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Month: December 2017

Happy Holidays from the Interim Chancellor

The time of Makali‘i is upon us…

The Pleiades
Makali‘i star cluster (the Pleiades). The constellation rises in the east this time of year. Image captured by UH Hilo astronomy students B. Bjorn, K. Emerson, A. Jennings, Y. Oikawa, B. Rodriguez, S. Rowan. S. Shores, P. Smith, K. Steckler, and T. Wells, Sept. 15, 2017, during a laboratory field trip on Maunakea.
Holiday greeting in Hawaiian and English.
Message composed by Ākeamakamae Kiyune.
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Message from the Interim Chancellor: Reorganization update

The university is moving forward with the formation of the College of Natural and Health Sciences, effective July 1, 2018.

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

UH Hilo seal, red lettering University of Hawaii and the state motto.As we celebrate the accomplishments of our fall graduates and enter winter break, I would like to take a moment to update you on the reorganization of the College of Arts and Sciences.

As you know, during the fall I held a series of meetings with faculty to hear ideas, concerns, and to answer questions. I found these discussions very valuable and thank so many of you who took the time to meet with me to express your thoughts and feelings on this important issue.

I then met with President David Lassner to discuss what I had learned. He agrees with and supports my recommendation to proceed with a phased reorganization plan. This will begin with the formation of the College of Natural and Health Sciences, effective July 1, 2018. I look forward to sharing more details with you as the process unfolds.

During this period of transition, I hope we can all continue to work together to move the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo forward with a focus on serving our students and community. While there are still some uncertainties on the road ahead, I remain fully committed to working collaboratively with you as interim chancellor.

Thank you for all your hard work and dedication throughout the year. I wish you a safe, relaxing winter break and a joyous holiday season. And I look forward to seeing you next year!

Marcia Sakai

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UH Hilo chancellor search begins

A local, national and international search will be opened with the assistance of a professional firm, and the committee hopes to begin screening applicants and nominees by the end of February 2018.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Search Advisory Committee has been appointed, and the committee will begin meeting immediately. A local, national and international search will be opened with the assistance of a professional firm, and the committee hopes to begin screening applicants and nominees by the end of February 2018.

The committee will conduct confidential video interviews of the most promising candidates, and the committee plans to host on-campus visits by the finalists in late April to ensure that students, faculty, staff and other stakeholders are able to meet the finalists and provide input.

Read more at UH Hilo Stories.

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PHOTOS: Chancellor’s Holiday Celebration

Members of the UH Hilo ‘ohana took some time from the hustle and bustle of the season to enjoy some cookies and fun at Chancellor’s Holiday Celebration.

Chancellor Marcia Sakai hosted the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo holiday celebration on Friday. There was fun with dressing up in “ugly or festive” Christmas wear, a photo booth and cookie contest. A good time was had by all.

Photos by Bob Douglas, click to enlarge.

Marcia Sakai, Farrah-Marie Gomes,, Ken Hon, and Kalei Rapoza in Santa hats.
At holiday celebration (clockwide from bottom right) Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Farrah-Marie Gomes, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ken Hon, and Interim Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Kalei Rapoza.
Lydia Mukai with Marcia Sakai.
Winner of the cookie contest was Lydia Mukai (right), an office assistant in housing. At left is Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai.



About the photographer: Bob Douglas is a local artist, photographer, and sometimes part-time student who volunteers his photography skills to the Office of the Interim Chancellor and UH Hilo Stories.

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Message from the Interim Chancellor to UH Hilo Community: Many wonderful accomplishments this semester

These are just a few of the exciting things all of you are doing to provide positive learning experiences and support to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead.

Aloha to the UH Hilo Community,

Marcia Sakai
Marcia Sakai

I know that there are concerns on our campus that we are working to address but as we complete the last week of fall classes and begin to prepare for the evaluation period of finals, I would like to make note of the many wonderful things that I am learning about our programs and accomplishments of our people.

We are well on our way to initiatives aligned with focus on programs that take advantage of the unique physical and social characteristics of the island, attracting and serving Hawai‘i students who seek opportunities for highly engaging and experiential learning.

New programs

Planning for future workforce needs, the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management launched a new Certificate in Unmanned Aircraft Systems, a first step in the university’s long planned aeronautical science program. The certificate program focuses on training in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Faculty are also working to adapt sensors with agricultural and natural resource applications for use with UAS.

Rose Hart holding UAV,.
Rose Hart. Click to enlarge.

