The Linfield University Board of Trustees has unanimously approved a resolution to add Ranette Kamaka of Kaneohe, Hawaii, and Marcy Hamby Towns of West Lafayette, Indiana, to their ranks.
“These two new board members represent the commitment of the Board of Trustees to make sure we include diverse perspectives and lived experiences in our decision-making processes,” said Lucinda Day Fournier ’95, chair of the Committee on Trustees. “Dr. Towns and Mrs. Kamaka bring a deep connection to the institution, as well as fresh viewpoints to the Linfield University Board of Trustees.”
A lifelong resident of Oahu, Kamaka has spent her 34-year career serving the state of Hawaii. She currently works in the state’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Kamaka is the first Hawaiian resident to serve on Linfield’s Board of Trustees.
“Coming from Hawaii and having a chance to bring the ‘spirit of Aloha’ to the Board of Trustees for the first time is such an honor,” she said.
No stranger to Linfield University, two of her children, son Christopher ’12 and daughter Ihilani (Kamaka) Biondine ’15, graduated from Linfield, and two nieces are current Wildcats.
“My son and daughter are proud graduates of Linfield,” she said. “It has prepared them for a bright future. I would love to see more students from Hawaii and all over the globe gain the same experience.”
Both of her children were involved with the Hawai’i Club during their time at Linfield, and as active parent volunteers, the Kamakas hosted luau preparations in their home for seven years.
“We loved having parents and alumni come over to spend the day packing, washing foliage and having a wonderful potluck,” she said. “I have made a lifetime of friends being part of the Linfield Ohana. Being a member of the board is one way that I can give back to Linfield what I have gained as a parent.”
It is a perspective that appealed greatly to Linfield’s Board of Trustees.
“Ranette Kamaka has been engaged with Linfield for more than ten years as a parent of former students and a significant supporter of Linfield’s annual luau,” Fournier said. “We expect her to have a keen eye for how the Board of Trustees can enhance the student experience at Linfield.”
Marcy Hamby Towns ’84
Towns, a nationally recognized science educator and distinguished alumna, is currently the Bodner-Honig Professor of Chemistry and faculty athletic representative at Purdue University. Her research focuses on factors that affect how students learn chemistry.
“Dr. Towns brings to the board academic and scientific expertise, and as the faculty athletic representative at Purdue, brings extensive experience with NCAA requirements,” Fournier said.
After graduating from Linfield with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and mathematics in 1984, Towns earned a master’s degree in chemical education in 1990 and doctorate in physical chemistry in 1994, both from Purdue. She taught at Ball State University from 1995-2006, earning the rank of full professor in 2002. She returned to Purdue as a faculty member in 2006.
Throughout her career, Towns has been recognized as a leading educator and scholar. She was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2009 and an American Chemical Society fellow in 2012. In addition, she received Purdue’s Distinguished Women Scholar award in 2017. To date, Towns has been published more than 60 times, has 1,600 citations of scholarship and has given more than 100 national and international presentations.
“My career and its trajectory are rooted in the outstanding education I received as a student at Linfield,” Towns said. “I had many professors who cared about me as a person and pushed me to learn more about the world. That stance of caring about the person and wanting to help them learn is something I’ve carried with me into my career.”
Towns comes from a family of Wildcats – her parents and brother are alumni and her father, Drannan Hamby, spent his entire academic career teaching chemistry at Linfield. While at Linfield, Towns was a member of the 1980 women’s swim team and Phi Sigma Sigma sorority. She was recognized as Linfield’s Distinguished Alumna Award in 2015.
“We are in an extraordinary time, a time of great challenges for the university, its students, faculty and administrators,” Towns said. “It is an honor to be able to give back to Linfield by helping navigate these changes and sustain Linfield for future generations of students.”