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Category: Remarks & Writings

Message from the Interim Chancellor to UH Hilo Community: It’s been a wonderful semester, filled with accomplishments

Above photo: Happy customers at the sold-out annual poinsettia plant sale, Campus Center Plaza, UH Hilo. The plants are grown by students of the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management. Nov. 28, 2018. Photo by Raiatea Arcuri.

A message from Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai to the UH Hilo community:

As we start the holiday season, I reflect on the amazing and talented people who are part of our university ‘ohana, and I’d like to share with you some of the accomplishments of the past semester.

Incoming Freshman Class, August 2018.

We started our new academic year with The Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2018 Almanac ranking the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo as the most diverse four-year public university in the United States. The cultural and ethnic diversity found in our university ‘ohana strengthens everything we do in teaching, research, and outreach, and prepares our students to be productive citizens in the real world.

Two student playing pick up ball.
Students play at the renovated court.

We also started the semester with two new outdoor gathering spaces for our students: a newly renovated basketball court behind Auxiliary Services complete with a grill and several covered picnic tables with solar powered e-recharging stations, and covered solar recharging stations outside the Student Services building. The new spaces, complete USB charging ports and Wi-Fi access, were built through a great collaborative project with students from the carpentry program at Hawai‘i Community College.

Jolene Sutton
Jolene Sutton

A team of our genetic researchers studying the ‘alalā (Hawaiian crow), led by biologist Jolene Sutton, published their work describing the high-quality reference genome that was generated to assist recovery efforts for the endangered bird. Researchers Martin Helmkampf  and Renee Bellinger, along with collaborators from the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program, San Diego Zoo Global, and Pacific Biosciences, all contributed to the project. This is an extremely important contribution to the world of conservation genetics. The genome assembly is now publicly available.

Geneviève Blanchet
Geneviève Blanchet

And our conservation biology students also made headlines. A group of our graduate students in the tropical conservation biology and environmental science program presented their work at the 25th Annual Hawai‘i Conservation Conference held in Honolulu. Two of the students came home with honorsGeneviève Blanchet was awarded Outstanding Graduate Student Oral Presentation, and Koa Matsuoka was awarded Runner-Up for Outstanding Graduate Poster Presentation.

Makalapua Alencastre, Roxanne DeLille, Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa, Noelani Iokepa-Guerrero, Kananinohea Mākaʻimoku, Ray Barnhardt, Walter Kahumoku III, Kamehaʻililani Waiau, Keane Nakapueo-Garcia, and Sylvia Hussey,
UH Hilo group at Sami University of Applied Sciences, Norway, for accreditation recognition from the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium.

The Kahuawaiola Indigenous Teacher Education Program received accreditation. The UH Hilo graduate certificate program is the first teacher education program in the world to receive accreditation from the prestigious international authority, the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium. The consortium also renewed accreditation for the UH Hilo Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa, director of the college, and all faculty and staff of the college are to be congratulated for their hard work in making UH Hilo’s language and culture revitalization program a model for the world to follow.

Students in computer lab.
Pierre Martin (right), associate professor of astronomy and observatory director, with students in the upgraded computer lab.

Students and researchers in the physics and astronomy program celebrated the installation of 12 brand new high-end desktops and monitors, along with a new data processing and storage Linux computer system, thanks to a generous donation by the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory. The TMT gift totaled over $28,000 in equipment, supporting the replacement of 10 aged computers purchased in 2010 that no longer met department needs.

UH Hilo launched its long-planned data science program this fall by offering a certificate in the fast growing field. Program Director Roberto Pelayo says the program is filling a need in the state because almost every branch of science collects massive amounts of data, but there are not a lot of trained people able to analyze that data and make conclusions—for example, here on our island, in conservation efforts, water resource management, and climate change impacts. The data science certificate is open to all students, regardless of major or background. Computer scientist Travis Mandel, mathematician Grady Weyenberg, and colleagues across many branches of science put in untold hours to create this new data science program.

Two people with drone landed on lawn.
UH Hilo drone team took a lead role in collecting data during the recent lava flow in Puna. Photo via UH System News.