Students are also adapting UAS within their studies and research projects. Rose Hart, a second-year graduate student in our Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science (TCBES) program received an Excellent Award for her poster presentation, “Using small unmanned aerial systems to map shoreline change at Hapuna State Beach Park” at the 2017 Forum Math-for-Industry conference at UH Mānoa. The award includes a fully paid two-week research trip to the Institute of Mathematics for Industry at Kyushu University, Japan.

Data science and data visualization emerged as we welcomed our second EPSCoR-funded data science faculty member (Travis Mandel). ‘Ike Wai grant funds are enabling UH Hilo to build capacity in a new data science program initiative through the hiring of a four-member cross-disciplinary team, including math, computer science, a life science, a social science. Data science presents an opportunity for our students to learn about studying and analyzing large sets of data from seemingly unrelated areas to solve complex problems.

A data visualization course offered by the computer science department will provide an interdisciplinary framework for students to learn cutting-edge data visualization techniques. Projects utilize data from the natural sciences to create interactive and immersive data visualization experiences to promote public awareness of environmental issues facing Hawaiian ecosystems. This capability is supported by CyberCANOE visual display technology, funded through the UH Mānoa Academy for Creative Media. UH Hilo technology sites are located in computer science (department), the library learning resource center, and ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i.

Student accomplishments

Leomanaolamaikalani Peleiholani-Blankenfeld, Tynsl Kailimai, Ciarra-Lynn Parinas, and U‘ilani Dasalla with Colosseum in background.
(Left tp right) Leomanaolamaikalani Peleiholani-Blankenfeld, Tynsl Kailimai, Ciarra-Lynn Parinas, and U‘ilani Dasalla at the Colosseum, Rome.

The College of Business and Economics has been part of a business plan competition to stimulate the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem on Hawai‘i Island, in partnership with Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i Authority (NELHA) and the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce. The Hawai‘i Island Business Plan competition provides $25,000 of seed money for individuals or groups to develop and refine their business plans. This year, senior business administration major Juvette Kahawai‘i submitted a plan to launch a family business that will provide tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll administration for small businesses and was awarded a one year UH Hilo tuition scholarship.

Four English majors presented their research paper at the International Journal of Arts and Sciences conference in Rome, Italy. U‘ilani Dasalla, Tynsl Kailimai, Ciarra-Lynn Parinas, and Leomanaolamaikalani Peleiholani-Blankenfeld attended the conference, which featured over 100 international scholars. The students expanded on their research from their English course, Graphic Novels and Comics, to collaborate on a literary analysis that will be submitted for publication. The students’ travel and conference attendance were made possible by the Howard and Yoneko Droste Endowment of the UH Hilo Department of English. The Drostes served as UH Hilo faculty in art and English.


Faculty discussions to promote transfers to UH Hilo from UH community colleges are bearing fruit with the award of performance based funding from the UH system. The award will support a system-wide convening of faculty members in Administration of Justice programs, linking UH community colleges on all islands with UH Hilo.


The International Astronomical Union announced that the first interstellar object seen passing through our solar system, observed first by the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on Maui was named ‘Oumuamua. The name which means “a messenger from afar arriving first /”a messenger that reaches out from the distant past” was chosen in consultation with Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikolani College of Hawaiian Language Associate Professor Larry Kimura and his niece Ka‘iu Kimura, executive director of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i. ‘Oumuamua reflects the way this object is like a scout or messenger sent from the distant past to reach out to the solar system.

Hilo is now home to the third mural of a statewide campaign to install ten Living Legacy Murals inspired by the mo‘olelo (story) of Kalapana. The project’s goal is to use art as a medium to invigorate Native Hawaiian identity and perpetuate Hawaiian values, language and culture, while celebrating the 30th anniversary of Ka Papahana Kaiapuni, Hawaiian immersion schools in Hawai‘i. The Hilo mural is sponsored by Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikolani College of Hawaiian Language, Kamehameha Schools, and the state Department of Education Office of Hawaiian Education.


Mural with figures.
The Hilo mural depicts Kalapana and his skills. Courtesy photo, click to enlarge

The $31.3 million Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy building is rising up from its building site on Nowelo Street. When it is completed in July 2018, the facility will finally provide a home for the college’s faculty and staff currently located at several sites in Hilo. Dean Carolyn Ma is actively working across the state to develop private major gift support for the college’s programs and maintenance, refurbishment and equipment of the space.

These are just a few of the exciting things all of you are doing to provide positive learning experiences and support to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead. I look forward to sharing more exciting news in the coming year. Wishing you all a safe and wonderful holiday season.

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor

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