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Category: Remarks & Writings

UH Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai meets with local press

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.

The Flow

Large group of students and staff in orange safety vests, some hollding drones and other equipment.
UH HILO DRONE TEAM. UH Hilo had a vital role in response to the recent historic lava eruption on Hawaiʻi Island. In the photo above, students and staff, four holding drones used in aerial surveys, in the field at recent lava flow in Puna. The team piloted drones day and night to capture thermo data and imagery of lava flows, information critical to government agencies overseeing eruption response. They also analyzed threat to Puna Geothermal. Other teams of scientists analyzed chemistry of lava samples at labs on campus. Courtesy photo, click to enlarge.

UH Hilo Most Diverse Four-Year University in the Nation

Large group of students looking up to camera.
Freshman class during Orientation in August 2018. Courtesy photo, click to enlarge.

UH Hilo was recently ranked the Most Diverse 4-Year University in the Nation by the Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac 2018.

The Chronicle’s ranking of the top 10 most diverse public four-year universities and their corresponding diversity indexes:

  1. UH Hilo, 88.9
  2. Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology at Okmulgee, 87.1
  3. UH Maui College, 86.5
  4. UH West Oʻahu, 84.5
  5. Highline College, 81.9
  6. UH Mānoa, 81.6
  7. California State University, East Bay, 79.3
  8. Rutgers University-Newark, 78.9
  9. New Jersey Institute of Technology, 78.5
  10. Seattle Central College, 78.0

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: Giving students an environment where they can thrive

In response to student requests for more recreational areas and covered outdoor gathering places on campus, several projects were completed over the summer.

Two students playing ball on the new court.
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.

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.

Sustainability

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.

Performing arts

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.

Maunakea

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.

I mua!

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor, UH Hilo

Interim Chancellor’s Welcome to Students, Fall 2018

We have an exciting semester ahead with many opportunities for you to engage with each other and the entire university community.

Aloha,

UH Hilo seal, red lettering University of Hawaii and the state motto.I send a special welcome to new students joining our University of Hawai‘i at Hilo ‘ohana (family) and to our returning students.

We have an exciting semester ahead with many opportunities for you to engage with each other and the entire university community. In addition to your classroom studies, there are internships, collaborative research with professors, community service, and extracurricular participation. I encourage you to investigate and pursue as much as you can to expand your knowledge of our campus community, our island, and the world.

In response to student requests for more recreational areas and covered outdoor gathering places on campus, several new projects were completed over the summer.

  • There is now a refurbished outdoor basketball court called Pu‘u Li‘i located behind the auxiliary building with a gazebo, grill, and picnic tables with solar powered recharging stations, USB ports, and Wi-Fi access. A great place to hang out with friends!
  • Several other covered recharging stations were also built around campus near the main hubs of the Student Services building, the College of Business and Economics, and at the bus shelters near the bookstore and the main entrance to campus (see Campus Maps).

While the new semester holds much excitement, we are aware of the stress many have felt from the volcanic eruption event that began in early May. Please reach out for support if you have been directly affected. Visit our informational website Puna Lava Flow for FAQs, information on housing, safety, wellness resources, contact information, and more.

If you have general questions, here is contact information for the following topics:

Study hard, do good work, and take good care of each other. I know you will achieve every success in your educational endeavors.

Have a great semester!

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor, UH Hilo

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center—Why it was created and what it represents

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center has a valuable role in our community by augmenting what school children and students learn in the classroom.

The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i opened on the campus of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo in 2006. ‘Imiloa, which means “to seek far” and is the Hawaiian word for both explore and explorer, is an educational outreach center primarily focusing on school children, students of all ages, families, and visitors to our island who are interested in learning more about the connections between Hawaiian cultural traditions and the science of astronomy.

But ‘Imiloa’s mission is not limited to astronomy. Much of what the center offers involves the exploration of earth and life sciences, fulfilling a valuable role in our community by augmenting what school children and students learn in the classroom by sharing the technology and resources at the exhibit hall and planetarium.

Earth science education

Field trips for school children from our island and around the state are on-going at ‘Imiloa throughout the year. This summer, groups of students saw presentations on the active volcano, the universe, and topics specific to their curriculum.

A group of 37 youth from the county-sponsored Pāhoa Summer Fun program toured the center and learned about Hawai‘i volcanoes in the interactive CyberCANOE theatre. CyberCANOE stands for “Cyber Enabled Collaboration Analysis Navigation and Observation Environment” and is a 3-D visual explosion of information.

The multi-screen CyberCANOE system was installed at ‘Imiloa in 2016, becoming the first tech system of its kind on Hawai‘i Island (the UH Hilo campus now has several CyberCANOE systems installed). This is the data sharing technology of the future and a marvelous way to inspire keiki to learn about Earth and the skies above us.

This special day was made possible by a new ‘Imiloa Lava Relief Fund supported by generous personal donations by staff of the Subaru Telescope in Hilo and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan in Tokyo. Mahalo!

Also related to the current lava flow, ‘Imiloa partnered with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on Sundays in July to have park rangers at the center to talk story with the public and provide updates on the eruption.

Teacher education

Earlier this summer, in a wonderfully collaborative project with a UH Hilo School of Education teacher cohort, ‘Imiloa hosted the Culture and Science Integration Partnership Project, increasing community outreach by providing professional education to K-5 teachers. ‘Imiloa shared professional development resources with the teachers to support their integration of culture and science, a highly successful model of teaching to inspire our island keiki to study and learn.

This type of teacher education deepens ‘Imiloa’s impact in our local communities through the creation of mission relevant learning modules that can be used in formal classroom settings as well as in ʻImiloa informal education programs—all for the benefit of our island keiki.