Last month, a new aeronautical sciences degree program was approved by the UH Board of Regents. The provisional bachelor of science program has two concentrations: one in commercial professional pilot training, and another in commercial aerial information technology (which utilizes drones), where there is a high projected workforce need in the state. Ken Hon, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, and Bruce Mathews, dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management where the program is housed, achieved a major milestone in bringing the program to life.

These are just a few of the exciting accomplishments of the semester that provide positive learning experiences for our students, conduct important research for our environment and communities, and expand outreach to improve the quality of life for everyone. Mahalo to all of you for your contributions.

Sending aloha to you this holiday season.

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column, Dec. 2018: Preparing students for the future through applied learning

Through applied learning in research, internships, and creative endeavors, students enhance their classroom learning and get a big boost toward advanced degrees, future employment, and leadership roles in their professions and their communities.

By Marcia Sakai.

Every student at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is offered the opportunity to apply their textbook knowledge to the real world through research, internships, creative endeavors, student employment and more. Through this type of scholarly work, students enhance their classroom learning and get a big boost toward advanced degrees, future employment, and leadership roles in their professions and their communities.

I would like to share with you three of our student research programs and a few extraordinary students doing important research and inquiry of great benefit to the people of our state and the island environment. These accomplished students—and many others in these and other programs, too many to name here in this column—are already contributing in positive ways to the problems facing our island state.

Students of Hawaiʻi Advanced Research Program (SHARP)

SHARP is a relatively new program, largely supporting under-represented students, particularly Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, who would like to do research in preparation for doctoral studies. The students are mentored by expert faculty researchers to develop interest and competence in biomedical and behavioral sciences research. The program is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) and is administered through the UH Hilo Department of Anthropology.

Six SHARP students showcased their research at the 2nd Annual SHARP Symposium held on campus in August. Five of the students are undergraduates and one is in a doctoral program at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. The students worked with faculty researchers to develop their topics and learn skills to conduct their research.

Undergraduates Duke Escobar (biology major) and Kieran-Tiaye Long (psychology) are investigating the anti-bacterial efficacy of native Hawaiian plant-based medicines. Dallas Freitas (chemistry) is researching key mechanisms of ion channel signaling in cancer drug resistance and the tumor microenvironment.

Duke Escobar points to his poster project.
Duke Escobar presents his research at the 2nd Annual SHARP Symposium, Aug.31, 2018, UH Hilo. Courtesy photo from SHARP, click to enlarge.

Jasmine Hicking (biology) is researching medicinal plants, specifically anti-cancer and anti-bacterial agents from microorganisms and herbal medicine. Skyla Lee (chemistry-bioscience) is doing research on synthesis and evaluation of antibacterial and anti-cancer agents in natural products. Doctoral student Nathan Sunada (pharmaceutical sciences) is investigating neuroblastoma and the mechanisms that promote cancer progression through a native Hawaiian perspective.

Keaholoa STEM Program

The goal of Keaholoa is to increase enrollment, support, and graduation rates of Native Hawaiians and other underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the STEM disciplines. Over the years, Keaholoa has become a program where minority students can engage in scientifically rigorous research that is grounded in indigenous or native cultural practices and knowledge.

For example, anthropology student Rosa Motta has compiled water property data from nearshore marine environments using historical land use patterns and archaeological sites to determine the health of coastlines in terms of the ʻāina-kai (land-ocean) relationship. Physics major Gabriel Gutierrez mapped coral reef health using traditional Hawaiian canoes. Environmental science major Jowell Guerreiro is interested in restoring loko i‘a (fishponds) and collected data on flow rates during specific moon phases.

Marine Option Program (MOP)

MOP is a UH systemwide certificate program, offered on all UH campuses, providing educational opportunities for students from all disciplines who are interested in studying the ocean.

Earlier this year, three students from UH Hilo MOP came home with awards from the statewide MOP Student Symposium held at Windward Community College. The annual event features oral and poster presentations by undergraduate MOP students from UH campuses around the state. Our students were outstanding representatives of UH Hilo, and brought home major awards, including best research presentation, which has been won by UH Hilo MOP students in 24 of the past 29 years.

