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Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: March 2011

Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce
March 2011

Growing our campus strengthens our island’s economy

Logo with the words Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce Since 1898The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is more than an institution of higher education, it has a major impact on the island’s economy. A recent estimate is that UH Hilo contributes about $240 million to the economic activity of the state. Here at home, the university employs 610 people and stimulates an additional 3,900 jobs in our local communities. UH Hilo’s University Park of Science and Technology has $900 million in investments and creates 400 jobs.

In these challenging economic times, an effective way to address both job growth and higher education needs is through capital improvement projects on our campus, and we have some exciting projects in the works.

Our new Science and Technology Building is nearing completion. The physics, astronomy, and chemistry departments will move into the $28 million structure that will feature new classrooms, laboratories, and research space. The top-notch facilities and technology will provide UH Hilo students and faculty with state-of-the-art laboratory and research facilities rivaling any in the country, bringing our university’s science disciplines into the 21st century and enabling our graduates to be highly competitive at the graduate school level and in the work force.

We broke ground on our new Student Services Building in January. The three-story structure will house programs to support student success: admissions, registration, financial aid, advising, career development, disability services, counseling, women’s center, and health promotion. Capital improvements like this bring UH Hilo in line with national trends in student services and allow staff to meet the needs of our diverse student population from initial admission to graduation and beyond.

In February, we celebrated the groundbreaking of our award-winning College of Hawaiian Language building. Our island is the best place in the world to study indigenous language and culture revitalization, and we are committed to strengthening and growing the college. The beautiful building already is earning accolades: the Honolulu chapter of the American Institute of Architects gave WCIT Architects the design award for this building in the “Commissioned Work to be Built” category. Both the building and landscape will reflect the Hawaiian culture and our island’s natural resources.

Plans are underway for a permanent building for our College of Pharmacy to be located at the entrance to the University Park of Science and Technology. Now awaiting legislative approval for construction, the facility will give UH Hilo pharmacy students access to state-of-the-art technology in the classroom, affording them an exceptional educational experience that will prepare them well for the job market. With this building, the College of Pharmacy will meet its full potential to educate the health care work force of tomorrow, serve the health care needs of our citizens, and stimulate the economy through grants and research.

Construction is scheduled to begin this summer on a new UH Hilo College Campus Store, which will be an addition to the Campus Center building. We’re excited about this new store because, not only will it be a place for students to buy books, but it will also be a welcoming place to shop, eat, hang out and just enjoy. Serving both UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College, the store’s ultra-modern design will contribute greatly to a lively and inviting sense of community for our students.

UH Board of Regents approves two new degrees at UH Hilo College of Pharmacy

Logo with the words College of Pharmacy University of Hawaii at Hilo.College of Pharmacy to offer BA in pharmacy studies and doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences

HONOLULU – At its monthly meeting held yesterday at Honolulu Community College, the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents approved the bachelor of arts in pharmacy studies and the doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences as provisional programs to be administered by the College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, effective fall 2011.

The UH Hilo College of Pharmacy currently offers a curriculum leading to the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) with the first class of student pharmacists scheduled to graduate in May 2011. The addition of the bachelor of arts in pharmacy studies (BAPS) will give the College of Pharmacy an additional advantage over programs that do not offer such a degree and will make the program even more attractive to applicants. Implementation of the doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences will also give the College of Pharmacy a distinct competitive advantage through research excellence and prepare graduates to be scientists with extensive skills in research design, techniques and methodologies.

“Each of these programs expands our ability to offer students more options in a changing world landscape,” said College of Pharmacy Dean John M. Pezzuto. “The BAPS degree will enhance educational opportunities for our PharmD students and make them more competitive in the marketplace. The doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences complements the PharmD program by exposing students to career prospects beyond the practice of pharmacy. We’ve been building these degree options since the founding of the college.”

The BAPS degree is designed for students enrolled in the PharmD program at the UH Hilo College of Pharmacy. Students who enter the PharmD program at UH Hilo are required to have met pre-pharmacy requirements, but they are not required to have earned a bachelor’s degree. The PharmD curriculum is rigorous and requires four years of studies, surpassing the requirements of a bachelor’s level degree. By providing the BAPS degree option, students will have the opportunity to have their academic achievements properly recognized.

The program supports the Hawai‘i Graduation Initiative of the UH System, which aims to increase the number of UH graduates by 25 percent by 2015. The degree offering will also increase UH Hilo retention rates, as students who participate in the pre-pharmacy program will earn a bachelor’s degree.

The doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences will be the first program of this type to be offered by the University of Hawai‘i, and the only program of this nature to be offered in the state of Hawai‘i and the Pacific region. It will significantly elevate the culture of research, development and technology transfer in the pharmaceutical sciences, with an emphasis on natural products discovery and development and their importance in pharmacy and healthcare in general. This effort is consistent with the UH System’s focus on workforce development and research innovation in contribution to Hawai‘i’s overall economic future.

