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Category: Community Gatherings

Hamakua celebrates launch of rural outreach program at UH Hilo’s North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center

UH Hilo’s North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center in Honoka‘a now offers Hamakua residents access to 38 state agencies.

Hamakua celebrates the launch of new rural outreach services now available at UH Hilo's North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center in Honoka‘a.

HONOKA‘A – Hamakua residents will now receive state outreach services from 38 agencies through a new project located at UH Hilo’s North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center in Honoka‘a. The community gathered on Thursday to celebrate the launch of the new project. The Rural Outreach Services initiative is a partnership between federal, state, county governments, and private non-profit agencies. The wide range of services include, among other issues, job training, health care, housing, and agriculture.

“Rural Outreach Services is an initiative that will turn lives around,” said Rep. Mark Nakashima, a member of the initiative’s coordinating committee, who also sits on the advisory board for NHERC. “Because of the long distances that people need to travel on the Big Island, many residents have not been getting the services they need, whether it is job-related, housing, or even health care.”

The Rural Outreach Services initiative is a public-private partnership of agencies supported by the DLIR Workforce Development Division, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, Hamakua Partners in Eldercare, Hawai‘i County’s Kapulena Lands project, and the Department of Education’s East and West Hawai’i Community School for Adults.

“We are creating an opportunity to better serve the rural communities of North Hawai‘i, which will be a model for other rural areas across the state,” said DLIR Director Dwight Takamine, also a member of the coordinating committee for Rural Outreach Services. “This is a truly community-driven effort to address barriers to services by empowering rural communities.”

Services will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis, with no appointments necessary.

During the month of July, one agency will be available at the center on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Agency availability will increase beginning August. For more information and a schedule of upcoming services, workshops and conferences, contact the North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center at 775-8890. A calendar of events is posted at:

The first workshop on entrepreneurial opportunities will take place at the center on July 27, 2011. It is being provided by Hawai‘i County’s Department of Research and Development and the Small Business Development Center West Hawai‘i and will include one-on-one consultations on-site.

The following agencies are participants in the Rural Outreach Services initiative at UH Hilo’s outreach center in Honoka‘a:

  • Arc of Hilo
  • Arc of Kona
  • Catholic Charities
  • Center for Agricultural Success
  • County of Hawai‘i—Aging & Disability Resource Center
  • County of Hawai‘i—Coordinated Services for the Elderly
  • County of Hawai‘i—Office of Housing & Community Development
  • County of Hawai‘i—Human Resources
  • County of Hawai‘i—Research & Development
  • Department of Defense (Hawai‘i), Office of Veterans Services
  • Department of Education, Hilo & Kona Community School for Adults
  • Department of Labor & Industrial Relations—Disability Compensation Division, Hawai‘i District Office, Unemployment Insurance Division, Workforce Development Division, Wage Standards Division, Occupational Safety & Health Division, Veteran Employment & Training Service
  • Department of Human Services, Vocational Rehabilitation Division
  • Hawai‘i Center for Independent Living
  • Hawai‘i Community College, Office of Continuing Education & Training
  • Hawai‘i County Economic Opportunity Council
  • Hawai‘i Island Beacon Community
  • Hawai‘i Disability Rights Center
  • Hawai‘i First Federal Credit Union
  • Hawai‘i Home Ownership Center
  • Hawai‘i Island Adult Care, Inc.
  • Hawai‘i Island Workforce & Economic Development Ohana
  • Hawai‘i Small Business Development Center
  • Hope Services of Hawai’i
  • Five Mountains Hawai’i
  • North Hawai‘i Drug Free Coalition
  • University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, North Hawai’i Education & Research Center
  • Services for Seniors
  • UH Hilo, College of Pharmacy
  • Unites Stated Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Workforce Solutions

Remarks by the Chancellor at 2011 UH Hilo Awards and Recognition Celebration

Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a received the 2011 Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence in Innovation. (l-r) Barry Taniguchi, nominator Alohalani Housman, honoree Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a, and UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney.

Remarks by UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney
2011 UH Hilo Awards and Recognition Celebration
May 3, 2011
Campus Center Plaza

Aloha and Welcome to the UH Hilo Awards and Recognition Ceremony.

As we gather to recognize our honorees, I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize and say “thank you” to all of you. It has been almost a year since I first arrived at UH Hilo, and it’s been an extraordinary learning experience. I’ve found a good deal to admire about our faculty and staff and our entire university community. Your dedication contributes greatly to our success and it’s been an absolute pleasure working with you to move UH Hilo forward.

Today, we’ll recognize our recent retirees, our faculty and staff years of service, and we’ll also announce the winners of this year’s UH Hilo Awards. Before we start with our ceremonies, I’d like to briefly update you on a few things.

Strategic Plan

The strategic planning process is drawing to a close, and we currently have a draft plan that is widely supported on campus. I’d like to thank everyone for your participation. By the end of spring semester we should be distributing the working draft. Next year, we’ll be using it to adjust the course of our university through implementation.

New Scholarship Program

Planning is underway for a very exciting new development: the launch of an ambitious new scholarship program at UH Hilo one year from now. Details are still being worked out, so I am not at liberty to reveal the donors. Funding 4-year scholarships for ten entering students beginning with the 2012-13 academic year. Scholarships are reserved Big Island high school graduates who have limited financial resources and are first in their families to attend college. Ten scholars will start UH Hilo in 2012, with ten more added each year until program reaches 40 participants annually. Just as exciting, each cohort of students will receive specialized support services and the opportunity to participate in four summers of uniquely designed programming here on the Big Island and elsewhere. Our own faculty and staff will be involved in the delivery of these programs and services.


