We have a wonderful ‘ohana here who cares deeply about students and about bettering the community in which we live. Thanks to each of you for your many contributions to our mission over the last several months.
Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,
When I first arrived at UH Hilo this summer, I came full of hope for the future of our campus, our students, and our community, and I am happy to say that my many meetings with people both on and off campus have only strengthened that hope and made me even more optimistic. We have a wonderful ‘ohana here who cares deeply about students and about bettering the community in which we live. Thanks to each of you for your many contributions to our mission over the last several months.
As we near the end of the year, and our attention begins to turn to commencement and the holidays, I’d like to share with you just a few of my favorite highpoints of this semester.
Construction is finished on the new building for the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy! It took many people working together for many years to bring this beautiful building to fruition. The modern facilities beckon students to come here to study in a unique rural environment with an incredibly supportive community. Seeing the pride in the faces of our pharmacy students at the grand opening was such a joy. I have all confidence they will be top performers in their field, helping make the world a better place.
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education reaccredited our Doctor of Nursing Practice program through 2029, the maximum 10-year term. The program currently has 28 students, and has graduated 39 students since 2015. The DNP is a terminal degree in nursing and provides training to become a family nurse practitioner. There also is a leadership track. The doctoral level education focuses on primary care, cultural diversity, health disparities, health promotion, and disease prevention in rural communities to raise the quality of health for the people of our island and state.
Thirty-one UH Hilo student-athletes received Division II Academic Achievement Awards. The honorees for 2018-2019 are three more than the previous year. The program recognizes the academic accomplishments of Division II student-athletes; our student-athletes’ grade point averages are higher than they have ever been. This is quite an accomplishment! Awardees have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher, attended school a minimum of four semesters, and been an active team member during this past academic year. Congratulations to all!
We started the fall semester with U.S. News and World Report ranking UH Hilo as most ethnically diverse campus among national universities. In the 2020 report of college rankings, UH Hilo received a diversity index of 77 percent. We are proud to serve such a diverse group of students—the assets they bring to UH Hilo enrich our community and help us provide an inclusive, high-quality education for all our students.
Our university ‘ohana returned from summer break to find a newly furnished lanai and lobby at Mookini Library. With an innovative design connected to nature, the library entranceway now immerses patrons in natural elements with comfortable seating made with local woods, tables shaped like rivers, images of ‘ōhi‘a blooms, and the aroma of fresh brewed local coffee. It’s a comfortable and welcoming place to study, meet up, or sit quietly to collect one’s thoughts. I have seen students gathered there from dawn to well into the evening hours.
Hale Pa‘i ‘Ai food pantry is now officially opened and has food available to any UH Hilo student in need of food assistance. Following guidance from the UH System Food Insecurity Committee, our pantry helps those in need, relieving some of the stress of tight budgets and limited resources. We want all our students to be fueled up and ready to learn, not distracted by trying times and nagging hunger. All UH Hilo students in need of food assistance are encouraged to stop by the food pantry during hours of operation!
I teamed up with Hawai‘i Community College Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas to host the first wala‘au, a public conversation, about a collective vision of the future. Dialogue and listening were the main goals at the lunch session; Chancellor Solemsaas and I share a passion for community engagement and shared kuleana between the two institutions. Faculty, staff, and administrators from both campuses shared their insights, concerns, and vision of the future for Hawai‘i Island’s students, particularly transfer students, and about how we can work together to build strong pathways between our campuses for student success. College and university leadership is now working to build on the ideas shared at that session.
UH Hilo also hosted a strategic planning summit. The Seeds of Opportunity Summit gave the campus community and general public a chance to share their mana‘o about the future of the university. The summit capped our strategic pre-planning stage of collecting information for the strategic planning process. Every participant at the summit had a voice, and the conversations, along with those from the recent listening tour with faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members, and business partners, will help move the university forward into the important strategic planning stage.
Mahalo to the university ‘ohana for your hard work in making these and many other accomplishments possible. I wish you all a productive end of the semester and wonderful holiday season. I’ll see you at 2019 Fall Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 21, 9:00 a.m. at the UH Hilo Vulcan Gym.
Bonnie D. Irwin
Header photo: New building for the UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. Photo credit: Raiatea Arcuri.