Skip to content →

Month: May 2019

Announcement to UH ‘Ohana: Prepare now for higher than normal hurricane season

Forecasters predict this season will have a 70 percent chance of being a higher than normal season with the likelihood of five to eight tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific.

Banner with the words: EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS BEGINS WITH YOU. Logo graphic of volcanic eruption.

Announcement to University of Hawai‘i ‘Ohana:

The National Weather Service Honolulu Forecast Office today released its annual forecast for the upcoming hurricane season and now is the time to start preparing for the upcoming months.

Forecasters predict this season will have a 70 percent chance of being a higher than normal season with the likelihood of five to eight tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific. These include tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

Hurricane season in Hawai‘i occurs roughly between June 1 and November 30.

Last year, Hurricane Lane dumped up to 50 inches of rain and caused damage to parts of Hawaii Island and Maui. UH campuses were forced to close.

The Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency great tips and resources

UH Resources

All members of the UH community are urged to sign up for UH Alert to receive emergency text alerts. If you have already signed up, log in to ensure that contact information is up-to-date.

Notifications affecting UH campuses will be posted on the emergency information web page, as well as on social media:

UH Hilo social media accounts:

Pacific Disaster Center’s Disaster Alert

There is also the Pacific Disaster Center’s Disaster Alert desktop version and an app with updated information.

Be safe!

This message was originally sent via email from the UH System Administration Offices to the UH community.


Comments closed

Announcement: New interim dean named for College of Business and Economics

Professor of Management Emmeline de Pillis’s experience working with stakeholders and campus programs will be extremely valuable as she leads the college during this interim period.

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

Emmeline de Pillis
Emmeline de Pillis

Dr. Emmeline de Pillis, professor of management, has agreed to serve as interim dean of the College of Business and Economics (CoBE) effective June 1, 2019. A search for a permanent dean will begin in late fall or early spring.

A graduate of the University of Southern California with a doctor of philosophy in business administration, Dr. de Pillis joined UH Hilo in 1997 and was promoted to the rank of full professor in 2007. She has served as department chair, director of the Office of Applied Learning Experiences (ALEX), chair of the assurance learning committee, and chair of the CoBE faculty senate. She was a member of the University of Hawai‘i System President’s Emerging Leadership Program in 2014.

Dr. de Pillis has developed working relationships with multiple constituencies on campus and in the community and has served on various boards and committees. Her experience working with internal and external stakeholders and with CoBE and campus programs and initiatives will be extremely valuable as she leads the college during this interim period.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. de Pillis into her new role, and thanking Dr. Tam Vu who served as interim dean of CoBE for the past year and congratulating her on her retirement.

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

Comments closed

2019-2020 Chancellor’s Scholarship recipients named

The competitive award, valued in excess of $29,300, covers four years of tuition for selected students graduating from a Hawai‘i high school.

UH Hilo seal, red lettering University of Hawaii and the state motto.Eleven students from Hawai‘i public and private high schools have been awarded the prestigious 2019-2020 Chancellor’s Scholarship at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.


  • Sabina Boo-Riversa, Kea‘au High School
  • Kawailehua Burnz, Kapa‘a High School
  • Nancy Costales, Christian Liberty Academy
  • Taylor Eleola, Hawai‘i Baptist Academy
  • Bree Foster, Kamehameha – Hawai‘i Campus
  • David Freund, Kea‘au High School
  • Joshua Irwin, Waiakea High School
  • Kit Neikirk, Connections Public Charter School
  • Nicole Otsuka, Maui High School
  • Ashley Rynkewicz, Waiakea High School
  • Jaedyn Pavao, Kamehameha – Kapalama Campus


The award, valued in excess of $29,300, covers four years of tuition for students graduating from a Hawai‘i high school who earned either a grade point average of at least 3.5, a combined 1800 SAT (reading, writing, math), or a composite score of 27 on the ACT while demonstrating leadership and/or community service.

Recipients are are required to enroll as full-time students and earn a minimum of 24 credits each academic year. They must also maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and participate in leadership activities and/or community service with other chancellor’s scholars.

Media release

Comments closed

From the Interim Chancellor: Farewell Message to UH Hilo ‘Ohana

Effective July 1, 2019, I will return to the College of Business and Economics as a faculty member. I look forward to joining colleagues at the college where I began my tenure at UH Hilo.

Dear UH Hilo ‘Ohana:

Marcia Sakai
Marcia Sakai

As we close the end of another academic year and begin enjoying the summer months ahead, I want to thank all of you for doing your part in contributing to another successful year for our students and our university ‘ohana.

The past two years as your interim chancellor provided me with much professional and personal growth. As with everything else, there were challenges and setbacks, but they were all accompanied with opportunities and experiences from which to learn and grow, and for this I am grateful.

Effective July 1, 2019, I will return to the College of Business and Economics as a faculty member. I look forward to joining colleagues at the college where I began my tenure at UH Hilo.

I will also be providing management oversight for the next decade strategic direction setting process for the University of Hawai‘i System. This project will examine demographic, social, cultural, and political trends in the nation and in Hawai‘i and will focus on identifying how the university can better meet the needs of people of the state of Hawai‘i.

It has been a pleasure serving as your interim chancellor. As we move forward, I want to encourage all of you to work together for the common good. We must continue to work hard for the benefit of our students, and we must continue to work together collectively. The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is a special place, comprised of outstanding, caring people. The value you bring to our university is exemplary.

I wish you my very best. Have a wonderful and productive summer.

Marcia Sakai

Comments closed

End-of-Year Message to UH Hilo ‘Ohana from Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

Marcia Sakai
Marcia Sakai

As we start finals week and look forward to commencement on Saturday, I’d like to share with you a few highlights of the past semester.


