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

Mar 182016

Chancellor Don Straney hosted a social gathering on Wednesday to welcome new faculty to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.


(l-r) Newcomer Shugeng Cao, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, and Carolyn Ma, interim dean of the College of Pharmacy. Click photos to enlarge.


Bios for UH Hilo’s new faculty and staff:

MichelleMichelle Agbigay: Administrative and Fiscal Support Specialist, Facilities Planning and Construction.
Previous positions: Project Coordinator, Kamehameha Schools—Hawai‘i Culture-Based Education; Project Support Specialist, UH Hilo, Housing Office; Project Coordinator, SSFM International Inc-Hilo Branch Office.
Academic background: Attending Leeward Community College, Accounting; LEED Green Associate Certification.

JeanneJeanne Batallones: Counselor, Student Support Services Program.
Previous positions: Native Hawaiian Transfer and Career Guidance Counselor, Halaulani Transfer Success Center, Hawai‘i Community College; Counselor/Instructor, Gateway to College Program and Department Chair, Philippine Studies, City College of San Francisco.
Academic background: BA, Asian American Studies, and MS, Counseling (college emphasis), San Francisco State University.

ShugengShugeng Cao: Associate Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Academic focus: Biologically active natural products from marine and terrestrial fungi and bacteria in Hawai‘i; manipulating silent genes; herbal medicine; small molecules with biological functions in bacteria.
Previous positions: Assistant Professor, University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center; Instructor, Harvard Medical School; Senior Research Fellow, Virginia Tech.
Academic background: PhD, National University of Singapore; Postdoctoral Fellow, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School.

GeorgeGeorge Karvas: Instructor, Pharmacy Practice.
Academic focus: pharmacy practice.
Previous position: Pharmacy Manager, Longs/CVS Punahele.
Academic background: BS, Pharmacy, Oregon State University (1991).

OscarOscar Larican: Office Assistant, Business Office.
Previous positions: Service Assistant, Big Island Honda–Hilo; Customer Representative, Homestreet Bank Queen Anne, Seattle; Senior Consultant, Usbank Corp.
Academic background: business computer network tech training; financial banking background experience.

MorganMorgan Light: Evening Circulation Supervisor, Mookini Library.
Previous positions: Associate Librarian, Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Santa Fe, NM; self-employed piano tuner, Los Alamos, NM.
Academic background: Support Staff Certification, American Library Association (2014); Library Technology, Northern New Mexico College (2010); AA, Art and Biology, University of New Mexico (2009).

MonicaMonica Morita: Compliance Coordinator/Senior Women Administrator, Athletics.
Previous positions: Executive Assistant, University of Hawai‘i Football; Assistant Athletic Director/Director of Student Services, USC Athletics Stevens Academic Center; Assistant to the Head Football Coach, USC; Student Advisor, Masters Programs, USC Leventhal School of Accounting.
Academic background: AB, Journalism–Public Relations, MPA, and EdD, University of Southern California.

JenniferJennifer Naguwa: Admissions Counselor, Student Affairs.
Previous positions: GEAR UP Assistant Project Manager, Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education; Senior Program Assistant, Hawai‘i Community Foundation.
Academic background: BBA and Masters in Education Administration, Higher Ed (in progress), UH Manoa.

Lukela Ruddle: Cultural Resources Management Plan Manager, Office of Maunakea Management.
Previous position: Community Outreach Coordinator, Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Academic background: BA, English, UH Hilo.

TimothyTimothy Scheffler: Instructor, Anthropology.
Academic focus: human paleoeconomy and historical ecology.
Previous positions: Instructor, Tropical Ecosystem and Agroforestry Management Program (Forest TEAM), Hawai‘i Community College; Independent archaeological and geological contractor, Geohazards Consultants International, Inc.
Academic background: PhD, Penn State University (2008).

JoleneJolene Sutton: Assistant Professor, Biology.
Academic focus: genetics.
Previous position: Postdoctoral Researcher, UH Manoa.
Academic background: PhD,University of Otago; MSc, Acadia University; BSc (Honors), Memorial University of Newfoundland.


-Bio information from the March issue of Ka Lono Hanakahi, UH Hilo’s faculty newsletter.