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Joseph I. Bakken served as Mid-Pacific’s principal and president from 1941-1965.

By Heidi Kim ’91

Over the summer, Mid-Pacific was honored to welcome Richard Bakken and his family back to campus. Richard is the son of Mid-Pacific principal and president Joseph I. Bakken, who led Mid-Pacific from 1941 to 1965. Bakken’s strong leadership saw Mid-Pacific through historic times: World War II, post-war Hawai‘i, statehood, as well as the devastating Wilcox Dormitory fire, major campus build-out and, in Bakken’s final year, Mid-Pacific’s centennial celebration.

Mid-Pacific alumni from the Bakken years may recall seeing a young Richard and his sister, Ingrid, around campus. Richard has many fond memories of growing up in Mānoa, including adventurous excursions up the Tantalus hillside. His recent visit to Mid-Pacific was his family’s first stop on a tour of his old ‘stomping grounds’ of Mānoa Valley, Roosevelt High School, Punchbowl, and Downtown Honolulu.

Richard Bakken and his wife Karen now live in Seattle,Washington. Their summer family vacation to Hawai‘i, including their three children, their spouses, and three grandchildren, celebrated Richard’s milestone 80th birthday.

For today’s students, the Bakken name and legacy lives on, memorialized in one of Mid-Pacific’s best-known buildings, the Joseph I. Bakken Auditorium. Says Richard of Mid-Pacific, “This is a very special place for our family and to see the school continuing to thrive would I’m sure make my father very proud.”