We’re building on accomplishments and continuing to serve the needs of Hilo and Hawai‘i Island.
This summer marks my fifth year as chancellor at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. As I look back on my first five years, I see great progress in some key areas I’d like to share with you.
In 2014, we opened three new buildings that give students the best learning environment possible. The new student services building houses all UH Hilo student support services in one central location. Hale ‘Alahonua student residence hall has 300 units in a trio of three-story wings with spacious common areas and courtyards.
We also opened the beautifully designed Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. And last fall, of importance to the entire state, the Office of the Governor released funding for construction of a permanent building for the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy.
In my first semester, the College of Hawaiian Language presented two doctorates in Hawaiian and indigenous language and culture revitalization, the first doctoral degrees awarded at UH Hilo. Since then, we’ve awarded over 400 doctoral degrees. Since fall of 2010, over 3,600 undergrads and master’s students—some of them the first from their ‘ohana to have a degree—have graduated and been launched on their careers, testimony to the value of a UH Hilo education.
Looking to answer the needs of our island and state, we developed a master of arts in heritage management (starting this fall), a master of arts in teaching (2013), a doctor of nursing practice (2012), doctor of philosophy in pharmaceutical sciences (2011), a bachelor of arts in pharmacy studies (2011), and a master of science in clinical psychopharmacology (2011).
And we added certificate programs in accounting, finance, Asia Pacific-U.S. economic relations, beekeeping, tropical farming, global engagement, STEM honors research, Chinese studies, and Filipino studies.
We’ve made great progress with applied learning opportunities. Through internships in local businesses, nonprofits, environmental organizations, STEM programs and more, our students are making a sizable impact, applying the knowledge they gain in the classroom to the real world.
We’ve also developed programs to help high school graduates prepare for higher education. Our new Summer Bridge programs are proving successful in mentoring new students in their transition from high school or community college into UH Hilo. In addition, our new Freshman Village program, which houses students with common majors together where they bond and create peer support systems, is significantly improving the chances of these students reaching graduation.
Our rangers have been monitoring daily activity on the summit, watching for unsafe or inappropriate activities, and responding to emergencies, 365 days a year.
We regularly monitor cultural sites, plant life, fauna, and regularly survey for invasive species. Our five-year study on the wēkiu bug is an example of detailed work UH can do as a steward of the resources on Maunakea.
The recent questions being raised about use of the mountain are prompting us to take an even more active role in reaffirming our commitment to protect the natural, cultural and scientific resources of the mountain through community-led management.
Looking to the future
Looking ahead, we have developed curriculum for an aviation program and are currently looking for a company to provide the training. We’ll be asking the Board of Regents for approval this year.
We’ve changed direction in planning an engineering degree and instead are redirecting our efforts toward developing a certificate program in energy science, a profession we see as crucial in moving our island and state forward in the emerging energy sector.
We’re developing course packages that will be marketed to mainland and international students who would like a one-year experience in Hawai‘i. Programs initially planned are in marine science, indigenous language, and tropical agriculture.
Two new directors have joined us. Our athletics program is on a new course with my recommendation of Patrick Guillen as our athletic director. Patrick brings a tremendous set of skills and leadership experience to our athletic program. He has a strong background in fostering excellence in student-athletes both on the field and in the classroom. He also has years of experience in effective fundraising and communication campaigns. He’s the right person at the right time to lead our Vulcan program forward.
And Lisa Hadway is the new director of the Conference Center. Lisa brings important qualities to this critical position, including extensive education and administrative experience in the fields of business and science. These skills will help the center maintain its reputation for world-class event management, global networking, and international partnerships that provide positive benefits to our Hawaiʻi Island communities.
UH Hilo continues to grow and flourish. We’re able to build on past accomplishments and continue to serve the needs of Hilo and Hawai‘i Island. Thank you for all your support and I look forward to working with you as we move forward.