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Category: Remarks & Writings

Message from Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai: Mahalo for pulling together, caring for our students

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

aerial view of campusI want to thank everyone for pulling together to support our students and one another over the last two weeks.

The Kilauea eruption has made what is already a busy time of year very challenging, and we are mindful of those in our UH Hilo ‘ohana and larger Hawai‘i Island community who are directly
affected.

Through this difficult time, all of you stepped up and proved once again that the foundation of this campus is truly driven by the spirit of caring for one another.

Now that we’ve made it through finals, we can look forward to tomorrow’s Commencement exercises to celebrate our graduates’ achievements.

Again, mahalo for all that you do, and I wish everyone the best for a safe and restful summer. I look forward to seeing you in the fall.

Marcia Sakai

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: Spring 2018: An exciting semester of positive learning experiences for our students and community

Here are a few of the exciting things happening at UH Hilo as we work together to provide positive learning experiences and support to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead.

As UH Hilo heads toward the end of the spring 2018 semester and commencement, I’d like to share a few highlights with you.

Student accomplishments

Earlier in the semester, three UH Hilo students each received a 2018 UH President’s Green Initiative Award recognizing their initiative, innovation, creativity and civic engagement in campus and community sustainability with cash prizes. Kasey Buchanan received the Johnson Controls Green Leader Award for a campus waste reduction project. Kara Spaulding received the HEI Charitable Foundation Green Leader Award for developing sustainability curriculum in the arts and perpetuating natural and cultural resources. Zoe Whitney received an honorable mention for producing a UH Hilo Carbon and Nitrogen Report Card.

Group of students stand with representative.
State Rep. Mark Nakashima (center) stands with UH Hilo HOSA delegates (l-r) Jeremy Villanueva, Lark Jason Canico, Kelly Gani, Leslie Arce, Travis Taylor, Sheldon Cabudol and Deserie Pagatpatan. Missing: Daniel Kimura, Kateleen Caye Bio and Kendrick Justin Dalmacio. Courtesy photo.

UH Hilo students excelled at the 13th Annual Health Occupation Students of America–Future Health Professionals State Leadership Conference held on O‘ahu in February. All 10 UH Hilo delegates competing at the conference placed in their events, with one team taking first place in their category. In the process, students honed public speaking and interpersonal communication skills, gained knowledge, and networked.

Three students from the Marine Options Program at UH Hilo came home in April with four awards from the statewide MOP Student Symposium held on O‘ahu. The annual event features oral and poster presentations by undergraduate students from around the state. This year’s UH Hilo winners: Wheatley Crawley for best poster presentation (conservation at Wai‘opae), Michelle Nason received the John P. Craven Child of the Sea award (project on a coral nursery), and Julia Stewart won best research project (coral research using bioinformatics) and the Ana Toy Ng MOP Memorial award (for contributions to MOP).

These accomplished students—and many others too many to name here in this column—are already contributing in positive ways to local and global communities. Their research, leadership, sustainability, conservation and community-based projects are making an impact. I look forward to seeing more of their academic accomplishments and their work in the world after graduation.

Community

Group with sign Blue Zones Project Approved, sponsor logos.
Group gathers at event celebrating Blue Zones Project Approved status.

In April, UH Hilo received official designation as a Blue Zones approved workplace. The Blue Zones project is a worldwide initiative to promote healthy living and long lives. UH Hilo now joins a number of businesses and organizations working together to transform Hilo into a Blue Zones community by adopting healthy practices. As an institution of higher learning, we are already well-versed in developing healthy minds. We can now look forward to taking that next step to promoting overall physical well-being. Activities on campus include walking groups, healthy cooking demonstrations, and many other wellness pursuits.

The iconic Hawaiian double-hulled sailing canoe, Hōkūle‘a, visited Hilo in April as part of its statewide “Mahalo Hawaiʻi Sail” as the crew expresses mahalo to numerous communities for their support of the three-year Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage from 2014 to 2017. UH Hilo co-hosted an educational expo in April at Wailoa Pier where hundreds of schoolchildren and others from the East Hawai‘i community enjoyed tours of the Hōkūle‘a and hands-on educational activities to showcase ocean navigation’s connection to science, math, culture and conservation (photos). We’re proud of our very own Pwo Navigator and Captain Kālepa Baybayan and the many other people from the UH Hilo ‘ohana who participated in the worldwide voyage and the recent expo.

Public tours of Hōkūle‘a. UH Hilo co-sponsored Educational Expo, Wailoa Pier, Hilo.

A panel discussion on incorporating Hawaiian cultural knowledge with modern western science to meet the sustainability challenges facing Hawai‘i today was held at UH Hilo in February. The discussion was part of the 6th Annual Hawai‘i Sustainability in Higher Education Summit held over the course of three days on Hawai‘i Island. Delegations from all 10 UH campuses gathered to learn from local practitioners, national experts, and each other, and to set the action agenda for upcoming campus initiatives.

Looking forward

On July 1st, the new College of Natural and Health Sciences will be established. It will house the current Division of Natural Sciences, School of Nursing, and Department of Kinesiology and Exercise Sciences. Jim Beets, professor of marine science and current chair of the Division of Natural Sciences, has agreed to serve as the interim dean of the new college. A national search for a permanent dean will soon be launched.

And we have a recent update from UH President David Lassner about the search for the next permanent UH Hilo chancellor, now expected to be completed by the end of 2018 with our new leader in place in spring 2019.

These are just a few of the exciting things happening at UH Hilo as we work together to provide positive learning experiences and support to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead. I wish you all a safe and wonderful summer.

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: Come celebrate Hōkūleʻa visiting Hilo this month

UH Hilo will be hosting a day-long event for Hōkūleʻa, the crew, and the local community on Saturday, April 21.

By Marcia Sakai.

The Hōkūleʻa is visiting Hawai‘i Island for a two-month stay that started in March. This is the voyaging canoe’s first visit to our island since embarking from Hilo in May 2014 for the three-year Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Hōkūleʻa and crew will be stopping at several ports on the island starting with Miloliʻi, then Kailua-Kona, Hilo, and Kawaihae before heading back to O‘ahu in May. The Hawaiʻi Island visit is an official stop on the “Hōkūleʻa Mahalo, Hawaiʻi Sail” trip throughout the islands as a way for the crew to say thank you for all the support shown by the people of Hawai‘i during the worldwide voyage.

The importance of Hōkūleʻa and the worldwide voyage is significant. The Hawaiian name for the voyage, Mālama Honua, means “to care for our Earth.” The purpose of the trip was to share with the world the understanding that our island chain teaches us that our natural world is in need of our stewardship if we are to survive together.

The University of Hawai‘i was the higher education partner in the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, with over 50 people from all 10 campuses directly involved, providing the manpower and resources to execute the voyage. Countless UH students, faculty, staff and alumni served during the three-year voyage in myriad ways, as volunteers, navigators, captains and scientific researchers.

We’re proud to be part of the worldwide voyage through the many people from the UH Hilo ‘ohana who participated. Master navigator Kālepa Baybayan, a UH Hilo alumnus and navigator in residence at ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, has been part of the Polynesian voyaging renaissance since 1975 at the age of 19, and served on the worldwide voyage as both crew and captain on various legs of the journey such as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, U.S. East Coast. Notably, he captained the Hōkūleʻa’s historic sail to Washington D.C.

Others from our ‘ohana, too, far too many to name here—Heinani Enos, a lecturer with Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, and Kaleo Pilago who at the time of his participation was a student development specialist at the Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center. All sailed on the voyage and then spent time with stakeholders from across the UH System to discuss next steps forward.

Celebrating Hōkūleʻa

UH Hilo shares in the vision of Mālama Honua—as an indigenous serving institution, we take our kuleana, our responsibility, to protect cultural and environmental resources for our children’s future, very seriously.

The voyage sought to engage all the world’s people to bridge traditional and new technologies to live sustainably. This is also a high priority of the UH System and UH Hilo in particular, and we share with Hōkūleʻa, the crew, and the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the connection and understanding of the important work being done here in the islands to care for Earth and our unique culture.

At each stop on our island this month, the crew of the Hōkūleʻa, including many from UH Hilo, will be giving presentations and talk story sessions, canoe tours, volunteer stewardship opportunities and other family-friendly events, all free to the public. The Polynesian Voyaging Society will also be hosting thousands of public and private school students with canoe visits and educational activities that highlight wayfinding and voyaging through the perspectives of math, science, conservation and culture.

