Jul 072016

With a $25,000 grand prize, the HIplan competition will stimulate an entrepreneurial ecosystem on Hawai‘i Island to create jobs for our young people including UH Hilo graduates.

By Don Straney.


JIm Wyban

JIm Wyban

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is the site of a business plan competition designed to encourage economic development on Hawai‘i Island.

With a $25,000 grand prize, the intent of the Hawaii Island Business Plan Competition or HIplan is to stimulate an entrepreneurial ecosystem on Hawai‘i Island to create new and improved jobs for our young people including UH Hilo graduates. This aligns well with UH Hilo’s mission to encourage economic development on Hawai‘i Island.

Kelly Moran

Kelly Moran

The project is co-chaired by two UH alumni and long-time entrepreneurs—aquaculture pioneer Jim Wyban and real estate broker Kelly Moran—and is being administered by the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce.

Ka‘iu Kimura, director of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and current president of the chamber, says that with HIplan, the chamber hopes to create an opportunity for local businesses—new, young, and aspiring businesses—to become competitive and hopefully spark a thriving and progressive entrepreneurial ecosystem for our island.

Kaiu Kimura

Ka‘iu Kimura

The HIplan competition will provide an opportunity to bring the new business plans “to the table” for the university and business community to see how we can continue to create and build a strong and thriving economy for Hawai‘i Island.

Initial sponsors of the competition include the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i Authority and the Ulupono Initiative.

Jim and Kelly are taking the lead on organizing and fundraising.


Emmeline de Pillis

Jim is an aquaculture pioneer who helped develop pathogen-free shrimp varieties that helped to quadruple global production. Kelly, a UH Hilo alumnus with degrees in tropical agriculture and political science, is a 30-year real estate veteran and teaches real estate finance at the UH Hilo College of Business and Economics.

Emmeline de Pillis, a professor of management and director of the Office of Applied Learning at UH Hilo, says she’s thrilled to be working with Jim and Kelly on the project. She notes the fantastic opportunity for UH Hilo students and Hawai‘i Island residents.

The competition

The competition is open to anyone to present their plan for a Hawai‘i Island business, either startups or expanding business, for-profit or non-profit, from astronomy and agriculture to technology and tourism. As long as the business plan is Hawai‘i Island-based, it qualifies.

UH Hilo students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to enter.

To supplement the competition, UH Hilo is offering an online for-credit business planning course over the summer. And the UH Hilo Small Business Development Center is providing consulting and a series of short workshops to help competitors prepare their plans.

My hope is that budding entrepreneurs from around the island—from high school and university students to budding entrepreneurs to established business people—will take advantage of the educational sessions and competition process. It’s a great opportunity to work with local experts to develop a new and exciting business plan.

Entries for the competition are now being accepted with a Sept. 1 submission deadline.

Final presentations will be held Nov. 6 at UH Hilo. I invite everyone in the local business community to attend the final event so you can see firsthand the new technologies and business ideas that will create Hawaii Island’s future entrepreneurial ecosystem.

For more information on the competition and to download entry forms, visit the HIplan website.

Knowing the formidable amount of brainpower and creativity in our community, we look forward to seeing the ideas that come out of the competition. Good luck to all competitors!


Don Straney

May 022016

We can live up to our promise of diversity and inclusion only if we ensure that all individuals—students, faculty and staff—regardless of gender, have the opportunity to excel.

By Chancellor Don Straney

Hilo sealThe Exploring Diversity and Gender Equity (EDGE) project at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has completed its first two-year phase toward building a more conducive campus environment to recruit, retain and promote women faculty in science and engineering careers.

EDGE at UH Hilo is funded by the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program, which seeks to increase the participation and advancement of women faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields—a challenge directed at universities across the country—in order to develop a more diverse and therefore more globally competitive workforce. This is a challenge our local businesses face as well in hiring skilled employees on the island.

I serve as principal investigator of our program and Misaki Takabayashi, professor of marine science who currently serves as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, is co-PI. Terrilani Chong is project administrator.

