Jan 152015

Students, faculty and staff need and deserve well-maintained and up-to-date facilities that support modern teaching, learning, innovation and scholarship.

By Chancellor Don Straney

Rendering of lab space in the future facilities of the College of Pharmacy at UH Hilo.

Rendering of lab space in the future facilities of the College of Pharmacy at UH Hilo.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is committed to providing our students and faculty with the labs and equipment needed to move our island and state into the future. Last month, we celebrated the groundbreaking of the new home for the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. This building establishes the pharmacy college as an integral part of the state of Hawaiʻi and is symbolic of the direction UH Hilo is going.

The $33 million, 35,000-square foot pharmacy building is an example of the progress the UH System is making with its 21st Century Facilities initiative to modernize facilities and campus environments across the state to be safe, sustainable and supportive of modern practices in teaching, learning and research.

Facilities and campus environments must support 21st century higher education expectations and practices. Students, faculty and staff need and deserve well-maintained and up-to-date facilities that support modern teaching, learning, innovation and scholarship.

We need to be sure our students are learning in the same type of modern environments in which they will be working. The university’s facilities must be fully digitally enabled, flexible in use, and be efficient with energy, water and waste.

Our labs, offices, and equipment must be able to support cutting edge research. New facilities like the upcoming pharmacy building open up possibilities for our students and faculty. The ability to do more pharmacy research will have a great impact on the state. Students will be ready to step into the health care jobs of the future because they will know what it’s like to work in a modern lab.

Moving our university fully into the 21st century also requires us to be supportive of deep collaborations with partners across the state, nation and the world.

For example, UH is currently updating the teaching telescopes on Maunakea to improve key facilities for training undergraduate and graduate students in astronomy.

In a historic collaboration, UH Mānoa, though the Institute for Astronomy, and UH Hilo, through our Department of Physics and Astronomy, are combining efforts to modernize the UH 2.2m and the UH Hilo Hoku Ke‘a observatories on Maunakea. These projects are state supported through capital improvement project funds and will result in stronger astronomy programs for both institutions.

In addition, having modernized equipment and labs means we can respond better to the needs of our community.

For example, when disaster strikes such as Tropical Storm Iselle, marine science researchers can respond better, do their analysis faster, and help a community in need more efficiently. The same goes for the UH Hilo geologists and geographers currently providing critical information about the Puna lava flow to Hawai‘i County Civil Defense.

The UH 21st Century Facilities initiative focuses on providing critical infrastructure for the university system. UH Hilo is committed to the task. It’s what a good university can and should do for its community, state and region.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year.


Don Straney

Dec 102014
David Lassner

David Lassner

Participants will have the opportunity to discuss and share their vision for Hawai‘i Community College – Pālamanui.

A public forum to discuss higher education in West Hawai‘i will be held Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, 5:30 p.m. at the Kealakehe High School cafeteria.

The forum is open to the West Hawai‘i community.  Participants will have the opportunity to discuss and share their vision for Hawai‘i Community College – Pālamanui, which is scheduled to open in fall 2015.

University of Hawai‘i President David Lassner and Vice President for Community Colleges John Morton will participate in the forum. They will share details about UH’s current presence in West Hawai‘i, as well as plans for the future.

“We look forward to the opening of Hawai‘i Community College – Pālamanui and the opportunities this will provide residents as a gateway to the statewide University of Hawai‘i System,” says Lassner.

Also attending will be UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney, West Hawaii’s head of the community college, Marty Fletcher, and Hawaii Community College chancellor Noreen Yamane.

Peter Hoffmann, a West Hawai‘i resident and a member of the University of Hawai‘i’s Board of Regents, is convening the meeting.

“I am very pleased that the community has this opportunity to discuss higher education possibilities with President Lassner and to become better aware of the great potential that the opening of Pālamanui will have for the residents of West Hawai‘i,” says Hoffman.

The public is invited to come, listen, and ask questions.  If you have questions you wish to submit in advance, please send them to moderator Sherry Bracken,  preferably by Wednesday night, at jbkslb@kona.net

-Adapted from UH press release

Nov 252014

UH Hilo needs to offer many opportunities for students to access scholarships to ensure that every young person on our island has access to higher education. To achieve that, we need the community’s help.

By Chancellor Don Straney 

Hilo sealStudents at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo are increasingly dependent on financial aid. While UH system policy established in 2011 called for an increase in the amount of tuition that is used to provide financial aid to our students, we recognize that even modest increases in costs can be a barrier to some. A high priority for us is to keep the UH system accessible to all eligible students in the state.

