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Chancellor’s Message: Celebrating Hawai‘i Community College’s 75th Anniversary

Hawai‘i CC plays a pivotal role in providing access to higher education for the people of our island and state.

By Don Straney.

HawCCDuring this academic year, Hawai‘i Community College is celebrating its 75th Anniversary. The college’s long history is intertwined with the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, and as we celebrate this milestone, I consider the community college one of UH Hilo’s greatest partners.

Hawai‘i CC plays a pivotal role in providing access to higher education for the people of our island and state. The community college has some of the most innovative programs in the UH System, in tune with the dreams of its students and the needs of the community.

The culinary program is one of the most interesting and challenging programs at Hawai‘i CC. The use of locally produced food is the norm, and culinary students work closely with local farmers, ranchers, fruit growers and fishermen to develop recipes and menus that are homemade in every sense.

The Model Home project, established in 1965, is the only college program in the state where students build a real home for a real family as part of their coursework. Students from diverse programs—future architects, diesel mechanics, carpenters, electricians, and agriculturalists—have built over 45 houses in the community through this program.

Up until this fall semester, West Hawaiʻi had been the only major population center in the state without a permanent facility for higher education. With the launch of the Palamanui campus in August, Hawai‘i CC has answered the community’s call for a permanent home for higher education in West Hawaiʻi.

Hawai‘i CC also is an important partner of UH Hilo. Each of our campuses has a unique role to play within the UH System, but by working together, we are increasing educational opportunities for the residents of our island and state.

Hawai‘i CC facilitates seamless community college transfers to UH Hilo—for example, by giving students “road maps” to use when they begin their college education at Hawai‘i CC so they will have a plan on how to transfer and achieve baccalaureate degrees at UH Hilo.

Programs are in place for students who wish to study indigenous Hawaiian culture and language at the community college, earn an associate of arts degree, then transfer to UH Hilo. Hawai‘i CC and UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language are working together closely to support students taking classes on both campuses to earn their degrees.

And in times of community crisis, such as Topical Storm Iselle and the Puna lava flow last year, our campuses work together to give assistance as best we can to our students, faculty and staff who are affected. No other campuses in the country have to deal with the range of natural challenges that we have here on our island, and I’m proud of our collaborative work in supporting the UH community.

Simply put, UH Hilo is a more effective four-year campus because of Hawai‘i CC. We are proud to call Hawai‘i Community College our partner in serving the people of Hawai‘i.


Don Straney

Published in Remarks, Messages, & Writings