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UH Hilo Chancellor's Blog Posts

Message from Chancellor Irwin: Strategic Plan is updated and available to view; comments welcome for initial draft of Action Plan

Papahana UH Hilo Strategic Plan

 July 29, 2021

Aloha UH Hilo Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

As the new academic year nears, I am pleased to share with you our Strategic Planning progress.

The UH Hilo Strategic Plan has been updated and available in its final form on our Strategic Planning website. Mahalo for all of your input gathered through various venues.

The initial draft of our Action Plan is now available for your review and we encourage all of you to participate in the online interactive discussion forum through August 31, 2021. Each strategy is listed in the discussion forum to focus comments and discussion around the following leading questions:

Are there action items or deliverables that you would like to recommend be included for this strategy?

Which of these actions are you (or your unit) choosing to sponsor (lead) or actively participate and collaborate with the sponsor?

In making comments and suggestions, please adhere to our UH Hilo Social Media Policy.

This multi-year action plan was developed in consultation with input from the Chancellor’s Executive Council, the Student Success Leadership Team, the Strategic Doing Groups with community and alumni representation, the UH Hilo Hawai‘i Papa O Ke Ao Plan recently updated by the Hanakahi Council, and based upon our campus ‘ohana and community feedback collected throughout this Strategic Planning process.

This is an initial draft of the action plan. As described on page 18 of the Strategic Plan, the action plans for year 1 and subsequent years will be developed based upon feedback from forums like this one.

During this Fall semester, each Action Plan document will be refined. An implementation plan for each action item will be developed that will include a list of collaborators, timeline, resources needed, goal, and expected impact. These implementation plans will assist in determining the action plan year or years for that action as well as the measurable outcomes, so we can regularly report progress to campus.

Mahalo for your commitment to UH Hilo and all members of our campus community.

Bonnie D. Irwin


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Chancellor’s Monthly Column, July 2021: A fiscal year to celebrate

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

I am pleased to share with you the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo 2020-2021 Annual Report.

The year was a challenging one as we navigated through the impacts of the pandemic, something none of us has lived through before. But as I said in my welcome address last fall, it gave us an opportunity to concentrate on what is essential, both at home and at work.

Our successes are largely due to our immensely dedicated faculty, staff, and students who make UH Hilo a remarkable place. Focusing on the mission of the university—to challenge students to reach their highest level of academic achievement—the campus implemented pandemic safety protocols, cleaning regimens, online trainings and courses, and a high standard of service. Facilities staff erected plexiglass barriers, signage, and sanitizing stations for those required to be on campus. Custodial staff mobilized to clean and disinfect spaces. Information technology staff put in extra hours to upgrade online delivery of classes. Budget staff labored over the numbers, figuring out how to stay in business.

Education and community outreach moved forward. Students took their classes and presented their research online. Ka Haka ‘Ula o Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language doctoral candidates defended their dissertations. ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center launched a small camp for keiki, complete with all the physical distancing required. Everyone adapted while faculty continued to deliver a quality education, and students continued to learn about and explore the world, gaining knowledge every step of the way.

Through it all, UH Hilo has remained a truly student-centered campus, serving both the students who were here physically and those who were studying from a distance. High standards were maintained while faculty and staff acted with empathy to students and to one another. And because of this, and despite all the unexpected challenges brought by covid, the university had an immensely successful year, filled with accomplishments, accolades, milestones, and celebrations. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the report for details.

And now we begin to move toward resuming a more familiar normalcy. It has been decided that our campus and the entire UH System will return to pre-pandemic office hours of 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, beginning Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Some units such as the Mookini Library traditionally have different hours of operation from standard office hours. Check unit web pages for updated hours.

ICYMI: The June 27 Hawai‘i Tribune-Herald featured our University Town tabloid. With articles by Kathleen Baumgardner about strategic planning, Jasmine Mahinapolu Koko-Casey about her experiences in our Indigenous Teacher Education program, and Director of Athletics Pat Guillen on our recent Vulcan fundraising campaign, the supplement highlights a number of things going on at UH Hilo. Of particular note is a profile piece on our first baccalaureate graduating class. We celebrate 50 years of providing high quality baccalaureate education here in Hilo! Mahalo to all of you for keeping this grand tradition going.

Congratulations to our School of Education for recently being awarded the full seven years of accreditation along with a commendation by the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation. AAQEP promotes and recognizes quality educator preparation that strengthens the education profession’s ability to serve all students, schools, and communities, and to do so equitably.  AAQEP is nationally recognized  by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Congratulations also to our master’s program in Counseling Psychology (Specialization: Clinical Mental Health Counseling) for receiving full re-accreditation by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) for the period June 2021 through June 2029. The MPCAC accredits academic programs in psychology and counseling, which promote training in the scientific practice of professional psychology and counseling at the master’s level.

