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UH Hilo Chancellor's Blog Posts

Chancellor’s response to Mauna Loa eruption, Nov. 28

November 28, 2022


As many of you are aware, Mauna Loa erupted last night just before midnight. At this time lava flows are not threatening any downslope communities and all indications are that the eruption will remain in the Northeast Rift Zone.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College are closely monitoring the ongoing Mauna Loa activity and formulating contingency plans to address situations that may arise.

We recognize that we are in a critical phase of the academic year with finals and commencement coming up. And we recognize the highest priority of health, safety and ‘ohana. At this time classes are continuing as scheduled.

We will update the campus if the situation changes.

In addition, please keep yourself informed by listening to the latest Civil Defense messages and following their instructions, and by visiting the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory page.


Bonnie Irwin


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Faculty and Staff are invited to the next University Forum, Nov. 29.

Poster: University Forum, with flags

Faculty and staff at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo are invited to the next University Forum on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, noon to 1:00 p.m., University Classroom Building, room 127.

This month’s forum combines November and December’s forums.

Questions may be submitted in advance to

Call the Office of University Relations with any questions.

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Presentation: University Update to the UH Board of Regents, Nov. 17, 2022

For their monthly meeting, the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents met at UH Hilo on Nov. 17, 2022 (see full agenda and materials). The meeting was held at the UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy and was the first BOR meeting held on a neighbor island campus since November 2019 due to the pandemic.

On the agenda was a presentation by Chancellor Bonnie Irwin who gave the regents an update on UH Hilo. Also presenting for UH Hilo: Karen Pellegrin of the Faculty Congress, Lei Kapono on behalf of the Hanakahi Council, Blaine Bautista and Matthew Kalahiki of the Staff Council, and student Blue of the UH Hilo Student Association.

Here is the PowerPoint of the presentation. Click images to enlarge.

Title slide: University Update to the UH Board of Regents

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Chancellor’s Monthly Column, November 2022: Who are our students?

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

As we watch the university enrollment trends across the country, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is not too different from our peers. Nationwide, there are fewer college-aged students to go around, and colleges and universities compete for enrollment and try to distinguish themselves as best we can. Almost every university touts individual attention, expert faculty and meaningful student experiences. We can argue that UH Hilo does these things better, but when everyone else is making the same claim, it becomes hard to distinguish our excellence. Why do certain students choose UH Hilo and how do we know who will thrive here? These are the questions that our recent data efforts seek to answer.

We start with data.

Who comes to UH Hilo? Like many other places, we see more women coming through our doors than men—64% vs. 35% (1% did not report). We know we serve an ethnically diverse population. Indeed US News & World Report has named us the most diverse National University for the last few years. Within that diversity, about a third of our students identify as Native Hawaiian, 19% as Asian, and 24% Caucasian. Most notably, and a reflection of our island, some 14% identify themselves as mixed race. As I have noted before, this diversity is one of the great strengths of our campus and our community.

We serve mostly Hawaiʻi residents: 71% of our students are considered residents for admissions purposes. Of those students, the majority come from Hawaiʻi county. We are the local campus, the most affordable university option. Still, many families choose to send students to the countinent for their education. That is certainly understandable, given the desire that young people (and their parents) have for a broader experience, but how many of our local families know that UH Hilo is a member of the National Student Exchange, which allows our students to attend another university on the continent while paying their in-state UH tuition? The same applies to our numerous international exchange partners.

Once we know who comes, the harder question to answer is, “Who stays?” For example, we find that the graduation rate for Native Hawaiian students is roughly the same as that for the student body as a whole. Our Native Hawaiian support programs, such as peer mentoring, certainly help with this. We will learn from these programs to see how we can best support other students. We also know that we retain and graduate our resident students at a higher rate than our out-of-state students.

The companion question, of course, is, “Who leaves?” A group of faculty and staff participated in the Student Success Data Analytics program last year, and the issue that they have chosen to tackle is how the leaving and staying play out among our transfer students. Once we learn who leaves and who stays (by major, by race, by residence), we will follow up with focus groups and interviews. Why do people leave? We know that sometimes there are personal issues that come up that cannot be avoided. If a non-resident student leaves, we also consider the impact of homesickness. Other times, a student decides on an academic path that is not available here. In some cases, a student may never have planned to stay, but opted to start at Hilo because it was convenient.

Finding answers to these questions will allow us to better serve our students, grow our enrollment, and ensure that UH Hilo remains the vibrant and successful university that that Hawai‘i needs and Hawai‘i Island deserves.

With aloha,

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, UH Hilo

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Faculty and staff are invited to next University Forum, Oct. 26

Poster: University Forum, with flags

Faculty and staff at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo are invited to the next University Forum scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, noon to 1:00 p.m., via Zoom.

Zoom link:
Meeting ID: 955 0854 5862
Passcode: 710671

Beginning this month, University Forums via Zoom will no longer be recorded.

Questions may be submitted in advance to

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