Gina Selig, Andrea Ehlers, Wheatley Crawley, Michelle Nason, Julia Stewart, and Nikola Rodriguez.
UH Hilo delegation to the Marine Option Program Student Symposium held April 21 at Windward Community College. (l-r) Gina Selig, Andrea Ehlers, Wheatley Crawley, Michelle Nason, Julia Stewart, and Nikola Rodriguez. Courtesy photo.

Julia Stewart won best research presentation for her research project on coral, an ambitious project using bioinformatics. Wheatley Crawley won best poster presentation for her project on conservation at Wai‘opae, one of the last research projects at the teeming tidepools before the recent lava flow tragically covered the area. Michelle Nason won the John P. Craven Child of the Sea award for her work establishing a coral nursery on Hawai‘i Island.

Budding scholars, future leaders

Many UH Hilo graduates have benefited greatly from our various applied learning programs. When they move on to graduate school, doctoral programs, or professional positions, they are already well-skilled in doing sustainability, conservation, health, community-based research projects and more that make an impact.

As we prepare for the close of the semester and Fall Commencement, I’d like to congratulate the graduating class, wish each student great success, and thank everyone for your contributions to UH Hilo, our students, and our community.

Sending aloha to you and your families this holiday season!

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

UH Hilo Enrollment Management Report presented to the UH Board of Regents

University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai presented the UH Hilo Enrollment Management Report to the UH Board of Regents on Nov. 1, 2018, at the UH Mānoa campus. Here is the text of her PowerPoint presentation to the BOR.

2018-2019 Action Strategies for Enrollment Growth

  • Strategic use of financial aid
  • Digital communication (email, web, texting, social media)
  • UH community college Transfer Events
  • UH common general education core
  • Living Learning Communities
  • ‘Opihi Student Success retention activity branding
  • Mentor Collective peer mentoring program
  • My Success early alert system

Campus Enrollment Targets, 2018-2019 to 2020-2021

Measure Historical Enrollment Count Targeted Enrollment Count
Fall 2015 Fall 2016 Fall 2017 Fall 2018

(Planned)

Fall 2018

(Actual)

Total Enrollment 3,829 3,666 3,539 3,613 3,406
Percentage Change Total -2.4% -4.3% -3.5% 2.1% -3.8%
1 First-time Freshmen Total 385 368 413 436 413
Percentage Change FTF -10.9% -4.4% 12.2% 5.6% 0.0%
1a     Hawai‘i Island High Schools 164 160 166 172 182
1b     O‘ahu High Schools 58 57 72 74 71
1c     Maui and Kaua’i High Schools 32 33 30 34 20
1d     Mainland (1*) 97 77 114 124 103
2 Transfer Total 408 397 371 371 337
Percentage Change Transfer -6.7% -4.9% -7.0% 0.0% -9.2%
2a     Hawai‘i Community College 126 147 115 114 105
2b     Other UHCC 57 45 51 50 48
3 Continuing (Retention Rate Increase) (2*) 2,135 1,979 1,873 1,880 1,853
3a     First-time Freshmen Retained (3*) 272 271 248 289 270
Retention Rates 63.2% 70.2% 68.3% 70.0% 66.0%
3b     Transfer Retained3 285 277 276 246 247

*1 Includes U.S. Military.
*2 Increase of #.# percentage points to the retention rate in the second fall semester of enrollment, decaying by 0.1 percentage point through fall 12.
*3 Corrected.

2018 Assessment

  • Increased applications and acceptances
  • First-time freshmen enrollment sustains increase in prior year
  • Fewer transfer students enrolled than targeted
  • Increased Hawai’i island and resident enrollment; decreased non-resident enrollment
  • Lower retention rates for first time freshmen and first time transfer students
  • Improved persistence for continuing students
  • Continued high FAFSA completions

2018 Assessment

Financial Aid TV’s Get Answers 

  • Total of 961 videos watched March to September 2018, video viewership highest on Saturday and most videos viewed between 6:00pm to 11:00pm

EAB/Royall Decision IQ campaign 

  • Up to 7 messages delivered to 800+ accepted freshmen on decision to enroll

Geo-fenced mobile advertising 

  • 700,000+ impressions, 8 UHCC campuses, nearly 4000 “click-thrus” to university website and ‘apply’ page