“Not only will residents of Hawai‘i be able to earn a doctorate in pharmaceutical science without leaving the state, but we will also be able to attract scholars from the mainland and abroad with unparalleled opportunities. The economic and intellectual benefits to the state reach far beyond our imagination at this point,” said Pezzuto.

Kenith Simmons is appointed interim vice chancellor for academic affairs

Aloha,

I’m pleased to report Dr. Kenith Simmons’s appointment as University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s interim vice chancellor for academic affairs is now official.

Kenith Simmons
Kenith Simmons

Dr. Simmons came to UH Hilo in 1979, after receiving her PhD in English literature from the University of Wisconsin. She joined UH Hilo’s Department of English as a contemporary literature and film specialist with considerable experience in teaching English as a second language.

Dr. Simmons’s scholarly work includes numerous publications related to film and contemporary literature. For the past fifteen years she has devoted her creative time to the writing of poetry. Well represented in Hawai‘i literary publications, her work has also appeared nationally and internationally in poetry journals and anthologies.

Since the early 1990s, in addition to continuing to teach, she has served in administrative positions, including chairing the English department and the women’s studies and honors program steering committees. She was humanities division chair for nine years and was the first assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the first assistant vice chancellor for administrative affairs.

An active member of the community, Simmons has served as vice president of the Hawai‘i Concert Society and as a board member of the Hawai‘i Literary Arts Council. She is also a mediator with Kuikahi Mediation Center.

Dr. Simmons received the UH Board of Regents’ Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1984.

Donald Straney
Chancellor

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.

Large group of students coming down dirt drive, headed by Kalena Silva.
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.”

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.

Remarks by the Chancellor to the Rotary Club of South Hilo

Remarks by UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Rotary Club of South Hilo
Feb. 8, 2011

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo:
Helping to Build the Future of Hawai‘i Island

Aloha!

Today I’d like to share my thoughts about the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and what I’ve discovered during my first seven months as chancellor. It’s been an extraordinary learning experience. I’ve discovered that UH Hilo is a university in its own right, and I’ve found a good deal to admire.

Professor with student
UH Hilo faculty is engaged in both teaching and scholarship, providing a very high quality education to our students.

Let me start out by saying I think UH Hilo is an incredibly strong university. We’re blessed with very high quality faculty who could work elsewhere but choose to work here. The faculty is engaged in both teaching and scholarship, providing a very high quality education to our students.

For example, Professor of Philosophy Ron Amundson is studying the ethical impact of the Human Genome Project. Associate Professor of Biology Elizabeth Stacy is doing research, with her conservation biology graduate students, on the biology of lehua ‘ohi‘a. Professor of Marine Science Karla McDermid is a foremost authority on the nutritional and medicinal uses of seaweeds. Professor of Biology Bill Mautz is researching the impact of pollutants on amphibians. Professor of Psychology Vladi Skorikov studies mental health issues of adolescents. And Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Science Andre Bachman is researching new anti-cancer drugs.

Group of students
Enrollment trends continue upwards. This spring semester, we have 2.5% more students than last spring, bringing us to 4,000 students.

Enrollment trends continue upwards. This spring semester, we have 2.5% more students than last spring, bringing us to 4,000 students. 70% are from Hawai‘i, 23% are Native Hawaiian. Freshman: 25% from O‘ahu, 25% international. Growth trajectory: 3-5% a year, especially in regard to retaining continuing students.

I’m fortunate that UH Hilo’s strategic plan expired last year, since it gives me the opportunity to work closely with the campus and community to re-envision our future and rethink our course. Strategic planning is serious undertaking. Our new plan must have a very clear definition of our vision and mission, clear enough to guide us for the next five to ten years: vision, mission, framework and priorities.

Our key strategic goals are: 1) Graduate students faster, for example 15 to finish, and summer tuition scholarships, 2) Deliver programs across the island, for example the North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center in Honoka‘a, West Hawai‘i Campus and 2+2 programs, and 3) Enhance work life on campus, for example streamlining signatures, improving communications, providing shuttles.

In the next few slides, I’d like to talk about our strong comparative advantage.

Class listening to professor at white board.
Comparative advantage: Our small classes are key. They allow students to have the personal attention of PhD faculty who are active scholars in their fields.

Our small classes are key. They allow students to have the personal attention of PhD faculty who are active scholars in their fields. Teaching and scholarship are integrated, and our faculty regularly collaborate with students on research and service projects.

I think of UH Hilo as a “practical university,” one that prepares students well for meaningful and productive careers here at home that will help build our island economy and strengthen our island communities.

Two students working in the campus gardens.
Our island is the best place in the world to study environmental and marine science, astronomy and volcanoes, sustainable agriculture, indigenous and Hawaiian language and culture revitalization, and rural health delivery.

Our island is the best place in the world to study environmental and marine science, astronomy and volcanoes, sustainable agriculture, indigenous and Hawaiian language and culture revitalization, and rural health delivery. There is a strong “sense of place” in these types of fields, and they all present opportunities for our graduates to make lifelong contributions to their own communities and help build a prosperous future.

