Chuck Gee can be remembered as someone that was always there for his students.
Gee, co-founder and longest serving dean of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s School of Travel Industry Management, died on May 17. Gee served as TIM dean from 1976 to 1999, and he also served on the Board of Regents from 2009 to 2015.
The board honored Gee with the Regents Medal of Distinction during its May 16 meeting.
“He’s one of those people who never seemed to age,” Dave Evans, chair of Hospitality and Tourism Education at Kapi‘olani Community College, said. “He was just always ageless, and so to imagine him not around anymore, it’s hard to fathom. He’s just one of those people that you would always think would be around.”
Impact on TIM
Gee came to UH as a visiting professor for the College of Tropical Agriculture in 1967, and helped established TIM Night to give students first-hand experience in the travel industry management field.
Evans, an alumnus of the TIM school, said that he never had Gee as a professor or adviser, but he still developed a connection with him.
“He just generally seemed to just care about us, and again, I never had him as a faculty member, and my interactions with him are basically, seeing him walking through the halls during school,” Evans said. “How he got to know who the heck we were, kind of amazing.”
In 2014, Gee was named to the Pacific Asia Travel Association Gallery of Legends for establishing a legacy and connections worldwide in the travel industry through education, training and research. He also received the Award of Excellence for Tourism Education from the National Tourism Administration of the People’s Republic of China and PATA‘s Presidential Award and Grand Award for Individual Educational Accomplishment.
“He was a man of great vision and great integrity who inspired thousands of students to pursue and excel in the visitor industry,” Interim TIM Dean Thomas Bingham said. “He will be missed by the TIM School and by our industry.”
In 2018, the university established the C. Yim Gee Sustainable Tourism Research Fund in honor of his 85th birthday. Gee’s vision for the fund was to encourage students and faculty to explore sustainable tourism in areas such as Hawai‘i, Asia and the Pacific.