Scholarship honoring Dr. Gary Helfand established for Public Administration

Snip from a web page with words Dr. Gary Helfand Memorial Public Administration Scholarship and a photo of the UH West Oahu library shot from the campus center plaza

A scholarship in memory of Dr. Gary Helfand has been established to support UH West Oʻahu students enrolled in the Public Administration program.

Helfand, a valued member of UH West Oʻahu faculty, passed away in February. He spent more than 33 years with the school, creating UH West Oʻahu’s Justice Administration Program and serving as director of the Justice Administration concentration within the Public Administration Division. He also is credited as establishing  the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management program with Dr. Ross Prizzia, and once served as UH West Oʻahu’s Faculty Senate Chair.

Headshot of Dr. Gary Helfand with Library tower in the background

Dr. Gary Helfand

The scholarship was set up by Prizzia, a Professor of Public Administration, who worked closely with Helfand, authoring or co-authoring journal articles and chapters in books together. Prizzia said Helfand made numerous contributions to faculty, students, the UH West Oʻahu campus, and the community.

“Dr. Helfand dedicated his life and career to UHWO for over 33 years and was an extraordinary scholar, colleague, caring friend, and an outstanding mentor,” the scholarship webpage states. “He touched the lives of many and had a positive impact on everyone who knew him, those in the community, at UH, and especially students and graduates who went onto successful careers because of his teachings.”

Prizzia said he set up the Dr. Gary Helfand Memorial Public Administration Scholarship and made the first donation to it and that in less than two weeks the scholarship fund received donations from 10 others with the total swelling to more than $3,000. Donations can be made through the UH Foundation scholarship page.

Helfand passed away peacefully on Feb. 4 after suffering complications from a surgery in August. Helfand joined the UH West Oʻahu faculty in 1987 when the school was known as West Oʻahu College. He is remembered as extraordinary person who had a positive effect on those who knew or came in contact with him. As a professor of Justice Administration in UH West Oʻahu’s Public Administration Division, Helfand taught courses ranging from Administrative Law to Principles of Public Administration to Media, Violence and Crime.

Before coming to UH West Oʻahu, he served as an associate professor of Public Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Public Affairs. His other work include positions as director of the Urban Health Management Program at St. John’s University in New York, and director of Academic Affairs for the College Accelerated Program for Police, New York Institute of Technology.

Helfand received his doctorate in Public Administration from New York University in 1978 and also had a Master of Public Administration from Bernard Baruch College.  He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Queens College (CUNY).

Besides his academic accomplishments, Helfand also was a talented pianist and had toured the country in his teens giving performances. Helfand’s wife Diana, and son, Jody, both are lecturers at UH West Oʻahu.   

Images courtesy of UH Foundation and UHWO Staff