UH Hilo is more than an institution of higher education, it has a major impact on the island’s economy. A recent estimate is that UH Hilo contributes about $240 million to the economic activity of the state. But our first commitment is to the economic impact here, on our island.

The university employs 610 people and stimulates an additional 3,900 jobs in our local communities. UH Hilo’s University Park of Science & Technology: $900 million in investments, creates 400 jobs.

We’re building many opportunities to attract start-ups to Hilo. UH Hilo’s University Park of Science and Technology is the 5th largest industrial and high tech park in the state at 425 acres (120 currently developed). Along with the USDA, current tenants include astronomical base facilities of Subaru, Smithsonian, UH Institute for Astronomy, Cal Tech, Gemini and Joint Astronomy Centre. Downtown Hilo: UH Hilo’s Hawai‘i Innovation Center is a small business incubator.

A fundamental question that we ask ourselves throughout the strategic planning process: Who are we? UH Hilo is quickly growing beyond 4,000 students. We offer a wide range of liberal arts, professional and graduate programs typically found at larger universities. We focus on student learning, offering students small classes and the personal attention to PhD faculty who are active scholars and who regularly collaborate with students on research and service projects.

But, as you know, the current fiscal situation in state government presents a challenge. Governor Abercrombie said in his State of the State address, “the canoe could capsize,” and “we could all huli.” The challenge is statewide: state government needs to make up $844 million shortfall in next two-and-a-half years. UH Hilo has a 22% reduction in general funds. One of our greatest challenges: limited on-campus housing.

Our strategies during these difficult times include maximizing our comparative advantage in the higher education marketplace that I spoke of earlier; maximizing diverse revenue streams such as extramural grants (more on next slide), fundraising and other income; and to build capacity for increased enrollment (summer sessions, retention, residence halls).

UH Hilo is proactive in generating some of its own income. I’m extremely pleased to see how hard our faculty and staff work to pursue and implement extramural grants. The total for last fiscal year ending June 2010 is $27 million—the highest ever. This year, we have the College of Pharmacy’s Beacon Community Grant $16 million to support health information technology on the island of Hawai‘i.

Professor showing students how to take blood pressure on volunteer.
Planning is underway for Doctor in Nursing Practice.

Despite a challenging budget situation, we are moving forward on some exciting new initiatives: Rural Health Care Center, planning underway for Doctorate in Nursing Practice, and three Pharmacy degrees: BA in Pharmacy Studies, MS in Clinical Psychopharmacology and PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences. More in process, stay tuned!

Science and Technology Building, three story.
Science and Technology Building is near completion.

We continue to strengthen our infrastructure and capacity. This activity also stimulates jobs through construction projects. Our beautiful new $25 million Science and Technology Building is nearing completion! Astronomy/Physics and Chemistry departments will move into the building.

Rendering of Student Services Building, two story, glass front, red roof, students on walkway.
Rendering of Student Services Building.

We are committed to serving our students in the best ways possible. We just broke ground on our new $19 million Student Services Building a couple of weeks ago. The new facility will be on par with national trends with student services centrally located under one roof, giving our students cohesive, effective support in every way possible: admissions, registration, advising, counseling, career development, health promotion and more.

Our island is the best place in the world to study indigenous and Hawaiian language and culture revitalization. We are committed to strengthening and growing these programs. With $28 million in funds released by the governor last year, we will break ground on the $72 million award-winning College of Hawaiian Language building on February 12. It will be a grand celebration. I say award-winning because the Honolulu chapter of the American Institute of Architects gave WCIT Architects the design award for this building in the “Commissioned Work to be Built” category. The building and landscape will reflect Hawaiian culture and Big Island natural resources. I hope you’ll join us for the groundbreaking at the Nowelo Street site this Saturday, February 12 at 9 A.M.

Before closing, I want to share exciting news on the horizon at our College of Pharmacy. The college will graduate its first class of student pharmacists this May. Four years ago, these students could not have studied pharmacy on the island of Hawai‘i. This class is living proof that not only can Pharmacy be studied here, but students can work with faculty recruited from across the world for their skills and abilities as scientists.

Rendering of College of Pharmacy buildings, curved dome roof line.
Rendering of College of Pharmacy facilities.

Our Pharmacy faculty teach as well or better than at any other school in the country. This class launches what I know will be a long line of distinguished PharmD alumni making excellent use of the knowledge and skills gained at UH Hilo. Once this class graduates, full accreditation of the college is expected in June. On the slide is a rendering of the planned permanent building to be located at Nowelo and Komohana streets.

There is so much more I could share! Also on the horizon is our University Village.

I hope that gives you a sense of what is happening at the UH Hilo campus. We have a number of challenges ahead, but I truly believe we’ll be able to do a lot to advance our university this year.

Thank you for your support. You’ve made me feel welcome and I look forward to working with all of you to strengthen higher education opportunities for our island.

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