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Tag: 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

Firm selected to assist with UH Hilo chancellor search

The search is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, with the new chancellor in place in spring 2019.

UH Hilo seal, red lettering University of Hawaii and the state motto.A professional search firm has been selected to assist in the search for the next University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo chancellor as originally intended when the search was announced. Witt/Kieffer is a national executive search firm with nearly 50 years of experience. The search is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, with the new chancellor in place in spring 2019.

Applications continue to be accepted through the summer with the finalists conducting campus visits in fall 2018. This will allow full participation by all stakeholders before a selection is made.

UH President David Lassner will receive input from the committee and stakeholders and present a recommendation to the UH Board of Regents. More information and a complete position description can be found on the UH Hilo Chancellor search website.

Marcia Sakai will continue to serve as interim chancellor until the new chancellor begins.

The 16-member search committee is comprised of faculty, staff, students and community members and is co-chaired by Farrah-Marie Gomes, UH Hilo vice chancellor for student affairs, and Vassilis Syrmos, UH System vice president for research and innovation.

“The next chancellor will be critical in strengthening UH Hilo’s unique position in the state and beyond,” said Lassner when the search was announced in December 2017. “The next chancellor must lead the campus vigorously forward with a spirit of innovation and collaboration in order to adapt to the changing environment for higher education in Hawaiʻi and across the nation.”

 

UH System News

Message from the Chancellor to New and Returning Students about impact of lava event

Operations are normal at UH Hilo and the university is busy preparing to welcome students to campus in August for the start of classes.

Aloha New and Returning Students,

UH Hilo seal, red lettering University of Hawaii and the state motto.I hope you are enjoying your summer so far. As you may be aware, the volcanic eruption on Hawai ‘i Island that started on May 3, 2018, has received widespread media coverage. I want to reassure everyone that operations are normal at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. The closest area affected by the eruption is 20 miles from Hilo, and the volcanic activity has had no direct impact on the town of Hilo and most of Hawai‘i Island. That includes our airports, harbors and the majority of roads. It is  absolutely safe to travel to and around Hawai‘i Island.

Many members of our island community, including some of your peers have been impacted, and they remain in our minds, hearts, and prayers. We remain committed to the success of all our students and continue to work with those in need during this difficult time, whether that is through issuance of incomplete grades to allow extra time for course completion or emergency housing due to evacuation. We encourage all students who are impacted, directly or indirectly, to keep reaching out to us.

Our UH Hilo mission states that the purpose of our university ‘ohana (family) is to challenge students to reach their highest level of academic achievement by inspiring learning, discovery and creativity inside and outside the classroom. Our kuleana (responsibility) is to improve the quality of life of the people of Hawai‘i, the Pacific region and the world. To this end I am very proud of our faculty, staff and students who have shared their expertise and resources to help others in this situation.

At UH Hilo, we believe that one learns from many sources. For us, the eruption puts us in the unique position of being able to observe and study geology first-hand and in real time. Before our eyes, we are seeing and experiencing science and culture unfold in ways that are not available anywhere else in the world.

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Farrah-Marie Gomes. Announcements and regular updates on the volcano eruption are posted on our webpage Joint UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi CC Information on the 2018 Puna Lava Flow.

As you enjoy your summer, please know that your university is busy preparing for the fall semester, and we are excited to welcome you to campus in August for the start of classes. I promise that you will coming to a place dedicated to creating an environment where you can focus on your higher education and thrive

Mahalo nui loa,

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: Update on Enrollment

The purpose of new activity in enrollment management is for Hawai‘i Island’s college bound students to have access to higher education options on our island and to be successful in their academic endeavors.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo community has been hard at work this past year with new programs in recruiting, retaining, and graduating our students. Along with the other UH System campuses, we’ve developed a five-year enrollment plan that captures the complete enrollment cycle of students: recruitment, initial enrollment, first year retention, graduation or transfer, and ultimately active alumni.

We’re taking an action oriented approach that recognizes the many factors that contribute to a higher education organization that functions well for student success, from enhanced fiscal management, human resources, student services, strategic planning, and technologies to policies, procedures, academic offerings, marketing, and alumni relations. The entire university community is all-in on this effort.

Recruitment

Snip of UH Hilo Facebook page with aerial photo of campus, UH Hilo logo, Facebook logo.
UH Hilo is communicating opportunities to students of the 21st century with tools of the 21st century, e.g. more focus on social media.

Our connection with prospective students focuses on communicating about our unique academic and cultural setting, the quality of our academic and research experiences, and our commitment to access to higher education and student success.

UH Hilo is communicating these opportunities to students of the 21st century with tools of the 21st century. There is more focus on social media and texting, reducing barriers that students face between application and registration, and helping students navigate the new online registration system.

Among the many new activities is outreach at high schools that includes workshops and Prep Days on Hawai‘i Island and O‘ahu where students can meet with advising counselors to receive personal attention with class registration. Workshops and Prep Days this past spring semester have the potential of yielding $600 thousand in tuition revenue. Hawai‘i Island’s next Prep Day is June 15.

Retention

Web snip with the words: Advising Center, Sta On Track
Advising to freshmen is mandatory, and students are required to declare a major after 60 credits.

We’ve also ramped up communication with current students.

We practice early outreach to students through the introductory course University 101 and the peer tutoring program in key first year courses. We extend outreach to all sophomores, juniors, and seniors with reminders about advising, registration, deadlines, and holds that would prevent registration. Individual students on academic warning and probation are advised to connect with support programs.

Student success online workshops are available starting June 1.

Financial Aid has increased its communication to students through weekly emails about requirements and deadlines, and notifications regarding their financial aid academic progress status.
Strengthening our advising programs across campus is a best practice that will make a great impact on retention. Advising to freshmen is mandatory, and students are required to declare a major after 60 credits. Select departments are conducting their own advising, some using peer mentors; we now have dedicated academic advisors and peer advisors in psychology, kinesiology, pre-nursing, and marine science. Last semester, 83 students spent a total of 427 hours with mentors. We are currently in the process of reviewing the matching of students and mentors for fall 2018 registration.

Graduation

Group of students sitting together watching poi pounding demonstration.
One of the most successful retention programs through graduation is the living-learning communities program. Above is a Hawaiian Language and Culture cohort from a previous semester.

To help our students persist to graduation, several of our colleges are streamlining curricula. One of our colleges is connecting students with career mentors from the local community. Another is allowing reasonable academic modifications to major requirements in order to graduate students in a timely manner. There are new tracks to accommodate students that provide alternatives to entry into selective baccalaureate programs.

We have a new curriculum and catalog coordinator who is working with faculty to work out glitches as everyone transitions to the new registration software.

One of the most successful programs is our living-learning communities program, where students are grouped in cohorts according to major and interests. Students are housed together, forming close friendships and a strong support system to get them to the finish line. Research shows that students in living-learning communities are more likely to stay in college, earn a higher grade point average, and experience a greater degree of satisfaction with their overall college experience. All six communities at UH Hilo are on schedule for fall: business entrepreneurship, creative arts, environmental sustainability, Hawaiian language and culture, health and wellness, and natural sciences.

It takes a community

The purpose of this activity in enrollment management is for Hawai‘i Island’s college bound students to have access to higher education options on our island and to be successful in their academic endeavors.

We must all work together—our university community and our local island community—to be successful at these new directions in improving recruitment, retention and graduation. Together, we can build a stronger, more accessible university for the people of our island, state, and region.

For more information, visit our Enrollment Management website.

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

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