Walter Dods Jr.

Walter A. Dods Jr. is one of the most influential businessmen and philanthropists in Hawaiʻi who’s been an active community volunteer and fundraiser since early in his career. In recognition of his $5 million gift in fall 2023, RISE was named the Walter Dods, Jr. RISE Center.

Born to a blue-collar, working-class family in Honolulu, Dods went to work after graduating from Saint Louis School. He later attended night classes at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa while working full time, graduating in 1967 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. In 1993, he was honored with the UH Distinguished Alumni Award.

He retired from First Hawaiian Bank in 2004 after a 36-year career with the bank, the last 15 years as chairman and CEO. A recognized industry leader, Dods was the National President of the American Bankers Association in 1996.

Dods’ philanthropic support of UH stretches back to 1975, when he was among the founders of the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation’s President’s Club to encourage support for UH from alumni, friends and community leaders. He served on the UH Foundation Board of Trustees, was its president from 1978 to 1980 and chaired the 1998 UH Campaign for Hawaiʻi that raised $116 million for the university.

Dods and his late wife, Diane, established the Walter A. and Diane N. Dods Endowed Scholarship Fund with a gift of $1 million, for students who are immigrants or children of immigrants. He also helped raise $1.6 million to establish the Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals and co-chaired the committee to establish the Senator Daniel K. Akaka Regents Scholarship Endowment.

In 2004, Dods was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, with Gold and Silver Star, an imperial honor from the Government of Japan.

Dods is currently the chairman of For UH • For Hawaiʻi, the public phase of the most ambitious comprehensive fundraising campaign in Hawaiʻi’s history with a goal to raise $1 billion for current and future students, faculty and researchers at all 10 UH campuses.