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Tag: Community Outreach

Legislative Testimony by the Chancellor on HB 1496 Relating to Agribusiness

Testimony Presented Before the
House Committee on Higher Education
February 10, 2011 at 2:00pm
By
Donald Straney, Chancellor
University of Hawai‘i at Hilo
and
Virginia Hinshaw, Chancellor
University of Hawai‘i at Manoa
and
Sylvia Yuen
Interim Dean and Director of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

HB 1496 RELATING TO AGRIBUSINESS

The purpose of HB 1496 is to require the University of Hawai‘i to convene a task force to conduct a study on whether an agribusiness cooperative program should be established to:

1. assist local farmers in increasing the distribution of products to large retail establishments; and
2. develop feed mills located in this state to lower farm expenses and minimize the carbon impact of transporting feed imports to local farmers.

The bill also requires a proposal on the means by which the agribusiness cooperative program may be permanently funded through private and public funds and a recommendation on the appropriate state agency or department under which the program should be established.

A thorough study on the above will entail the gathering and analysis of data, which will require resources. However, no resources are provided for the mandates in the bill.

We support HB 1496 provided that funds are available to support the task force and its work, and provided that its passage does not replace or adversely impact priorities as indicated in the University’s Board of Regents Approved Executive Biennium Budget.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

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Testimony by the Chancellor to the Hawai‘i State Legislature

Legislative Testimony
University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
January 3, 2011
Hawai‘i State Legislature
Honolulu

UH Hilo has distinguished itself by combining teaching, service and scholarship to improve the wellbeing and status of citizens on Hawai‘i Island and across the state. We are the only university serving our island; our reach continues to grow beyond East Hawai‘i to centers in other areas of our island. Our smaller classes are taught by full-time faculty who bring their research to student learning. On-campus labs are complemented by the island’s vibrant “living laboratory” – making UH Hilo an ideal place to study astronomy, volcanology, marine science, indigenous language revitalization, and other fields. The College of Pharmacy and School of Nursing provide shared leadership to improve access to and quality of health care for our rural communities. We oversee the statewide Small Business Development Center and the Office of Mauna Kea Management, both of which are crucial to the State’s economy and future. Lastly, we contribute to quality of life and a “university town” through our performing arts, athletic events, and cultural enrichment offerings.

UH Hilo’s cumulative budget reduction now totals $8.5 million, which is 24% of our FY 2008-09 general fund allocation. Yet, UH Hilo continues to specialize in serving students who are economically disadvantaged, first generation in college, and/or from underrepresented minority groups, including 22% who are Native Hawaiians. Half of our students are from Hawai‘i Island (with a growing number from the other islands) and 70% are Hawai‘i residents. We have coped with the cuts by reducing non-instructional programs for students, increasing extramural awards to $27 million (from an average of about $4 million/year in the 1990s), generating $15 million in private gifts via the UH Centennial campaign, eliminating temporary positions, freezing civil service positions, and implementing collective bargaining salary reductions. More specifically:

  • Our Long Range Budget Planning Committee has encouraged innovative budget efficiencies ranging from updating light fixtures to reducing energy consumption and consolidating service agreements. For example, we recently equipped a residence hall cafeteria to also serve as a large-capacity classroom during certain hours of the day. Similarly, we merged all of our various academic support services into one center and consolidated existing medical and counseling services into one unit to reduce overhead.
  • Our Enrollment Management Implementation Team led efforts to offer fewer classes to more students in Falls of 2009 and 2010, with a higher seat fill-rate. We also generated more student semester hours. EMIT monitors and manages recruitment, admissions and registration efforts to generate incremental, manageable enrollment increases so that we can balance the University budget with tuition revenue.
  • Hiring of faculty positions were deferred in such high demand fields as biology, chemistry, psychology, communications, and English; search processes to fill vacant positions in student affairs, administrative affairs and university relations were also delayed.
  • We protected certain priorities to ensure health/safety and minimize institutional liability/risk. These included medical services, counseling services, campus security, classroom instruction, and essential repairs/maintenance. However, this meant that other departments received larger cuts proportionally.
  • We are generating new revenue streams through entrepreneurial efforts, particularly at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, in the Office of Intercollegiate Athletics, and elsewhere across campus. Similarly, to fulfill capital construction project needs, we are pursuing private-public partnerships (in the case of new student residential facilities) and using revenue bonds (in the case of temporary buildings).

