Chancellor Donald Straney Biography

2013 Spring Commencement

Donald O. Straney was appointed chancellor at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo in 2010. Previously, he served eight years as dean of the College of Science and professor of biology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He was on the board of directors of the Desert Studies Center, the Ocean Studies Institute, and the Strategic Planning Council of the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology. Before that, he spent 23 years at Michigan State University as chair of the Department of Zoology and assistant to the provost for faculty development.

At UH Hilo, the university is improving graduation rates, transfers from the local community college, and numbers of Native Hawaiian and STEM students and graduates. Trends also are shifting upward in research and scholarly activity, with more research proposals submitted and more research dollars coming in. An Office of Applied Learning is increasing opportunities for students to apply their classroom knowledge to real-life experiences in the community at businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies.  

UH Hilo also is improving campus-wide efficiency in several areas, notably technology infrastructure and sustainability measures with special focus on energy conservation. In addition, the university is working closely with key stakeholders in the local educational, agricultural and business communities to address economic, workforce, and quality of life issues.

Straney serves on the Hawai‘i County Workforce Investment Board, the Board of Directors of the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce, the Hawai‘i Aeronautics Advisory Committee, and the Board of Directors of the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES). He also serves on the National Advisory Board of the Center for the Integration of Teaching, Research and Learning, a National Science Foundation initiative at the University of Wisconsin.

An evolutionary biologist by training, Straney studied patterns of change in a variety of organisms in his research. He received his doctor of philosophy in zoology from the University of California, Berkeley, and his master of science in zoology from Michigan State University.

Updated Feb. 2015


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