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Alumni donations buoy new Saint Louis building

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The $14.5 million Clarence T.C. Ching Learning and Technology Center will stage its grand opening this morning at Saint Louis School.

The center, which philanthropy built, will house the school’s business leadership program, performing arts programs, a virtual learning center, spaces for advanced technology applications and studios for the visual arts. The school’s historical archive also will be located in the building.

The new building was named for a graduate from the class of 1932 who went on to become a successful businessman, known for developing areas around Hono­lulu Airport, Salt Lake, Moana­lua, Fort Shafter and Trip­ler Army Medical Center along with Saint Louis classmate K.J. Luke. Ching also built Kukui Gardens in 1970.

The Ching Foundation’s more than $5 million donation was the largest of those collected, hence the naming of the whole building; however, other Saint Louis alumni made donations large enough to receive naming rights to suites.

The building’s presidential suite is named for Dr. Lawrence K.W. Tseu, a renowned dentist and philanthropist who graduated from the school in 1951 and donated $1 million.

The Gilliland family, which has long provided scholarships to Saint Louis students, not to mention some graduates from its bloodline, also donated $1 million, and the technology suite will bear its name.

Hawaiian Eye Foundation President and founder Dr. John Corboy, also founder of the Hawaiian Eye Center and class of 1956 alumnus, will have the business leadership program named after him.

Saint Louis graduate Robert J. Morgado, whose resume includes gigs at Warner Music Group Inc., World Communications Inc. and Maroley Media Group, raised $970,000 from his classmates, so the class of 1960 will be honored with a plaque in the building’s second-floor lobby.

Most if not all Hawaii schools have alumni who go on to make names for themselves in a big way (a certain president of the United States who wen grad from Punahou snaps to mind).

"We have a slew … that have done exceptionally well and are giving back," said former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, now Saint Louis executive vice president for development and recruitment. He ticked off a list of names including Walter Dods, who worked his way up to the top job at First Hawaiian Bank and became a luminary in Hawaii business; Ray Bickson, the CEO of Taj Hotels; and many others who have gone on to professional success — and he didn’t even mention the professional football players.

"This is my position, to get out there and raise money for the school, to organize the alumni and try to get them back," Aiona said. Alumni are "pretty much the lifeline" of financial support for the school, and Aio­na’s task is "to keep them engaged, because we don’t get any public money."

Aiona’s class of 1973 also has been raising money for naming rights for the building, for which the groundbreaking was in the fall of 2009.

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