There is an important long-term goal here. Increasing the participation of women in STEM fields on our campus will strengthen the university in many ways—in our research, teaching, and community outreach—ensuring that all members of our university ‘ohana can fully participate in the increasingly global environment of higher education. In turn, this expands the impact that UH Hilo students, faculty and alumni have in the world.


The first phase of the UH Hilo EDGE project, through a series of surveys and focus groups, identified key challenges faced by our female STEM faculty in regard to their career advancement.

Overall, the findings suggest that the retention of female faculty is more of a challenge than their selection. These challenges include 1) unclear criteria for promotion and leadership roles, 2) gender salary inequities, 3) a negative approach toward women in STEM departments, 4) lack of childcare and family leave, and 5) lack of strong connection with the local environment and communities.

Both female and male faculty find it a challenge to balance career and personal life. The perception of gender inequity in career opportunities was found to be more pronounced among ethnically underrepresented faculty.

Not surprisingly, a general concern by junior faculty was Hilo’s social environment that many found to be lacking, especially for single faculty. Several participants in focus groups mentioned that Hilo is a better option for coupled faculty, implying that duo-career hires might be an advantage for supporting retention at UH Hilo.


We can live up to our promise of a diverse and inclusive institution only if we ensure that all individuals—students, faculty and staff—regardless of gender, have the opportunity to excel.

As we conclude phase one of our EDGE project, we are looking to build on the findings. We’ve recently submitted a new proposal for a second ADVANCE grant to design and implement activities and policy that will address our challenges in recruiting, retaining, and promoting female STEM faculty. During the next phase of the project we will look at possible approaches we could take, including taking a look at best practices at other universities.

With our island offering a uniquely diverse cultural and geographical environment, we are a very attractive institution from a STEM faculty point of view. We want to be attracting, retaining and advancing the best and brightest faculty, both female and male. We want the concept of a “UH Hilo ‘ohana” to be more than just a catch phrase—we want both women and men faculty to feel valued and supported by UH Hilo, the UH community, and the Hawai‘i Island community, with an abundance of opportunities for career advancement no matter the gender.


Don Straney

Apr 222016

Fifteen students from public and private high schools in Hawai‘i have been awarded the prestigious 2016 Chancellor’s Scholarship at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

Hilo sealThe 2016 recipients and their high schools:

  • Brooke Adamson, Hawai‘i Technology Academy
  • Keion Anderson, Leilehua High
  • Kateleen Caye Bio, Maui High
  • Lucas DeRego, Kamehameha Schools – Hawai‘i Island
  • Savannah Directo, Kea‘au High
  • Orion Friels, Kealakehe High
  • Kristie Hirai, Mililani High
  • Austin Inouye, Kaimuki High
  • Kristen Ishii, Mililani High
  • Yukio Ishii, Kamehameha Schools – Hawai‘i Island
  • Mary Kealaiki, Kea‘au High
  • Lorelei Taylor Padasdao, Kea‘au High
  • Jodie Tokihiro, Waiakea High
  • Zoe Whitney, Maui High
  • Ivana Yoon, Waiakea High

Valued in excess of $26,500, the award covers four years of tuition for students graduating from a Hawai‘i high school who earned either a grade point average of at least 3.5, a combined 1800 SAT (reading, writing, math) or a composite score of 27 on the ACT while demonstrating leadership and/or community service.

All Chancellor Scholars are required to enroll as full-time students and earn a minimum of 24 credits each academic year. They must also maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and participate in leadership activities and/or community services with other Chancellor Scholars.

Media release

Apr 142016

The deadline for submission of applications is May 5.

Hilo sealApplications for the 2016-2017 Chancellor’s Professional Development Fund are now being accepted. The application form, rubric and guidelines are available at the Professional Development Committee website.

The purpose of the Chancellor’s Professional Development Fund is to provide opportunities for continued professional growth and development for faculty and staff, with a special emphasis on development that will have far-reaching impacts on our campus.

The deadline for submission of applications is Thursday, May 5, 2016, at 4:00 pm.

Apr 012016

The classroom, campus and local community comprise an interconnected educational environment to which we all—individually and collectively—can make valuable contributions.