As you know, the current fiscal situation in the state presents a challenge to implementing the changes the campus would like to see. The budget challenge is statewide: state government needs to make up a $1.3 billion shortfall in the next biennium. UH Hilo has already taken a 24.5% reduction in general funds over the last three years. Last week we learned how we fared in the legislature for CIP. We got 50% funding for student housing ($16 million) and permission to get the other 50% from revenue bonds. The legislature is also giving us $4 million towards the renovations and addition to Hale Kanilehua to accommodate living/learning centers. Please join us for the all-campus meeting on the budget set for Thurs., May 5 at 11:30am in Wentworth 1.

Graduation Initiative

We’re confident UH Hilo will exceed this year’s graduation targets set for us by the UH System.

Display table of koa bowls and lei given to honorees at UH Hilo's 2011 Awards and Recognition Celebration held May 3 at the Campus Center Plaza.
Display table of koa bowls and lei given to honorees at UH Hilo’s 2011 Awards and Recognition Celebration held May 3 at the Campus Center Plaza.

UH Hilo’s first doctor of pharmacy degrees to be conferred at spring commencement; entrepreneur Hank C.K. Wuh to keynote

Dr. Hank C.K. Wuh, a Honolulu entrepreneur and leader in Hawaiʻi’s biotechnology field, will deliver the keynote address.

Hank C.K. Wuh
Entrepreneur Hank C.K. Wuh, MD, will keynote UH Hilo's spring commencement.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo College of Pharmacy will award its first doctor of pharmacy degrees at spring commencement on Saturday.

Dean John Pezzuto describes the class of 2011 as “dynamic and self-driven pioneers.” He said their graduation will clearly be marked as one of the most joyous days in the institution’s history.

“Every student pharmacist in our college is extraordinary, otherwise they would not be members of our program. And this first graduating class has set the bar amazingly high for future classes to match their scholarship, leadership and citizenship,” Pezzuto said. “They embraced their role as eldest among our student `ohana with zeal and passion. As their dean I am proud and humbled.”

The 84 pharmacy students are among 607 candidates for various degrees and/or certificates, which also include the colleges of Arts and Sciences (402), Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (27), Business and Economics (47), and Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language (23). Twenty-four others are candidates for various post-graduate honors.

Dr. Hank C.K. Wuh, a Honolulu entrepreneur and leader in Hawaiʻi’s biotechnology field, delivers the keynote address. An orthopedic surgeon and inventor, Wuh has led the development of over 20 biomedical and consumer healthcare products from concept to global commercialization.

Valerie Dionne, who receives bachelor of arts degrees in political science and administration of justice, serves as student speaker. A native of Arkansas, she has maintained a 3.91 GPA since leaving her job at the Hawaiʻi Government Employees Association to enroll at UH Hilo in 2008.

A member of the National Political Science Honor Society Pi Sigma Alpha, Dionne was named the UH Hilo Chapter’s Most Outstanding Student for the 2010-2011 school year. She has made the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s List each semester and is the recipient of numerous scholarships. She is active in campus and community activities and will attend the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Mānoa in fall 2011.

Commencement, to be held this Saturday, May 14, at Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium, begins at 9:00 a.m.

UH Hilo College of Hawaiian Language breaks ground

The new building to house the College of Hawaiian Language promises to be both functional and extraordinarily beautiful, with profound symbolic and spiritual elements.

UH Hilo students, faculty, staff, administrators and members of the community walk to the piko or central point of the parcel for the groundbreaking of UH Hilo’s new College of Hawaiian Language building. At left is Kalena Silva, director of the college.

A bilingual blessing and groundbreaking was held on Saturday for permanent facilities for University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

The opening ceremonies were conducted in Hawaiian. A genealogical presentation acknowledged native speakers who assisted in Hawaiian language teaching at UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College dating back to 1960. Lydia Makuakane, the eldest living of those native speakers, led a procession to the groundbreaking site, where she turned the soil at the piko or central core of the parcel. The event concluded with remarks by representatives from the UH and elected officials.

UH Hilo Chancellor Straney at podium speaking to crowd at groundbreaking ceremonies.
UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney addresses the audience at groundbreaking ceremonies. Seated at left are Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi, and to his left, UH President MRC Greenwood.

“This building promises to be both functional and extraordinarily beautiful, with profound symbolic and spiritual elements,” said UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney. “It’s a building to match the quality of the programs offered by the College of Hawaiian Language.”

Gerald De Mello, director of university relations, said the project enjoyed widespread support, but it took a coordinated team effort to secure the funding.

“This was a major accomplishment since very few initiatives were funded this past session,” De Mello said. “Our Big Island delegation led by House Higher Education Chairman Jerry Chang in concert with his Senate counterpart Jill Tokuda really came through for us. We were also fortunate to have the strong support of UH President M.R.C. Greenwood and then-Governor Linda Lingle.”

Kalena Silva, director of the college, says the new building will not only address the college’s growing pains but lay a foundation for the future.

“With this building we can expand both our graduate and undergraduate programs, which are key to taking the college to the next level,” Silva explained. “We also look forward to raising our profile on the international stage by hosting gatherings with indigenous people who look at our programs as potential models for language revitalization in their communities.”

Rendering of new building for the College of Hawaiian Language.

The building already has won critical acclaim by capturing the 2010 American Institute of Architects Honolulu Design Award in the category of “Commissioned Work to be Built.” The design by WCIT Architects of Honolulu features spectacular landscape, mountain and ocean views, and designs which reflect Native Hawaiian culture and the Big Island’s natural resources.

The college awarded UH Hilo’s first master’s and PhD degrees as it gained national prominence as a leader in indigenous language and cultural revitalization, added new programs like linguistics, and witnessed a surge in enrollment.

Link to full press release.

Link to video of the event.

Photos of the event by Walter Dudoit.