Last night was an anxious time for us all and today brings an opportunity to give thanks that the UH Hilo ‘ohana has come through this latest challenge in good shape.
On behalf of the entire campus, I’d like to thank the staff, students and faculty who worked throughout the night to meet the needs of people on campus, plan for every eventuality, secure our facilities and coordinate with Civil Defense. It was work most people didn’t see, but it was done with professionalism and care. Mahalo for your efforts. A special thanks to those who helped our students from Japan contact family and who checked that our students studying in Japan were safe.
In our gratitude for the outcome in Hilo, though, we must not forget the people on this island, in other parts of the Pacific and especially in Japan who suffered much more from this earthquake and tsunami. The wave connects us and makes their plight part of our concern. The victims and their families are in our thoughts and prayers. They should have our support however we can give it.
February 23, 2011: University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s new Chancellor, Donald Straney, has been at the helm for nearly nine months. He says the UH Hilo campus is very different from the 20,000-student UH Mānoa campus. From Kona, Sherry Bracken tells us more.
The new building to house the College of Hawaiian Language promises to be both functional and extraordinarily beautiful, with profound symbolic and spiritual elements.
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.
“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.
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.
University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
January 3, 2011
Hawai‘i State Legislature
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 . 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.
 David Hammes, UH Hilo Economics Professor, February 2008.