By Don Straney

Group standing together.

A collaborative contingent of faculty, staff and students from UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College attended the 4th Annual Hawai‘i Sustainability in Higher Education Summit held March 10-12 in Honolulu. Front row: Ted Le Jeune, Norman Arancon, Michelle Agbigay, and UH Hilo students Briki Cajandig, Adrienne Gurbindo, and Victoria Haili. Back row: UH Hilo student Zach Solarte, Ryan Perroy, Skye, Shihwu Sung, Miguel Bravo Escobar, Wes Owens, and UH Hilo student Kimo Melcher. Courtesy photo.

SummitLast month, a contingent from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College attended the 4th Annual Hawai‘i Sustainability in Higher Education Summit held in Honolulu. The annual event provides a platform for leaders in sustainability across the state to share best practices, network, and engage with the university.

Food waste and recycling, baseline accounting to measure progress, energy reduction, and ways to better engage the campus communities in sustainability efforts were discussed at the statewide summit. There were four working sessions: Campus Sustainability Planning, Curriculum Coordination, Student Leadership, and Strategic Energy Management.

A wide range of experts and students from UH Hilo and Hawai‘i CC attended the various sessions and the takeaways were invaluable to our continued progress with energy savings and sustainability measures.

Ryan Perroy, assistant professor of geography and chair of the UH Hilo Energy Savings and Sustainability Committee, attended the campus sustainability planning sessions along with UH Hilo economics and finance major Victoria Haili and Associate Professor of Horticulture Norman Arancon who specializes in sustainable agriculture. They heard reports from all the different campuses about varied approaches to hitting the sustainability targets outlined in the UH Board of Regents sustainability policy.

UH Hilo Professor of Applied Engineering Shihwu Sung attended the curriculum coordination sessions, facilities planner Ted Le Jeune and fiscal specialist Michelle Agbigay attended the strategic energy management sessions, and students Kimo Melcher (environmental science major) and Adrienne Gurbindo (environmental studies major), attended the student leadership sessions.

While a work in progress on each campus, headway on sustainability is being made. UH Hilo is leading the way in some areas, including establishing and using our Energy Reinvestment Project Account, created by Lo-Li Chih, UH Hilo director of facilities planning. The account is designed to take the financial savings from energy efficiency projects and use it to fund additional on-campus energy projects—a model other campuses are considering.

During the summit, UH Hilo electrician Kevin Hand was awarded the President’s Award for Excellence in Sustainable Facilities Management, which is a system-wide award.

The award is well deserved for all the hard and innovative work Kevin has been doing on energy-savings activities on campus, including the campus-wide LED retrofit project now under way. Existing light fixtures in classrooms, offices, and hallways throughout campus are being replaced or retrofitted with energy efficient LED lights.

In addition to the LED project, UH Hilo, with its Energy Savings and Sustainability Committee, is also continuing with several sustainability measures, for example:

  • The Local First program continues to be a big success—UH Hilo is the only UH campus that serves 65 percent locally produced food in the campus dining rooms.
  • The energy reduction program reduces plug load energy consumption, increases machine and electronic operational efficiency, and reduces peak-hour demand.
  • The electrical systems of the new Student Services Building are designed to ensure energy efficient operations and earned LEED Silver certification.

Our annual Earth Day Fair is happening April 22 in collaboration with Hawai‘i Community College (Ryan Perroy is co-chair with Claudia Wilcox-Boucher from Hawai‘i CC). The event will bring well over 1,000 local area students to campus and this year will have a number of events designed specifically for undergraduates. This includes a panel on local and sustainable food production and multiple speakers who will discuss sustainability and energy issues.

Sustainability is an island-wide goal for which all of us should do our part. The classroom, campus and local community comprise an interconnected educational environment to which we all—individually and collectively—can make valuable contributions.

For UH Hilo and Hawai‘i CC’s part, we will continue to work closely with the local community to fully understand how we can best answer community and business needs within the context of sustainability in order to help shape a better future for our island and state.


Don Straney