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Interim Chancellor’s Final Monthly Column, June 2019: UH Hilo’s role in the community

As we move forward, I encourage all of you to work together for the common good.

By Marcia Sakai.

Marcia Sakai
Marcia Sakai

This is my final column as interim chancellor—the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo will welcome a new chancellor to campus on July 1. Chancellor-Designate Bonnie Irwin is on her way and 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. I’m excited about this upcoming chapter in UH Hilo’s progress.

Like other universities and colleges, UH Hilo serves a unique role for its community in helping all citizens achieve a better quality of life. Through affordable high quality education, UH Hilo graduates gain workforce skills for the evolving economy of the future.

For example, a new certificate in data science began last fall and the university plans to seek approval for a bachelor’s degree in data science in 2020. A new aeronautical sciences degree program was approved by the UH Board of Regents last November with one track in commercial professional pilot training, and another in commercial aerial information technology (which utilizes drones), where there is a high projected workforce need in the state.

And our Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program was recently granted permanent status by the BOR–the program provides training for students to become family nurse practitioners or FNPs, considered primary care providers with global prescriptive authority. The program’s objective is to provide nurses with doctoral-level education focusing on primary care, cultural diversity, health disparities, health promotion and disease prevention in rural communities. A leadership track is offered for those interested in this area of practice. Eleven students graduated last month with their Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

Also graduating with the Class of 2019*—with a total of 640 students petitioning for degrees and/or certificates—were 74 with Doctor of Pharmacy degrees, 16 with a Master of Arts in Teaching, and 70 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (*unofficial numbers until later this summer). These are professionals who will now serve communities well here on our island and throughout the state and region.

In addition, UH Hilo is a catalyst for economic growth through the creation and application of knowledge, as well as the economic impact of the millions of dollars spent by the university and its faculty, staff, students and graduates in the community.

Further, the Board of Regents recent decision to hold tuition flat for the three years 2020-2023 is an additional boost. The tuition freeze works to reduce barriers to access and will provide an incentive for degree completion over the period of level rates. Graduates can acquire the know-how to successfully become part of the island workforce, without having to worry about rising tuition rates.

A 2016 analysis by College of Business and Economics Interim Dean Tam Vu and economics student Scott Ashida found that graduation rates contribute significantly to the production of income in Hawai‘i County. They also found that UH Hilo provides a major economic stimulus for the island because of its employment of people in our community and because of spending by the university, its employees and its students which becomes income for our local places of business. This spending at its ripple effect strengthens the island’s economic base.

It has been a pleasure serving as interim chancellor and I thank each of you for your support of the university. As we move forward, I encourage all of you to work together for the common good. We must continue to work hard for the benefit of UH Hilo students, and we must continue to work together collectively. UH Hilo is a special place, comprised of outstanding, caring people. The value our campus ‘ohana and local community bring to our university is exemplary.

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

Marcia Sakai

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