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Message from the Chancellor

Message from Chancellor Donald Straney to the UH Hilo ‘Ohana 
December 2012

Fall 2012 semester is coming to close and I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you in our campus community for your dedication and commitment to the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

Kenny Simmons

Special recognition and thanks to two people:

Dr. Kenith Simmons has been serving as interim vice chancellor for academic affairs.

We all share a debt of gratitude to Kenny for her careful stewardship of academic affairs. (Our new VCAA Matt Platz arrives later this month.)

Gerald DeMello

Gerald DeMello is retiring as director of University Relations.

For the past 21 years, Gerald has been an indispensable advocate for the university and a major reason for the growth and development UH Hilo has enjoyed during that period.

I know all of you join me in wishing nothing but the very best for Gerald as he embarks on new adventures.

Strategic Plan Update

One of the things I am most proud of this semester is the hard work of the UH Hilo ‘ohana toward our new Strategic Plan. Administrators, faculty, and staff all have been working together diligently over the semester to implement the goals of the plan. I would like to highlight some of the action steps being taken to implement three of the six goals.

Goal 1 is about providing learning experiences and support to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate, and lead in their professional and personal lives.  This goal is being facilitated through the new Office of Applied Learning Experiences, or ALEX, with Dr. Tom DeWitt as director. ALEX has been created to increase real world learning experiences at UH Hilo and maximize student participation. This includes internships, community based projects, service learning, creative activities, research, practica, and capstone experiences. ALEX is hosting its first conference on undergraduate research from multiple disciplines on Feb. 9. Another conference is planned for April dedicated to expanding applied learning experiences across all fields.

Goal 2 of our Strategic Plan is to inspire excellence in teaching, research, and collaboration. Dan Brown, interim vice chancellor for research and economic development, is heading the expansion of research support services. A priority initiative is a new Science Outreach Resource Center or SOURCE to support faculty researchers and outside research partners in research and STEM education efforts. Another priority is to expand the support services to faculty, staff, and student scholarly activities. To that end, the office is undergoing a reorganization to include personnel from RCUH’s Office of Research Administration and Project Development (RAPD) within the UH Hilo office.

Goal 3 is to foster a vibrant and sustainable environment within which to study, work, and live. Dr. Cam Muir’s work with several campus and community groups is leading us to adopt more sustainable practices on campus. UH Hilo has also begun planning for a comprehensive Freshmen Village as early as fall 2014, utilizing the current housing facilities that now constitute the core of the campus. Freshmen Village will be a highly interactive residential first-year experience to help students transition and adapt to UH Hilo academically and socially as freshmen. The village concept will provide ways for students to study and participate in programs and activities together outside the classroom, including the possibility of freshmen research-related projects.

Happy Holidays

This year, rather than a campus-wide holiday gathering, I will be visiting the various offices and units on campus personally to deliver special holiday wishes. I look forward to seeing each of you!

This fall, we have begun discussing two important questions facing UH Hilo: How fast should we grow? How do we help make Hilo a “college town”? When we return for the spring semester, there will be opportunities for broader discussion of these questions. I hope you will contribute your thoughts to the ongoing dialogue about the future of our university.


Don Straney

~First published in Ka Lono Hanakahi

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