Renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly receives honorary degree

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Diane Chang, (808) 956-0391
Chancellor's Office
Posted: Feb 29, 2012

University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw, on behalf of the UH Board of Regents, recently conferred upon Dale Chihuly—one of the best-known artists in the world who has been credited with reinventing the art of glassblowing in the U.S.—an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in Seattle, Washington. Also in attendance at the February 24 ceremony from UH Mānoa were Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education Gary Ostrander, Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities Tom Bingham, and Rick Mills from the Department of Art and Art History. Chihuly was nominated for this honor by UH Mānoa faculty Mills, Gaye Chan and Jaime Hamilton. 
During their visit to confer the degree, the group also met former UH Mānoa students now working in Chihuly’s glass-blowing facility. 
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to confer this Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree upon Dale Chihuly,” said Chancellor Hinshaw during the conferral ceremony. “We appreciate his contributions to education and our campus—and note that UH Mānoa’s recommendation to award the degree was unanimously approved by our Board of Regents.” 
On behalf of the campus, Vice Chancellor Ostrander also presented Chihuly with a special gift of an engraved koa wood paddle. “It represents the beauty and skills needed to create an artwork from natural resources and the many international shores that canoes and paddles have touched—just as Dale’s beautiful and skilled artwork has touched all of us internationally, having a significant impact on art and art history,” said Vice Chancellor Ostrander.
Chihuly is an internationally renowned glass artist whose contributions and influence in the art realm have changed the practice of glass arts and the education of glass artists.   His glass work can be seen in more than 200 museums and his public installations have crossed over 32 states and 22 countries. He was born in Tacoma, Washington, and received his bachelor of arts in interior design from the University of Washington in 1965. On full scholarship, he then attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison to study glassblowing under Harvey Littleton in the first glass program in the nation. He later received his master of science in sculpture and master of fine arts in ceramics.
During his education, he was awarded a Fulbright fellowship that gave him the opportunity to become the first American glassblower to work at the prestigious Venini Fabrica in Italy. With his continuing knowledge and experience, he later returned to establish a glass program at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1971, he opened the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. It is the first glass school that fostered a working environment focused on teamwork, rather than the solitary artist, and has become a gathering place for international artists with diverse backgrounds. The environment continues to inspire artists nationally and internationally.
Chihuly has created more than a dozen well-known series of works, among them Cylinders and Baskets in the 1970s; Seaforms, Macchia, Venetians, and Persians in the 1980s; Niijima Floats and Chandeliers in the 1990s; and Fiori in the 2000s. He is also celebrated for large architectural installations. In 1986, he was honored with a solo exhibition, Dale Chihuly objets de verre, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, in Paris. In 1995, he began Chihuly Over Venice, for which he created sculptures at glass factories in Finland, Ireland and Mexico, then installed them over the canals and piazzas of Venice.
According to the Chihuly’s website,, his current and upcoming exhibitions include those at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Fort Collins Museum of Art in Colorado, City Center’s Gallery in Las Vegas, Halcyon Gallery in London and Dallas Arboretum in Texas. He is currently preparing the world’s largest Chihuly exhibition, “Chihuly Garden and Glass,” to be located at the Seattle Space Needle in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the 1962 World’s Fair.    
Photo caption: From left, UH Mānoa Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities Tom Bingham, Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education Gary Ostrander, Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw, faculty member Rick Mills from the Department of Art and Art History, and Dale Chihuly, who holds a gift of an engraved koa wood paddle, at Chihuly’s conferral ceremony in Seattle, Washington. The noted glass artist was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters on February 24, 2012.