UH President David Lassner visited our island briefly in June to meet with donors and alumni. Both groups recognize that our success is a major factor in the quality of life on Hawai‘i Island and expressed their ongoing support for what we do. I hope to make announcements about a community advisory board and an alumni advisory board for the campus by the end of summer. Please send me any suggestions you might have for membership in either group.


Bonnie D. Irwin


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UPDATE, THIS FORUM IS CANCELLED. Next University Forum: UH President David Lassner to join Chancellor Bonnie Irwin, June 23.

THIS EVENT IS CANCELLED. UPDATE FROM CHANCELLOR IRWIN: I apologize for cancelling this Wednesday’s University Forum with President Lassner. I have a family emergency that is taking me to the continent. We will be sure to have our monthly University Forum events in July and August, and I hope to have the president join us on one of those.

Poster: University Forum, with flags

Faculty and staff at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo are invited to the next University Forum on Wednesday, June 23, noon to 1:00 p.m., via Zoom.

Joining UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin will be special guest UH President David Lassner.

Zoom link:
Meeting ID: 929 4686 0585
Passcode: 828143

Questions may be submitted in advance to Contact Deneen Louie with any questions or concerns.

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Chancellor’s Monthly Column, June 2021: Accreditation review will bring fresh perspectives

During the review, our resilience and resourcefulness will be on full display: we know we are not perfect, but we also know that we have overcome challenges and will continue to do so into the future.

Bonnie D. Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

In October, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo will host a team representing the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), the accrediting agency that will assess how well our university is fulfilling its mission in educating students and serving our community.

When they come to visit, they will meet with university students, staff, administrators, campus governing groups, alumni, and community members. They will review reams of data and reports and study how well our students learn, how the university addresses issues of equity, and how we manage our financial and personnel resources.

The Core Commitments of the Organization are the same as our own: Student Learning and Success; Quality and Improvement; and Institutional Integrity, Sustainability, and Accountability. All these commitments reflect the framework in which we operate every day.

In addition to reviewing the institution’s following of the Core Commitments, the team will look to how well our students acquire the Core Competencies: written and oral communication, quantitative reasoning, information literacy, and critical thinking.

Other values, such as an appreciation for diversity and civic engagement are qualities they will look for in our graduates, as well as the so-called soft skills such as working well with others. All the ingredients of a high-quality education will be reviewed and suggestions will be offered.

The process is designed to be collegial and allow our peers (a team of administrators and faculty) to make suggestions so that we can improve. The team understands the challenges we face, particularly as we have had to navigate the pandemic by moving most of the curriculum online and dealing with constrained budgets. It is not a time for trying to cover up our challenges and potential weaknesses, but to demonstrate how we address them and how we plan to improve.

At UH Hilo, our resilience and resourcefulness will be on full display: we know we are not perfect, but we also know that we have overcome challenges and will continue to do so into the future.

The visit will also give us an opportunity to present our plans for the future. The UH System is embarking on a revision of general education, and faculty from across the ten campuses will be engaged in this process, keeping those WSCUC competencies firmly in mind.

UH Hilo will also present its strategic plan to the visiting team. Our goals of strengthening our commitments to students, community and ‘āina, and one another, align quite well with the WSCUC commitments.

Our strategies for addressing these commitments will include such things as increased collaboration across the campus and with our community partners; creating connections across academic fields to prepare students even better for working in a world where many different sources of knowledge need to be applied to the big issues of the day; and creating more opportunities for hands-on learning.

In order to provide our students with the skills they will need into the future, those of us who work on campus need to keep learning and growing and improving how we go about fulfilling our educational mission.

One of those things that WSCUC looks at is how the whole campus engages in these efforts, and the many listening and talk story sessions leading up to the strategic plan will provide ample evidence to our attempts to get everyone involved. From visits to campus units to our “Seeds of Opportunity” strategic planning summit, to our strategic doing projects including our island podcast, Ka Leo o ka Uluau, and our storytelling events, Wailau, we have hopefully given everyone an opportunity both to weigh in on the forthcoming plan and begin to taste its fruits.

I look forward to what we will learn from the team when they come this fall. Our institutional mission—‘A‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka hālau ho‘okahi (One learns from many sources)—includes learning from colleagues from outside our university, who will be able to look at us with fresh eyes and fresh perspectives. We can always do better, and our students and community deserve our best.


Bonnie D. Irwin

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