Internships

In a new partnership with the UH Hilo Upward Bound program, ʻImiloa hosted a cohort of 20 students in an internship project called STEMulate where students work directly with local organizations for five weeks to help find solutions to real-world problems.

This summer, ʻImiloaʻs STEMulate cohort focused on the challenges in managing Maunakea: environmental, cultural, economic, and health and safety. The students studied with experts, conducted research, created exhibits, and gave final presentations. The recommendations made by the students about effective exhibit designs will help ‘Imiloa staff in current and future exhibit development.

This is a good example of ‘Imiloa providing a special place for the future leaders of our communities to practice their STEM skills and present scientifically-based recommendations on incorporating Hawaiian culture into education, an important component of ‘Imiloa and UH Hilo’s missions.

Maunakea Speaker Series

The Maunakea Speaker Series gives the community unprecedented access to the fascinating research taking place on Maunakea and other topics unique to Hawai‘i. The monthly presentation by local experts and others is a partnership between the Office of Maunakea Management, ‘Imiloa, and the UH Hilo Department of Physics and Astronomy. The series promotes understanding and collaboration across all sectors of the community—the kind of outreach that is central to the mission of UH Hilo.

July’s presentation included two Maunakea Scholars from Honokaʻa High School, Hokunani Sanchez and Keilani Steele. These two accomplished students shared the results of their 2017 research into dark nebula. Ms. Steele shared her second Maunakea Scholars project, observing the Draco Dwarf Galaxy at W.M. Keck Observatory.

Coming up at ‘Imiloa

‘Imiloa is planning two free, fun public events. On Aug. 26, the center is hosting the Second Annual ‘Ōhi‘a Love Fest, a lively festival made especially for kids and families. And on Oct. 28, a family event on Wayfinding will feature traditional open-ocean navigation without instrumentation.

You are invited to visit ‘Imiloa and celebrate the wonderful nexus of science and Native Hawaiian cultural traditions.

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: Helping UH Hilo campus and local communities during Kīlauea eruption

Throughout this eruption, our campus and local communities have shown once again that we are sustained and made stronger by the spirit of caring for one another.

UH Hilo seal, red lettering University of Hawaii and the state motto.The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is closely monitoring the current Kīlauea eruption and giving assistance to our students, faculty and staff who are affected. No other campus in the country deals with the wide range of natural challenges that we have here on Hawai‘i Island, and the university ‘ohana is meeting the challenge this summer—we are doing what we can to help our campus and local communities..

Support for campus community

UH Hilo classes and operations are continuing as usual this summer and into the fall semester. Since the onset of the eruption in May, a high priority has been outreach to students who are directly impacted. We continue to provide emergency housing for students who are displaced by the lava flows and we are looking at options for extending some level of emergency housing for students into the fall semester.

Information is available in myriad ways to provide all students and their parents, faculty and staff with support through campus and community resources.

For example, we regularly update the 2018 Puna Lava Flow website with information for our university ‘ohana such as recent messages from the Office of the Chancellor, FAQs, information on housing, safety, wellness resources, contact information, and more.

Farrah Marie Gomes
Farrah-Marie Gomes

The Division of Student Affairs has increased outreach to prospective, new and current students through email, phone, and social media. Our Counseling Services are available for assistance with counseling, consulting, and outreach to help students find appropriate resources.

Our Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Farrah-Marie Gomes is personally available as the point of contact for student inquiries relating to housing, food, transportation, counseling or other needs.

Community outreach

On another front, UH Hilo is directly involved in the emergency response efforts by providing a safe haven for agencies and organizations directly involved in monitoring the eruption and supporting the many individuals and families impacted.

The Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory, previously located in Volcanoes National Park, which is now closed due to the eruption, has moved their operation and staff to the UH Hilo campus. This includes personnel from the U.S. Geological Survey that were sent to Hawaiʻi to respond to the eruption. USGS is the source of information for county and state emergency officials when it comes to volcanic and earthquake hazards.

Red Cross worker at lava flow
Red Cross worker at lava eruption.

We also are hosting the American Red Cross Hawai‘i Chapter operation headquarters for disaster response. Red Cross, along with Hawai‘i County partners, are supporting the shelters and have distributed thousands of necessary items and are working with the Salvation Army to provide meals. Additionally, trained Red Cross nurses and mental health volunteers are staffing the shelters and have provided health and mental health services to those in need.

Data collection

In addition to these support systems set up on campus, UH Hilo is playing a vital role in the emergency response to this historic volcanic eruption. UH Hilo professors, scientists and students are providing valuable expertise and resources on multiple fronts, helping government officials assess the hazards to personnel and the public, and decide where and how to respond.

Scientist examining lava sample.
UH Hilo scientist examines lava sample.

One team of UH Hilo scientists is collecting visual data of the lava flows via drones. Another team is collecting daily samples of lava, doing lab analysis, and getting the information back to USGS within hours. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for UH Hilo undergraduate students who are testing the lava samples.

UH Hilo also is providing another vital resource to USGS—highly qualified employees. Three recent graduates of UH Hilo are among the two dozen USGS personnel working around the clock to gather and analyze up-to-the-minute information on the eruption and lava flows.

Stay informed

I encourage everyone on our island affected by the eruption or other natural disasters to review their personal preparations and emergency plans. Always listen to the latest County Civil Defense messages on the radio and TV, visit the CD website daily, and follow the instructions. The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website is the best resource for daily eruption updates.

Throughout this eruption, our campus and local communities have shown once again that we are sustained and made stronger by the spirit of caring for one another. We are going through this emergency together, supporting each other through crisis, recovery and eventual reconstruction—this serves as a model for communities throughout the world dealing with disaster response. UH Hilo is committed to its role in this important work.

Stay safe.

Marcia Sakai

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