In celebration of this shared vision for a sustainable future, UH Hilo will be hosting a day-long event for Hōkūleʻa, the crew, and the local community on Saturday, April 21. We anticipate a large turnout and hope to share with our local communities the importance of the Mālama Honua Voyage as well as the many related educational programs at UH Hilo. There will be exhibitions and informational displays and lots of hands-on activities and fun takeaways for the keiki.

There are a number of other events planned around the Hōkūleʻa visit to our island. One of these is a field trip of 200 students from Kaumana Elementary School who will visit the UH Hilo Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center in Keaukaha as part of a day-long educational event. The center will be giving the students and their teachers tours of the aquaculture research and educational facility, inspiring keiki to pursue science and dedicate their lives to the preservation of the ocean and our island home.

I hope you’ll join us on April 21 to welcome and celebrate the Hōkūleʻa and crew, as we honor them as cultural treasures and worldwide ambassadors of our island home.

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: UH Hilo, preparing people for careers that make a big impact

UH Hilo is dedicated to giving Hawai‘i high school, transfer, and non-traditional students the options they need to earn baccalaureate and advanced degrees here on Hawai‘i Island.

By Marcia Sakai

UH Hilo seal, red lettering University of Hawaii and the state motto.The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has a long history of engaging with the local community—in fact, it is because of the extraordinary support of our local community that UH Hilo has grown into a responsive source of higher education, at-the-ready to adapt and expand to meet the needs of our island and state.

There is an interesting indicator that tells us where the people of our communities are placing importance when it comes to building our future—just take a look at our programs that are expanding: Teaching, Education, Nursing, Kinesiology and Exercise Science. Much needed and in-demand programs in planning are Data Science, Cybersecurity, and Aviation and Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

While we expand to meet the new needs of our future, we continue to educate more and more highly trained scientists who will help to preserve and protect our precious natural resources: environmental scientists, conservation biologists and ecologists, natural resource scientists, geologists, geographers, physicists, marine scientists.

And there are cohorts of graduating students who want to dedicate their lives to improving the health and wellbeing of people, families, and communities—the social and medical scientists: psychologists, biomedical professionals and researchers, medical anthropologists, pharmacists, health care providers.

In addition, several academic programs at UH Hilo are not offered anywhere else in the state, such as our doctoral and master programs in pharmacy and in Hawaiian language—students who graduate and become professionals in these fields have a great and positive impact on our local communities, and in the social and economic fabric of our island home.

Add to that, our business, management, and marketing programs that are teaching people how to build companies that not only raise the quality of life for their own families but also for their employees and patrons. I have seen in our College of Business and Economics—the college I helped found and where I taught for years—the entrepreneurial spirit grow in students who have then gone on to build the prosperous businesses of their dreams based on the education they received at UH Hilo.

And not surprisingly, a number of our students are looking to become professionals in the field of communication: writers, journalists, professionals in digital and mass media, public relations, ethnography—all trained to share information in the age of information—with a background in critical thinking skills taught as a foundational premise during their undergraduate studies.

In other words, UH Hilo is giving students—whether traditional student, transfer student, returning student, or someone wanting to change professions—the degree pathways that lead to professional careers that have great social and economic impact on our communities.

To support these future leaders while they are in school—to get them over the finish line—we are strengthening and expanding support services from recruitment to retention to graduation.

We are increasing enrollment of first-time students, especially on Hawai‘i Island, and increasing enrollment of transfer students, especially from UH community colleges.

We are refining our financial aid strategy, and have started a new micro-scholarship program where high school students, starting from their freshman year, can earn funds toward a scholarship redeemable only through enrolling at UH Hilo after graduation.

In new programs to assist with the retention of students in their first year at UH Hilo, transfer students are provided with access to better coordinated transfer services and first-year students are eligible to receive the support of a peer mentor.

Living Learning Communities continue to be a big success story at our residence halls where currently over 100 freshmen with a chosen a field of interest are enrolled in courses together and go off-campus together to experience cultural practices, community engagement, and service learning. These bonded groups of students are much more able to stick together as a cohort and reach graduation together as lifelong friends and peers.

UH Hilo is a university made possible by the dedication and support of the surrounding community. We are, in turn, dedicated to giving Hawai‘i high school, transfer, and non-traditional students the options they need to earn baccalaureate and advanced degrees here on Hawai‘i Island.

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

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