For every $1.00 in state investment, UH Hilo generates an additional $3.06 in direct expenditures. We infuse $240 million per year into the local economy and provide 3,900 direct and indirect jobs [1]. Your continued support and investment will allow UH Hilo to continue serving our community in vital, meaningful and critical ways. Thank you for the opportunity to provide this testimony.

[1] David Hammes, UH Hilo Economics Professor, February 2008.

Remarks by the Chancellor to Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawai‘i, Hilo

Remarks by UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawai
i
August 17, 2010
‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii
UH Hilo University Park of Science and Technology
Hilo

JCCIH logoThank you. It is a pleasure to be here today.

I’m really happy to be here in Hilo. Since July, I’ve been working with the faculty and staff at the university and interfacing with the community every chance I get. There is a lot of talent and expertise on campus and some great opportunities on this island and in the state.

Part of the reason I took this job is because of the UH Hilo’s special role in access to higher education.

Along with Hawai‘i Community College, we are the only source of higher education on this island. The island of Hawai’i is as big as the rest of the state combined, but there are eight UH campuses and several private colleges to meet their needs. We are responsible for taking students as they come—we are not selective in the way many other campuses are. But we graduate students who compete well for jobs with people who went to those selective schools. UH Hilo meets the needs of students who would not thrive at a big, urban university. We offer small classes, close contact with instructors, hands-on approach to learning.

I was also intrigued because you can easily see and gauge the impact that this university has on the island’s economy and social life. In Los Angeles, we served 12 million people; our impact was invisible. Here, we can see where UH Hilo graduates work and what UH Hilo programs can do to build the economy of the island. We are accountable for our impact.

Accountability is important. In this election season, it is easy to be reminded how accountable politicians are, and how closely we look at their accomplishments. Senator Daniel Inouye has been here today, I’m going to thank him personally for the impact he has had on UH Hilo students and our community. My predecessor, Rose Tseng, truly feels that his support and encouragement have been crucial to UH Hilo’s progress. The projects he supports are hands-on, problem solving, and results oriented—just the type of thing that UH Hilo can do well.

We are sitting in one example of how Senator Inouye’s vision has helped us create a facility that benefits not just the campus, but the community and even visitors. In just a few short years, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i has become an integral part of our community, embraced by Native Hawaiians and the astronomy community. ‘Imiloa now serves as a model for other science centers to show how science and culture may be integrated.

When I look at the success its programs have, I am led to wonder what the next step is that we can take. There is often a tension between technology and culture. I think we can learn from ‘Imiloa’s success to learn how technology and culture can be mutually beneficial.

Our College of Pharmacy is another important initiative championed by Senator Inouye. The college is already giving back to the community, especially through its leadership of the Hawaii County Beacon Community Consortium, which has so much potential to improve health care on our island.

I hope our work can continue to benefit from the senator’s vision for the future of the state.

Since taking up the chancellorship, I’ve been asking a series of questions wherever I go. I’m trying to integrate the answers that I hear into my sense of what future we might create with the UH Hilo.

  • How does UH Hilo integrate into the island of Hawaii’s economic and cultural community?
  • How does the island benefit from our campus being here?
  • Role of business—not done until it enters the market
  • How do we tell students were graduate from Hawai‘i?
  • What role do internships play?
  • How can we serve the whole island?
  • What programs, offered where?
  • Special needs: rural health care?
  • What is our role in food production/value added?
  • What is our role in marine resources?
  • Through our Office of Mauna Kea Management, we will implement the Comprehensive Management Plan for the Mauna Kea Science Reserve. We will earn the community’s trust that the natural and cultural resources will be protected, thus maintaining the conditions under which science on the mountain may develop and evolve into the future.
  • How can we enhance the quality of education in a way that also enhances quality of life for the larger community?
  • Graduation, help students learn. The longer they take to graduate, the longer it is before they earn, and contribute.

