Gulab and Indru Watumull Learning Commons

October 16, 2020

learning commonsHawai’i Pacific University is proud to announce the establishment of the Gulab and Indru Watumull Learning Commons, honoring the memory of Gulab Watumull, through his family’s generous commitment of $250,000 to the University’s libraries. The Gulab and Indru Watumull Learning Commons is fundamental to serving our students’ educational needs and enhancing the academic quality of the University.

Gulab Watumull had a lifelong passion for education - and he made it possible for many others through grants, scholarships and endowments. That makes this memorial gift to HPU’s students especially meaningful to his legacy; as it will serve as a full-service comprehensive learning, research, and technology center for future generations of students.

Born, raised and educated in India with degrees in both engineering and business, Gulab came to Hawai’i in 1948 and joined his family’s business: the Watumull’s retail shop in Honolulu on Fort Street. He went on to become head of Watumull Brothers Ltd in 1956, building a small group of retail shops into a chain of 30 stores dealing exclusively in Hawaiian wear. The Watumull name became synonymous with Aloha apparel, which is a foundational part of modern Hawaiian culture and history. A vintage Watumull's shirt from the 1940s is now a collector’s item, fetching as much as $1850. With three of his children (J.D., Vik and Jojo), Gulab eventually diversified into real estate in Hawai’i and on the mainland.

Gulab served on several non-profit boards, including the Bishop Museum, Hawaii Community Foundation, Board of Regents and Board of Governors at Chaminade University, Planned Parenthood, Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation, and others. He also managed and administered the funds of the J. Watumull Fund, which is focused primarily on supporting education. His family’s generosity in supporting the HPU library system in his name is a fitting legacy for his life’s work.

“On any given day, the Learning Commons serves up to 200 students, working together across disciplines and building community engagement,” says HPU president John Gotanda. “It’s become a vital gathering spot for our students and faculty. We could not be prouder to name it for Gulab and Indru, not only to honor his and his family’s philanthropic priorities of education and multiculturalism, but also to make clear our ongoing commitment to a global perspective in all of our educational endeavors.”