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Helen Varner gets IABC Lifetime Achievement Honor

by Kalamalama staff


The International Association of Business Communicators Hawai‘i Chapter honored Dr. Helen Varner, dean of the College of Communication at HPU, with a Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual Ilima Awards dinner April 8 at the Hale Koa Hotel. Varner is only the second person to receive this significant honor from the Hawai‘i professional chapter of IABC in 34 years since the chapter’s founding. The award recognizes an individual in Hawai‘i who has served as a role model and has demonstrated sustained leadership, initiative, and commitment to the field of communication by actively supporting the development of the profession and communication professionals.

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“Dr. Varner is a dynamic communicator, educator, and dean,” said Chatt G. Wright, president of Hawai‘i Pacific University. “She is the architect of HPU’s highly respected College of Communication and fully dedicates herself to one goal: the success of her students. Dr. Varner is most deserving of this Lifetime Achievement Award from the IABC of Hawai‘i.”


Puja Hudelist, IABC-Hawai‘i president said: “Anyone who has worked with Helen knows she is a force to be reckoned with. She can turn any situation into a learning opportunity for her students.... I’ve never met anyone so resourceful!”

In 1991 when Varner joined the HPU faculty, Hawai‘i Pacific offered one course in communication. Varner initiated the first communication degree program in 1992, the B.S.B.A. in Corporate Communication. The program evolved into the Communication Division in 1994 with the addition of the B.A. in Communication. Today, the College serves 555 students and offers degrees in advertising, corporate communication, public relations, and journalism, as well as a Master of Arts in Communication.

As Dean, Varner oversees faculty and curriculum for the College of Communication, teaches undergraduate- and graduate-level courses, and coordinates the internship program. She serves as faculty advisor to the student chapter of IABC.

She served as faculty advisor to the HPU student chapter of the American Advertising Federation for 10 years, during which time HPU’s AAF student team won seven District 13 championships and competed nationally at the annual AAF Student Advertising Competition.

Varner received the HPU “Trustee’s Award for Teaching Excellence” in 1995 and was named “Women Leader of the Year” by the Organization of Women Leaders in 1996. She holds an undergraduate degree in public relations and a graduate degree in communication from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas and a doctorate from Texas A&M University.


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