Summation

In my years in administration, I’ve learned that it can be a creative activity when we develop and launch new academic programs or initiate projects–such as this science and technology park–to improve the local economy. It’s creative, but nothing is accomplished alone. We work with others–from the time a need is first identified. We then collaborate with others to fill that need.

I’m fortunate that UH Hilo has a close relationship with business, the community and political leadership over the years. We have a history of productive cooperation that I’m eager to continue.

Thank you.

Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: Aug. 2010

Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce
Aug. 2010

UH Hilo’s North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center

As I move into my second month as University of Hawai‘i at Hilo chancellor, I’m discovering how many excellent programs and facilities this university has to offer. I’ve begun a series of visits with all the units of UH Hilo, and I’m finding much to be proud of.

In this month’s column, I’d like to highlight one important UH Hilo off-campus facility: the North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center in Honoka‘a. Since May of 2006, NHERC has been meeting diverse community needs under the leadership of its entrepreneurial director, Farrah-Marie Gomes.

NHERC’s mission is to provide access to college credit classes, lifelong learning opportunities, and a centralized, technology-rich meeting place for the North Hawai‘i community.

The center grew out of a collaboration involving UH Hilo, Hawaii Community College, North Hawai‘i communities, and the Hawai‘i State legislature. The facility is fully equipped with up-to-date instructional technology, classrooms, large meeting spaces, and a computer lab.

To increase access to higher education, college classes are offered at NHERC during the fall and spring semesters. Classes typically attract a mix of high school students and non-traditional adult learners, which leads to interesting discussions and unique learning experiences. Recently, online classes have been added to provide even more options for students.

High school students regularly participate in credit classes through the Running Start program, which allows them to receive credits for both high school and college. NHERC also offers credit classes in Waimea at Kanu o ka ‘Aina.

The number of non-traditional, adult learners has increased, partly because we are making evening classes available at sites closer to home. For many North Hawai‘i residents, the need to work full time and also meet family responsibilities hinders access to higher education opportunities in either Hilo or Kona. Local residents are now realizing that it may be possible to attain their higher education goals through NHERC.

Students are able to access university support services from NHERC. The center’s Distance Learning Coordinator and Academic Support Specialist provide assistance to both prospective and current students. Additionally, NHERC provides support, including exam proctoring, to students working on online degrees and certificates offered by other UH system campuses.

In the spirit of responsiveness, a scholarship fund was created to assist in meeting students’ financial needs with partial and full tuition scholarships. Over thirty scholarships have been awarded thus far.

Lifelong learning classes are also provided to help people explore new activities and build new skills. Topics offered and class locations depend upon community demand. In addition to NHERC, classes have been given in Ka‘u, Pahoa, Waikoloa, and Kona. In some cases, when NHERC is unable to meet an identified need, NHERC has been able to find an entity willing to step in to fulfill that need for the community.

The NHERC facility is still expanding. By January, construction should be completed for a number of additional rooms, an outdoor pavilion, and space for the new Heritage Center. The search process is also under way for a faculty member to serve as the Heritage Center Coordinator, with an estimated start date for this position of January 2011.

UH Hilo is able to maintain a strong presence in North Hawai‘i through NHERC’s creative thinking and resourceful approach to challenges. The center’s staff also works closely with the community, most notably NHERC’s community advisory board, which helps guide the center’s development. By collaborating with the community in creative ways, NHERC’s talented and dedicated staff is able to provide opportunities for North Hawai‘i residents to pursue college education without leaving home.

Donald Straney
Chancellor, UH Hilo

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