Texting campaign 

  • Up to 12 messages, thousands of individual messages, delivered to 1200+ accepted freshmen and transfer students

‘Opihi Student Success – Tailored communication for continuing and stopped out students

  • 2529 registered seniors, juniors, and sophomores contacted Spr 2018, average 86.6% across all 4 colleges registered for Fall 2018
  • 421 students stopped out AY 16-17 contacted, 37 (8.8%) registered to re-enroll for Fall 2018;
  • 13 students graduate through petition to modify graduation requirements

Mentor Collective peer mentor program 

  • 89.3% of 93 new students matched with mentor, total 427 hours engagement Spr 2018

MySuccess early alert system 

  • 6 Math & English courses, 1 Chemistry section, coordinated outreach with 5 student support program; 594 issues identified, 79% resolved timely, 59 flags raised, 86% cleared

Campus Enrollment Targets 2019-20 to 2021-22

Measure Historical Enrollment Count Targeted Enrollment Count
Fall 2016 Fall 2017 Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Fall 2020 Fall 2021
Total Enrollment 3,666 3,539 3,406 3,520 3,634 3,781
Percentage Change Total -4.3% -3.5% -3.8% 3.3% 3.0% 4.3%
1 First-time Freshmen Total (1*) 368 413 413 460 505 550
Percentage Change FTF -4.4% 12.2% 0.0% 11.4% 9.8% 8.9%
1a     Hawai‘i Island Direct Entrants (2*) 160 166 182 200 215 230
1b     O‘ahu Direct Entrants 57 72 71 80 90 95
1c     Maui County and Kaua‘i Direct Entrants 33 30 20 30 35 40
1d     Mainland 77 114 103 150 165 185
2 Transfer Total (1*) 397 371 337 375 390 405
Percentage Change Transfer -2.7% -6.5% -9.2% 11.3% 4.0% 3.8%
2a     Hawai‘i Community College 144 114 105 125 130 135
2b     Other UH Community College 45 50 40 55 55 60
3 Continuing / Returning (3*) 2,058 1,927 1,853 1,872 1,927 2,079
3a     First-time Freshmen Retained (4*) 271 248 270 281 317 354
Retention Rate – First-Time, Full-Time 70.9% 68.2% 66.0% 68.0% 69.0% 70.0%
3b     Transfer Retained (4*) 277 276 247 246 277 292
3c Retention Rate – Full-Time 72.1% 75.4% 70.4% 72.9% 73.9% 74.9%

*1 Data from UH IRAO Tracking system – numbers will not tie to other sources.
*2 Direct entrants are students who enrolled in college directly from high school without delay after high school graduation.
*3 Data from IRO Base, Census; includes classified undergraduate students only.
*4 First-time freshmen and transfers retained from prior fall semester tracking cohorts.

2019-2020 Action Strategies for Enrollment Growth

  • EAB/Royall Strategic Search for prospective high school students
  • Strategic use of financial aid
  • Digital communication for prospective and continuing students
  • 2+2 pathways for UH community college transfer students
  • Entry and first year services for transfer students
  • Completion of English and math in 1st year
  • Career pathway major choice, career exploration, employment advising
  • Service learning/community engagement connections
  • Distance learning capacity for select majors

 

More information and documents are on the UH Hilo Enrollment Management website.

Statement from the Interim Chancellor on UH Hilo’s commitment to embracing diversity

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.

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

Allison Dupre and her artwork, The
Allison Dupre holds her winning mixed media piece, The Diversity Tree. Learn more about the artwork and Ms. Dupre’s $500 prize. Photo by Raiatea Arcuri, click to enlarge.

Just last week, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo celebrated Global Diversity Awareness Month by recognizing student art, performances, and writings on what it means for our campus to be ranked as the most diverse four-year public university in the country. A winning entry was artwork done by business major Allison Dupre. She created a mixed media piece of a tree in a rainbow of colors with a quotation by American entrepreneur Malcolm Forbes: “Diversity, the art of thinking independently together.”

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:

Mahalo for caring for each other.

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor