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Summer 2011

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Summer 2011 - Department | Faculty Profile

‘Iolani Admission Director Patricia Liu Retires

by Kelly Monaco

 For over 20 years, Patricia Liu has been the captain of the Admission ship and so much more. She has guided lost boats, sometimes tethering them to her bow, back to safety. Beyond her myriad of duties as director, Liu has served as teacher, advisor, mentor, visionary and friend to countless members of the ‘Iolani crew. 

Members of the admission team congratulate Patricia Liu on her retirement. Left to right, Kelly Monaco, Kelly Hogan ’84, Patrica Liu, Noe Chang, Rene Leong and retired secretary Audrey Hee.
Liu was born in Detroit, Michigan to Dr. Edwin and Penny Novak. She is the oldest of eight children (three sisters and four brothers) so it’s no wonder that she expertly learned to “captain the ship.” She graduated from Michigan State University in1968, and soon after immersed herself in motherhood to daughters Kelly ’87 and Amy ’89. Upon moving to Hawai‘i in 1972, she became a teacher and then vice-principal at Our Lady of Sorrows School in Wahiawa. 

Liu was hired as a classroom teacher at ‘Iolani after an interview with former Headmaster Reverend David P. Coon in 1982. In that meeting, Liu and Reverend Coon would learn that they shared the same hometown, and the interview gently oscillated between talk of the job and talk of the old neighborhood. Almost 30 years later, the two still follow Michigan State athletics. 

 “I instantly made a connection with Pat,” Coon recalls. “Her gracious nature stood out immediately to me.  It took no genius to realize that Pat was going to be a great asset to ‘Iolani School.” 

Her first assignment was in Lower School Social Studies. It was the B.G. era at ‘Iolani or “Before Girls.” Her charges were a rambunctious group of young men, among them Tommy Otake ’93, Mike Moses ’93, and Dominic Ahuna ’93. It was a big task for the girl from Michigan as she was thrust into teaching the time-honored fourth grade Hawaiiana curriculum. Undaunted, Liu spearheaded the May Day, which included a luau, and learned the ethnic dances herself. She breaks out in laughter when she remembers computer teacher Dalton Sue, retired music teacher Norma Chun, and Director of the Audio Visual department Cyrus Won ’70 learning the Filipino Tinikling bamboo dance. She recalls, “We were practicing on campus and folks were coming around and laughing at us!”

The 2011 Ka Mo‘olelo O ‘Iolani yearbook was dedicated to Patricia Liu during a school assembly on May 24. Her family surprised her at the honor. Left to right: daughter Kelly Apisa Beck ’87, son-in-law Brett Hitzeman, granddaughter Katie Beck, daughter Amy Apisa Hitzeman ’89, Patricia Liu, grandson Jacob Isaia, and husband Clarence Liu.
Liu fondly remembers her early years at ‘Iolani, juggling family life with her job demands; she even fit in time to earn her master’s degree in education from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Her tenure as a full-time teacher, however, was short-lived as Reverend Coon had other plans for her. In 1987, she was named ‘Iolani’s first Associate Director of Admission under Reverend Paul Kennedy ’52 and later as Director of Admission in 1991.    

The field of admissions changes rapidly, and Liu expertly navigated the waters to meet a variety of challenges. Always prepared and ahead of the curve, Liu implemented ‘Iolani’s online application process ahead of all other private schools in Hawai‘i. She has worked diligently to make ‘Iolani’s “front door”, both figuratively and literally, the most welcoming and attractive in the islands. She came up with the idea to have ice cream socials for accepted candidates and their families, and she enlisted senior prefects and proconsuls to make congratulatory calls to these candidates. With her heart always for student welfare, Liu created the “Becoming A Raider” summer school course for newly accepted students, which helps them in their transition to the culture and expectations of ‘Iolani life. With Liu serving as lead teacher, more than 60 students have transitioned through the program and dozens more will follow in the future.

In her signature behind the scenes way, so much of what she does goes unnoticed because she draws so little attention to herself. 

Admission secretary Noe Chang says, “Pat has been able to keep ‘Iolani competitive in the admission process while acting with fairness, compassion, and integrity.” 

Director of Student Activities Kirk Uejio ’98 raves, “Mrs. Liu doesn’t take shortcuts and doesn’t settle for anything less than excellence. She is always thinking about how to improve things, how to reach the students in a more meaningful way, how to support each other, and how to make ‘Iolani a success in all facets.” 

Rev.Coon sums it up: “Because of Pat, ‘Iolani School has a reputation as a highly rated academic center that also cares for the growth and welfare of each individual student.”

In the field of school admissions—in which students with high personal standards and good citizenship are coveted—Pat Liu epitomizes both of these qualities herself  and so much more. With her focus on students and families, Liu is a stalwart example of the spirit of unselfish dedication to others. 


Headmaster Dr. Val Iwashita ’67 recognized Patricia Liu for her 27 years at ‘Iolani.
Headmaster Dr. Val Iwashita ’67 notes, “Her work has never been about Pat Liu; she epitomizes the One Team philosophy we espouse and what is best for ‘Iolani, and our program is always her focus.” 

Liu will move onto new seas this summer upon retirement. A new digital camera, a Mac Laptop, the morning paper, walks on the beach, children, grandchildren, and her parents are among her immediate areas of focus. Whatever the destination or endeavor, ‘Iolani wishes her a warm “Bon Voyage, Pat!”

Kelly Monaco served as ‘Iolani associate director of admission for ten years before being promoted to director of admission this summer.

Comments from Readers

  1. 5e08e8b623ee14e2ad5a8144db0d79d5
    Kim Yelas on 7/26/2011 at 3:44pm

    Congratulations, Pat, on a job well done.I always have admired your positive and sincere attitude in putting Iolani first.I don't ever remember you not having a smile on your face.Enjoy your retirement---you deserve it! :)

  2. 3b0eade452aa8b7643139da9d9fa1ce6
    Jane Exell on 7/27/2011 at 7:05am

    It is so heartwarming to see my sister be honored...she deserves it! She is a wonderful sister, mom, grandmother, auntie, and friend. We love you Patty!

  3. 701eaa64fe567158146587d8d2dfdd30
    Amy Apisa Hitzeman on 7/27/2011 at 11:40am

    We love you and are so proud of you, Mom! :)

  4. Ce553f88eb69316d54e49c79c2fb4baf
    Clarisse Lavatai on 7/27/2011 at 5:24pm

    Pat, you are the best! I will miss coming in for a quick hello when I am on campus. Now you will have all the time to get shoulder massages!
    Love, Clarisse

  5. B21fea193ca9a69b3071a074e8ec41ca
    George-Anne Derby on 7/27/2011 at 5:50pm

    Pat, you will be missed! Mahalo for all of the years that you so unselfishly gave to 'Iolani! I will remember your sense of humor, and your fabulous smile. I know that you will enjoy your retirement with your special family. You deserve the very best! Aloha, my friend

  6. D2d957a73b6e11900efbb7f60eef7f70
    Norma Chun on 7/28/2011 at 8:18am

    So, shall we perfect our tinikling steps?

  7. D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e
    Kelly Apisa Beck on 7/28/2011 at 9:40am

    Congratulations, Mom! Enjoy your retirement - you certainly deserve it! We love you and can't wait to spend more time with you!

  8. 4c3cdaf6c91904bea75f94e1f13bbebc
    aaron chaney on 7/29/2011 at 9:46am

    Pat, you are a true professional. There are so many kids that are grateful for the opportunity you afforded them by allowing them an Iolani education. You brought diversity to a school who needed it and it truly made Iolani a more special place to be. Your grace and personality made Iolani's admission process the best in Hawaii. This has been confirmed by many of my friends whose children go to Punahou and have had their kids apply to both. In their words, "Iolani's admission process makes you feel special. They make it much more personal than Punahou. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to Iolani. We will miss you dearly but at the same time wish you well and a happy and restful retirement.

  9. D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e
    Chris Otake on 8/1/2011 at 2:43pm

    Congratulations on a "job well done." Know you will be deeply missed!!! You have made an amazing contribution to the admissions program and especially to the lives you have touched of the many students. I feel blessed to call you friend. Aloha Chris

  10. 7caf5af6a17e3b8499d288dc080e155b
    Candy Zann on 8/4/2011 at 10:46am

    Patty...what a wonderful honor for a most deserving person! Kelly Monaco...thank you for writing so beautifully about my dear friend. It is so nice to know that we all agree that Patty is simply amazing!