Graduate and undergraduate women students planned and organized the inaugural Women in STEM Conference held in February. The all-day event brought together women leaders, scientists, students, and members of the campus community to discuss the current state of affairs for women in the STEM fields. Topics covered social history of women in STEM, the importance of mentorship, the issues of sexual harassment, mental health, the wage gap, work-family-life balance, retaining women STEM students, and creating a supportive climate for underrepresented minorities in STEM.

The concept of a campus food pantry for students in need was developed by business student Jordan Kamimura. Hale Pa‘i ‘Ai, a one-year pilot project that launched a soft opening in April, is officially opening this fall to provide services to students in need of reliable access to food. The Administrative Affairs project is to help students who may experience limited access to food at different times of the year due to lack of money and other resources. Jordan’s business concept includes pop-up concessions on campus to provide funding support.

Marcia Sakai, Jordan Kamimura, and Kalei Rapoza standing in front of the Teapresso concession.
Left to right, Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai, business student Jordan Kamimura, and Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Kalei Rapoza at the rollout event of the Teapresso Bar concession March 13, UH Hilo. The concession will support the new food pantry program on campus; Kamimura created the business plan for the pop-up and food pantry. Photo by Raiatea Arcuri, click to enlarge.

Our Marine Option Program students once again made a big splash at the annual statewide MOP Symposium. Bryant Grady’s project on reef ecology won Best Research Presentation, which has been won by UH Hilo Marine Option Program students for 26 of the past 31 years. Alexa Runyan won the Pacon Award for the best use of technology.

Three UH Hilo students presented their research projects at the annual meeting of the worldwide Society for Applied Anthropology held in Oregon where 2,000 academics and consultants attended the event. UH Hilo undergraduate Alexis Cabrera, with the mentorship of anthropology professor Lynn Morrison, won 3rd prize out of 90 student submissions (mostly master’s and doctoral projects) for her poster presentation.

Senior Rebekah Loving, from Hāmākua and double majoring in computer science and mathematics, is researching RNA sequencing and her work has gained the attention of a “who’s who” of top research universities across the country. Rebekah has received acceptance letters with offers of full funding to doctoral programs in biostatistics, computational biology, and computer science from Harvard, Columbia University, University of California Berkeley, and the California Institute of Technology.


The extraordinary work of our faculty was noticed throughout the world.

The Jan. 23 airing of PBS’s NOVA, about the 2018 Kīlauea eruption, prominently featured UH Hilo scientists Cheryl Gansecki and Ryan Perroy and their work on chemistry analysis and aerial monitoring of the flow respectively. Cheryl, a geologist, provided real-time chemistry analysis of lava samples that helped determine how the lava would behave and how fast it would move, crucial information for Civil Defense and other responders. A group of undergraduate and graduate students led by Ryan, a geographer, piloted drones day and night capturing thermo and regular imagery of the lava flows, gathering critical information for the government agencies overseeing the eruption response.

UH Hilo biologist Rebecca Ostertag and geologist Jené Michaud were part of a team awarded an international medal for their paper questioning a fundamental assumption in the field of restoration ecology—the researchers suggest that nonnative, noninvasive plant species can be an important part of Hawaiian forest restoration. The Bradshaw Medal is given by the Society for Ecological Restoration in recognition of a scientific paper published in the Society’s major journal, Restoration Ecology.

Making international news was the story about Maunakea astronomers collaborating with our very own Larry Kimura, renowned Hawaiian language professor and cultural practitioner, for the Hawaiian naming of the black hole recently discovered. Pōwehi, meaning embellished dark source of unending creation, is a name sourced from the Kumulipo, the primordial chant describing the creation of the Hawaiian universe. The name awaits official confirmation, but it has already made the world take notice of the deeply meaningful Native Hawaiian connection to the discovery.


Early in the semester, we hosted a two-day Islands of Opportunity Alliance conference. UH Hilo administers the alliance, a collaborative group of 10 partner institutions in American Sāmoa, Guam, Hawai‘i, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The partners all share the common goal of increasing underrepresented professionals in STEM fields and together we are working toward more diversity in the quest for and understanding of scientific knowledge.

Roundtable group seated in discussion.
The Islands of Opportunity conference was attended by approximately 30 participants from across the Pacific region, including campus coordinators and administrators from each of the 11 alliance institutions, as well as the governing board, two external advisory boards, and an external NSF evaluator from Washington D.C. Jan. 11, 2019, UH Hilo campus. Photo by Raiatea Arcuri, click to enlarge.

A 40-session listening tour is underway in preparation for UH Hilo’s new strategic plan. The inclusive planning process is creating a strong foundation for a living strategic plan for our campus. Among the members of the UH Hilo ‘ohana, listeners of the tour outcomes will include our new UH Hilo chancellor and a Strategic Planning Committee that will be formed once the permanent chancellor is in place.

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie Irwin

This leads me to the long-awaited news we received of the unanimous approval from the UH Board of Regents in naming our new chancellor Bonnie Irwin. Chancellor-Designate Irwin is looking forward to working with students, faculty, staff, alumni, island leaders and community members to build on the decades of great work to move UH Hilo and the community forward. We will be welcoming her to our university ‘ohana on July 1.


Thank you to everyone for all your hard work and dedication toward making UH Hilo a remarkable place of knowledge and learning. May you all have a successful end of the academic year. I send my congratulations to our spring graduates—you do us proud and I look forward to seeing you make a difference in the world. I wish you all a safe and wonderful summer.


Marcia Sakai

Comments closed