabholz, Director of the CDC, who could not attend in person, was read aloud at the ceremony: “Ken, you and Liz are the special type of people that change lives, lift people up and makes the world a better place. On behalf of the children, families, and teachers at the Tedako Child Development Center, I thank you for the generous donation to the CDC.”

When Ken returned to OIST as the Senor Advisor for Strategy, he and Liz continued to make a number of donations to many of OIST’s projects, including to the Haari Club, OIST’s dragon boat racing society, for their own dragon boat, which was hand-crafted in the traditional Okinawan way. They also provided essential funding for the creation of OIST Press, which is planning to publish its first book on the history of OIST next year, an initiative that Ken spearheaded.

Their most recent donation was given to the Ukraine Emergency Relief fund, which is enabling OIST to host scientists from Ukraine on a temporary and humanitarian basis, as well as support Ukrainian students and staff already at OIST, through services such as counseling. 

David Janes, President and CEO of the OIST Foundation, also expressed his gratitude in a written letter: “Thank you for your extreme generosity to the institution. Your philanthropic support at OIST has enabled numerous important projects to move forward, especially in the area of educational outreach for local youth in Okinawa, and the recent important work to rescue students and scholars from Ukraine.”

After the plaque was unveiled, Ken concluded the ceremony by reflecting on his time at OIST and the institution’s vision. 

“We all would like to leave our mark on history in some way or other, and the best way of doing it is to create something,” he said. “But creating things is actually very hard work, and to have a memory of that hard work and creation is something which we should all be proud of. I’ve spent all of my adult life working in multinational, multilingual, multicultural environments, and OIST is just the embodiment of that spirit. And I really wouldn't want to work anywhere else. So thank you very much, everyone.”

Ken Peach gives a concluding speech at plaque unveiling ceremony, which was held in honor of his and Liz Peach’s generosity to OIST. May 19, 2022.

By Dani Ellenby

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