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Chancellor Straney speaks at United Filipino Council of Hawaii convention

Chancellor Straney speaks at the annual convention of the United Filipino Council of Hawaii. Photo by Milli Asuncion.

Donald Straney, chancellor at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, delivered a speech at the annual convention of the United Filipino Council of Hawaii on July 28. This past February, the chancellor met with members of the group to discuss Filipino community concerns specifically related to the establishment of a Filipino Certificate Program at UH Hilo. At the meeting, the chancellor was invited to attend the annual convention of the United Filipino Council, held in Hilo July 27-28.

The United Filipino Council of Hawaii is the umbrella group for many Filipino organizations throughout the state; about 100 members were in attendance at the convention, which included panel discussions about current and important issues in the Filipino community.

Chancellor Straney was invited to discuss higher education as it relates to the Filipino community. Excerpted highlights from Chancellor Straney’s speech:

UH Hilo’s vision is to challenge students to achieve their best, engage in applied learning experiences, and connect with Hawai‘i and the world. We are an applied university with undergraduate degrees, and master and PhD programs in selected areas. We’re at 4,100 students growing on the order of 2-5% a year. 70% are state residents; 22% Native Hawaiian; 6.2% Filipino; and 8% international. 23% freshman from O‘ahu, 15% live on campus. 34% graduate in 6 years.

Numbers are a challenge. The presence of so many people of mixed heritage makes counting difficult. The federal reporting system has long assumed that people are one thing or another. At best, they are “mixed.” Hawai‘i is not well characterized by this approach to counting. In Hilo: Since Fall 2011, the Institutional Research Office can now pull numbers with more than one ethnic group (unreported results). IRO report for Fall 2011 shows 257 Filipino students or 6.2% of all students. But if you use the “unreported results,” it was actually 811 Filipino students or 19.6%.

–In 25 years, Filipinos have moved to be the second most numerous ethnic group in the state. The 1988 Pamantasan Report, a report done by the UH Task Force on Filipinos, found five areas in need of improvement to address the long-standing need of the Filipino community to have greater and more equitable access to higher education in the state. I’ll go through each area, from a UH Hilo perspective.

1) Recruitment and Retention of Students in Higher Education

We have a UH Hilo Filipino Advisory Committee.

Internships that give students applied learning experience, preparing them well for employment or higher degrees.

Financial aid totals $44.4 million. 65% of our students receive financial aid; 80% of total freshmen. Our students have a 5.5% default rate, which is below the national average.
Financial Aid of special interest to Filipinos includes the Que Andrada Scholarship. Two scholarship endowments were established, at UH Hilo and UH West O‘ahu. The scholarship at UH Hilo supports a full time undergraduate who can demonstrate participation in activities related to Filipino culture, including volunteering for organizations serving the Filipino community or enrolling in programs or educational offerings related to Filipino culture.

UH Hilo received Gear Up funds for the School of Nursing sponsored Pulama I Ke Ola Healthcare Conference. This past year we awarded about 60 scholarships to deserving students, many of whom were Filipino and other underrepresented minorities. We will do this again next spring.

The Minority Access and Achievement Program has been the primary student support program for Filipino students at UH Hilo. MAAP Peer Assistant Linkages and Support program provides peer mentoring for first year students as well as transfers of the 60-90 students who participate each year, at least 50% are Filipino.

MAAP has received grants funds for a Filipino Transfer Project of Hawai‘i Community College to transfer to UH Hilo. The funds have been used to support transfer peer mentors, transfer activities and workshops and a transfer brochure.

The Dorrance Scholarship is an innovative, four-year award designed to benefit local students who are the first in their family to attend college. Each year, up to 10 eligible students are awarded need-based scholarships of $8,000 per year to attend UH Hilo. Awards are renewable for a total of eight semesters of funding. The Dorrance Scholarship addresses a critical need at UH Hilo, where some 70% of its 4,100 students are the first in their family to attend college.

Upward Bound at UH Hilo currently serves 178 students annually of which, 62% are Filipino. The current target schools are Hilo High, Waiakea, Keaʻau, Pāhoa, Kaʻū, Honokaʻa and Kohala. In AY 2012-2013, Honokaʻa and Kohala will be dropped and Kealakehe and Konawaena will be added.

2) Inclusion of Philippine or Filipino-Related Courses into the Curriculum

6% of UH Hilo faculty are Filipino.

We have established the Filipino Certificate Program to provide learning opportunities for students interested in understanding the multifaceted nature of the Philippines and Filipinos, including language, culture, history, literature, politics, economics and natural resources.

We’ve recently hired a permanent Filipino Studies faculty, Dr. Rodney Jubilado, who will be starting this Fall. Dr Jubilado’s prior position was at the Department of Asian and European Languages, Faculty of Languages & Linguistics Building, University of Malaya. He holds a master of arts in linguistics from the University of Philippines, and doctor of philosophy in theoretical linguistics from the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

3) Filipinos in the State Department of Education

A number of Filipino students have graduated from our Teacher Education Program.

4) Employment of Filipinos in the Professions

Majors: Most Filipinos are in Biology, Prenursing, Nursing, Pharmacy, or Business programs. Nursing is one area where Filipino enrollment and graduation is high; Pharmacy is becoming another area.

At UH Hilo employee data show 23 employees claim Filipino, which is 4.2% of our 551 employees as compared to 14.1% in Hawai‘i overall. UH Hilo Filipino employees by category: 65% civil service (15); 21.7% administrative, professional and technical (5); 14.3% faculty (3).

5) Relations between Philippine and U.S. Institutions of Higher Education

We have had no exchange agreements with colleges or universities in the Philippines. Bruce Matthews, agriculture, and Kevin Hopkins, aquaculture, have done work in the Philippines. Now that we have a Filipino Studies certificate program it would make sense to have an exchange agreement and/or study abroad programs.

Potential exchange partners in the Philippines, in addition to University of the Philippines, are: Xavier University and De La Salle University.

I recently attended a Presidential Forum hosted by the University of Guam. The panel included the vice chancellor from the University of the Philippines (Dr. Alfredo Pascual is the president of the University of the Philippines). Also represented were Guam Community College, University of Virgin Islands, Mapua Institute of Technology, and Fiji National University.

In conclusion, I’d like to emphasize that universities do not work alone. Families help recruit students and help tutor students, for example math tutoring. Communities help recruit faculty, for example, physicians in Hilo. We all help each other create careers.

Our goal is to serve the needs of the state and its people. At UH Hilo in particular, we are emphasizing how we have an impact on the community. Together, we are working to create a vibrant future for the state.

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