National events of the last two weeks have furthered the resolve of the UH Hilo community to be unflinching in its commitment to embrace diversity and inclusion on our campus while fostering and practicing the spirit of aloha in all that we do.
At UH Hilo we take pride in our diverse campus community, and embrace all who come here to work, study, and grow. Universities are places where ideas and cultures intersect, and we strive to ensure this is a place where the exchange of diverse ideas can occur in a safe and productive environment.
National events of the last two weeks have furthered the resolve of the UH Hilo community to be unflinching in its commitment to embrace diversity and inclusion on our campus while fostering and practicing the spirit of aloha in all that we do. I ask that each of you make a personal commitment to do your part to ensure our campus is a place where our differences can make us better, within a framework of respect and aloha.
As the most diverse four-year university in the country, we serve as an academic model to the world where people from across the globe live in harmony, thinking independently together.
UH Hilo is here to support you with a variety of services for our students, faculty and staff. Should you need assistance, please reach out or make referrals to the available campus services below:
With today’s technology, the guidance of expert mentors, and a deep desire to make new discoveries, UH Hilo students are learning from many sources and contributing to their selected fields, their communities, and the world.
The Mission Statement of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo begins with the adage, ‘A‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka hālau ho‘okahi (One learns from many sources). One unique aspect of UH Hilo is that we offer both undergraduate and graduate students many opportunities to do research in a variety of fields. Our students are doing important work, collecting and analyzing new data, publishing findings alongside their mentors, graduating with a packed résumé and a degree, fully prepared to join the workforce or continue to a terminal degree.
I would like to share with you some research projects where our students are learning by doing the work, making the discoveries, and enriching the world with new knowledge.
UH Hilo professors, scientists and students provided valuable expertise and resources on multiple fronts during the recent lava flow in Puna, helping government officials assess hazards to the public.
UH Hilo volcanologist Cheryl Gansecki, assisted by undergraduate students, provided real-time chemistry analysis of lava samples. The information helped government scientists determine how the lava would behave and how fast it moved, critical information for response plans.
While completing a summer internship at the University of Michigan, UH Hilo astronomy student Kyle Steckler developed an algorithm to discover minor planets that orbit the sun beyond Neptune. The algorithm did not fully work all summer and he was not discovering anything new. But about three hours before he gave his final presentation at the symposium in Ann Arbor, he was running his software and it suddenly popped up something new—Kyle had discovered a new object in our solar system!
Kyle’s internship was funded through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, a highly competitive program funded by the National Science Foundation that supports active research done by undergraduates. He will graduate with this amazing accomplishment already on his résumé, a solid foundation for making future discoveries.
Another astronomy student, Chantelle Kiessner, is doing solar investigations, having been awarded three internships over the course of the past two years. She started in 2016 as a Hawai‘i Space Grant Consortium trainee and then, building on the skills learned as a trainee, she was selected for the Akamai Internship Program in the summer of 2017. As an Akamai Scholar she was placed at the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on Maui to work on quantifying data on the new Adaptive Optics system where she looked for ways to correct the errors introduced by Earth’s atmosphere.
Chantelle then conducted research over the past summer as an intern in the REU program. She studied at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, a research facility at the University of Colorado, Boulder. While there, she worked at the National Solar Observatory analyzing spectral data from the solar chromosphere, the reddish outer layer of the sun.
These two students are already earning their research chops as undergraduates and I can only imagine the great work they will do in their future careers.
Sabena Siddiqui, a graduate student in tropical conservation biology and environmental science, is researching the sounds of humpback whales when they are not singing, an aspect of their communication that is clearly important but little studied. Sabena’s investigations focus on spectral analysis of the social sounds of the humpback whale population that breeds in Hawaiʻi.
Sabena secured funding to attend UH Hilo through the NSF Centers for Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) with partial funding through the Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems bioacoustics lab at UH Hilo.
In addition to her graduate studies, for the past seven years Sabena has served as the student chair of the American Cetacean Society, the world’s oldest whale conservation organization. Her role is to be a mentor and guide to student leaders of other groups on campus.
‘A‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka hālau ho‘okahi
Armed with today’s technology, the guidance of expert mentors, and a deep desire to make new discoveries, these students are learning from many sources and already contributing to their selected fields, their communities, and the world. In a future column I will share with you the work of several programs that support our students in exploring and investigating our island and beyond.
Our campus’s cultural diversity provides an environment in which appreciation for diversity of perspectives can create a healthy community where everyone feels respected and valued.
October is Global Diversity Awareness Month and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has much to celebrate. Our campus prides itself on being an inclusive community, nurturing and supporting a global mix of ethnicities and cultures. In August, The Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2018 Almanac ranked UH Hilo as the most diverse four-year public university in the nation! Three other UH campuses also ranked in the top 10.
Our campus’s cultural diversity provides an environment in which appreciation for diversity of perspectives can create a healthy community where everyone feels respected and valued. This is enriching for everyone on campus. But it’s even more than that.
Having local, mainland, Pacific region and other international students all living and learning together gives everyone real experience in the development of global understanding. Students leave our campus and community with a strong sense of the value of diversity in education, commerce, health and welfare—our graduates are already global citizens before graduation, with an understanding that valuing diversity raises the quality of life for everyone.
Let me share something about our people and programs working in support of diversity at UH Hilo.
First, we embrace our responsibility to serve the indigenous people of Hawai‘i and to support Hawai‘i’s indigenous language and culture. Hawai‘i’s people, history, cultures, and natural environment permeate all that we do in teaching, conducting research, and doing outreach to the community.
In addition to our Hawaiian language and cultural revitalization programs, cultural practitioners are part of many programs in the natural sciences, pharmaceutical and health sciences, humanities, and sustainability. Cultural practitioners at our Uluākea program teach faculty in various academic disciplines an authentic and practical understanding of indigenous ways of knowing the world.
It is from this strong place-based foundation that our campus embraces the world, its peoples and its cultures.
In academics, Professor of Sociology Marina Karides is developing a new track of study focusing on island and indigenous sociology. The curriculum includes courses on indigenous health and well-being, island feminism, and the political economy of Hawai‘i. Students’ theses will be based in indigenous research protocols, and internships will be required with organizations that serve Native Hawaiian and/or indigenous communities.
Through the Study Abroad program, headed by Director of Global Exchange Carolina Lam, our local students have many opportunities to study in another country, giving them real world experience of other cultures and people. Students who study abroad gain valuable skills and expertise for an increasingly internationalized and interdependent world.
On campus, UH Hilo hosts incoming exchange students from different nations and cultures each semester in a program headed by Director of Global Exchange Tom Shumway. Almost 100 new international exchange and other international students have joined us this fall—of those about 30 are exchange students with us for one or two semesters and the others degree seeking. About 250 total international students are on campus. Along with international films and speakers, these students present opportunities for an enriched understanding of diverse viewpoints and experiences that benefit our classrooms, our campus, and the greater Hilo community.
At our Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, Director Jennifer Stotter is looking at diversity on campus from the perspective of equity. In addition to ensuring that UH Hilo is following all laws and policies pertaining to equal opportunity, the EEO/AA office also develops training programs and workshops on sexual harassment and discrimination to ensure all on our campus are supported and treated fairly.
We look forward to doing more, because this is the type of support that expands our students’ views about people, their diverse communities and the world as they become global citizens and move on to become the leaders of the future.
UH Hilo will be celebrating Global Diversity Awareness Month on campus with a Diversity Fair on Oct. 24. There will be student presentations, artwork, music, food, and performance art, all celebrating diversity. The different programs mentioned in this column will also have displays and information booths. An awards ceremony will cap the event recognizing the best student presentations. All are welcome, the event is free and open to the public. I hope you’ll join us.
Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai hosted a Coffee Hour with the local press today on the campus of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Interim Chancellor Sakai shared the following information in her PowerPoint.
UH Hilo Most Diverse Four-Year University in the Nation
In response to student requests for more recreational areas and covered outdoor gathering places on campus, several projects were completed over the summer.
The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo community starts the fall semester with exciting new amenities for students to enjoy and several capital improvements in the works.
Places for students to gather
In response to student requests for more recreational areas and covered outdoor gathering places on campus, several projects were completed over the summer.
An old outdoor basketball court was refurbished and renamed Pu‘uli‘i (“the hill”) complete with an area to grill food and hang out at covered picnic tables with solar powered recharging stations, USB ports, and Wi-Fi access. Several other recharging stations were built near main hubs around campus: the Student Services building, the College of Business and Economics, and at bus shelters near the UH Hilo Bookstore and the main entrance to UH Hilo campus.
The projects were supported by the Office of the Chancellor and the Office of Administrative Affairs.
The tradition of doing summer projects was started by Kolin Kettleson, retired UH Hilo director of auxiliary services, and Gene Harada, a professor at the Hawai‘i Community College carpentry program. Construction is done by carpentry students, and over the years, the collaborative effort has provided a wealth of cost effective campus improvements at UH Hilo while also giving the carpentry students valuable hands-on summer work experience.
There are also several capital improvement projects underway:
Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy
Everything is on track with the new Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy building. Construction began in Sept. 2016 and is about 75 percent complete with a target completion date of May 2019. The project was extended with the allocation of additional funds in FY 2018 to use for audio/visual updates to the building. The updates required some additional design work so that installation can be fully integrated with the original design. Metal roofing installation is ongoing. We are truly looking forward to completion of this project!
Air conditioning and other improvements
Our Life Science Building complex is being substantially renovated with roofing, ventilation and air conditioning, electrical, and lab renovations. ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s AC system is also currently under renovation to replace non-working components—this includes the planetarium, exhibit hall, main office, and restaurant. Likewise, College Hall is getting new air conditioning units, a project that will start later this fall.
A larger AC project is the Chilled Water Plant renovation that includes the replacement of the chiller and pump system for a main AC unit serving Mookini Library, Edith Kanaka‘ole Hall, the College of Business and Economics building, and Hawai‘i Community College Business Education and Technology and Computing Center. This project also involves repairs to the chilled water loop that runs throughout campus. The projected completion is later this month.
An AC project at Hale Alahonua residence hall is the first of its kind for our campus—the project will include solar power in the design, with a battery storage system, so essentially it will be a self-contained net-zero system. The project was appropriated $6 million by the State Legislature.
Two other sustainable projects—the Energy Storage Project and the Green Waste to Energy Project—involve the construction of an Energy Storage Device to manage peak electrical demand. Work is taking place near the Sciences and Technology Building. The project began in August 2017 and is ongoing, expected to be completed in the next couple of months.
UH Hilo is already a leader in the UH System on sub-metering and baseline data recording, bi-level lighting, energy requirements in design contracts, a reinvestment account, and Hawai‘i Energy Rebates, so the solar AC, Energy Storage, and Green Waste to Energy projects keep us on the leading edge of creating a truly sustainable campus.
Repairs and renovations are underway at the portable buildings that house music classes and the testing center, with completion expected this month. Auxiliary Services has already moved the music rehearsal room back into the building, and will work with the music faculty on the remaining moves.
On Maunakea, the Office of Maunakea Management is overseeing renovation and infrastructure improvements. The ongoing project provides design and construction for infrastructure improvements and renovation within UH’s managed lands on Maunakea, including mid-level facilities at Hale Pohaku, the summit access road, and the Mauna Kea Science Reserve. A current project is site improvements to the Mauna Kea Visitor Center’s parking area.