UH Hilo is blessed with donated funds for scholarships and other forms of aid that offset the impact of tuition increases. But we will need to increase scholarships over the next few years if we want to remain accessible to all our island students. To make college affordable to all, this must be a priority for our campus and for our community.

We know the university and local communities understand and care about the need to give access to as many students as possible. Studies show people who possess a college degree have a much higher lifetime earning potential than those who do not. People with a degree are better able to contribute to or build healthy communities.

But as tuition and other costs rise, higher education becomes less affordable to students from middle- and low-income families. Because of this, we need to do everything we can to give all qualified students access to the funds they need to attend the university.

Let me run some numbers by you.

We awarded $46 million in financial aid to our students last year. This is a tremendous increase from 10 years ago when we awarded $15 million. The bulk of the $46 million, almost 75%, is from state and federal grants and loans.

Institutional aid, which is the percentage of tuition I mentioned above (our intake of tuition was about $35 million last year), was increased from 15% to a cap of 20% of total tuition. It goes to need- and merit-based aid, and comes to about 11% of the total aid awarded.

Some students arrive at UH Hilo with financial aid they’ve received on their own. This would include sources like scholarships from their hometown Rotary Clubs or parents’ loans. This is about 12% of total aid.

The scholarships we are hoping to build are today less than 3% of the total aid awarded.

How do we increase financial aid for our students? How do we make UH Hilo accessible to all qualified students in our state?

UH Hilo needs to offer many opportunities for students to access scholarships to ensure that every young person on our island has access to higher education. To achieve that, we need the community’s help.

Behind every scholarship is an individual or a company that has a connection to UH Hilo and a desire to help our students. Individuals and organizations donate funds to UH Hilo for scholarships because they may see it as an investment in the future; scholarships enable more students to prepare to enter the workforce. Alumni donate funds because they may realize the importance of an education and want to pay forward the opportunities given them while at UH Hilo.

Longtime Hawaiʻi County Councilman Jimmy Arakaki and his wife Grace made a donation to establish an endowed scholarship to benefit business students. Audrey Furukawa, after her retirement from UH Hilo, established a scholarship endowment supporting study abroad opportunities. A charitable trust helps grow the Helene Hale “Citizen of the World” Scholarship Endowment.

It’s clear what a vitally important role private donors can play in opening up access to higher education. Scholarships support students to complete their education and contribute to their communities.

On behalf of our students, I’d like to take this opportunity to express gratitude to our donors. I hope members of our university and local communities, business people, alumni, and others will be inspired to make an investment in the future of our island by funding scholarships.

Nov 242014
Joey Estrella

Joey Estrella

Joey Estrella, former Vulcan baseball coach, will assume the position of interim athletic director at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo on Jan. 1, 2015.

“Now more than ever, successful intercollegiate athletic programs and a solid community partnership go hand-in-hand,” says Don Straney, chancellor. “With this appointment and the selection of a new (athletic director), strengthening that relationship between Vulcan athletics and the community will be job one.”

Estrella, who headed the Vulcan baseball program he founded for 37 years, brings extensive experience to the position. From 1980 to 1989 he served as both head baseball coach and athletic director. He also served as an assistant athletic director from 2009 until his retirement in 2013.

Estrella will replace Tim Moore, whose appointment as interim athletic director ends on Dec. 31, 2014.

The search for a permanent athletic director will begin in early January. The new permanent athletic director will succeed Dexter Irvin, who resigned at the end of 2013.

Nov 192014

A Message from the Chancellor

Hilo sealAloha,

Campuses around the country are facing an enrollment challenge today on how to recruit, retain, and graduate more students. I’m inviting you to share your ideas on how UH Hilo can do a better job on all three.

A limited pool of funds, some for one-time funding and some for continuing funding, is now being made available for these three purposes. Impact should be broad and have positive results within a 1-2 year time period. I will be asking the Long Range Budget Planning Committee to review and identify those ideas that will be effective and we will reach out to put together teams to implement them.

Please submit your ideas or brief concepts by December 2, 2014 to: vcadmin@hawaii.edu.

We will begin reviewing these ideas/concepts from the first week of December.

For more background, see Everyone has a role in growing enrollment at UH Hilo.

Thank you for your support and your good ideas.

Don Straney