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Tag: UH Hilo Community

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

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

Message from Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai: Mahalo for pulling together, caring for our students

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

aerial view of campusI want to thank everyone for pulling together to support our students and one another over the last two weeks.

The Kilauea eruption has made what is already a busy time of year very challenging, and we are mindful of those in our UH Hilo ‘ohana and larger Hawai‘i Island community who are directly
affected.

Through this difficult time, all of you stepped up and proved once again that the foundation of this campus is truly driven by the spirit of caring for one another.

Now that we’ve made it through finals, we can look forward to tomorrow’s Commencement exercises to celebrate our graduates’ achievements.

Again, mahalo for all that you do, and I wish everyone the best for a safe and restful summer. I look forward to seeing you in the fall.

Marcia Sakai

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: Spring 2018: An exciting semester of positive learning experiences for our students and community

Here are a few of the exciting things happening at UH Hilo as we work together to provide positive learning experiences and support to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead.

As UH Hilo heads toward the end of the spring 2018 semester and commencement, I’d like to share a few highlights with you.

Student accomplishments

Earlier in the semester, three UH Hilo students each received a 2018 UH President’s Green Initiative Award recognizing their initiative, innovation, creativity and civic engagement in campus and community sustainability with cash prizes. Kasey Buchanan received the Johnson Controls Green Leader Award for a campus waste reduction project. Kara Spaulding received the HEI Charitable Foundation Green Leader Award for developing sustainability curriculum in the arts and perpetuating natural and cultural resources. Zoe Whitney received an honorable mention for producing a UH Hilo Carbon and Nitrogen Report Card.

Group of students stand with representative.
State Rep. Mark Nakashima (center) stands with UH Hilo HOSA delegates (l-r) Jeremy Villanueva, Lark Jason Canico, Kelly Gani, Leslie Arce, Travis Taylor, Sheldon Cabudol and Deserie Pagatpatan. Missing: Daniel Kimura, Kateleen Caye Bio and Kendrick Justin Dalmacio. Courtesy photo.

UH Hilo students excelled at the 13th Annual Health Occupation Students of America–Future Health Professionals State Leadership Conference held on O‘ahu in February. All 10 UH Hilo delegates competing at the conference placed in their events, with one team taking first place in their category. In the process, students honed public speaking and interpersonal communication skills, gained knowledge, and networked.

Three students from the Marine Options Program at UH Hilo came home in April with four awards from the statewide MOP Student Symposium held on O‘ahu. The annual event features oral and poster presentations by undergraduate students from around the state. This year’s UH Hilo winners: Wheatley Crawley for best poster presentation (conservation at Wai‘opae), Michelle Nason received the John P. Craven Child of the Sea award (project on a coral nursery), and Julia Stewart won best research project (coral research using bioinformatics) and the Ana Toy Ng MOP Memorial award (for contributions to MOP).

These accomplished students—and many others too many to name here in this column—are already contributing in positive ways to local and global communities. Their research, leadership, sustainability, conservation and community-based projects are making an impact. I look forward to seeing more of their academic accomplishments and their work in the world after graduation.

Community

Group with sign Blue Zones Project Approved, sponsor logos.
Group gathers at event celebrating Blue Zones Project Approved status.

In April, UH Hilo received official designation as a Blue Zones approved workplace. The Blue Zones project is a worldwide initiative to promote healthy living and long lives. UH Hilo now joins a number of businesses and organizations working together to transform Hilo into a Blue Zones community by adopting healthy practices. As an institution of higher learning, we are already well-versed in developing healthy minds. We can now look forward to taking that next step to promoting overall physical well-being. Activities on campus include walking groups, healthy cooking demonstrations, and many other wellness pursuits.

The iconic Hawaiian double-hulled sailing canoe, Hōkūle‘a, visited Hilo in April as part of its statewide “Mahalo Hawaiʻi Sail” as the crew expresses mahalo to numerous communities for their support of the three-year Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage from 2014 to 2017. UH Hilo co-hosted an educational expo in April at Wailoa Pier where hundreds of schoolchildren and others from the East Hawai‘i community enjoyed tours of the Hōkūle‘a and hands-on educational activities to showcase ocean navigation’s connection to science, math, culture and conservation (photos). We’re proud of our very own Pwo Navigator and Captain Kālepa Baybayan and the many other people from the UH Hilo ‘ohana who participated in the worldwide voyage and the recent expo.

Public tours of Hōkūle‘a. UH Hilo co-sponsored Educational Expo, Wailoa Pier, Hilo.

A panel discussion on incorporating Hawaiian cultural knowledge with modern western science to meet the sustainability challenges facing Hawai‘i today was held at UH Hilo in February. The discussion was part of the 6th Annual Hawai‘i Sustainability in Higher Education Summit held over the course of three days on Hawai‘i Island. Delegations from all 10 UH campuses gathered to learn from local practitioners, national experts, and each other, and to set the action agenda for upcoming campus initiatives.

Looking forward

On July 1st, the new College of Natural and Health Sciences will be established. It will house the current Division of Natural Sciences, School of Nursing, and Department of Kinesiology and Exercise Sciences. Jim Beets, professor of marine science and current chair of the Division of Natural Sciences, has agreed to serve as the interim dean of the new college. A national search for a permanent dean will soon be launched.

And we have a recent update from UH President David Lassner about the search for the next permanent UH Hilo chancellor, now expected to be completed by the end of 2018 with our new leader in place in spring 2019.

These are just a few of the exciting things happening at UH Hilo as we work together to provide positive learning experiences and support to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead. I wish you all a safe and wonderful summer.

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

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