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Chancellor’s Weekly Messages on Countdown to Fall 2020 Opening

August 24, 2020 Update

Countdown to Fall 2020: 0 days remaining until fall semester begins

Aloha Kākou,

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

Welcome to the fall semester! This certainly is not the launch many of us expected a few months ago when we first started planning for some in-person instruction. We knew there was always a possibility that we would have to return to predominantly online, and as the cases started to rise both here and especially on O‘ahu, reducing hosting large groups of students, even in physically distanced layouts in classrooms, has become the wise course of action. We still must rely on one another to keep up the good work in masking, sanitizing, and handwashing to protect ourselves and our colleagues.

Here are the latest updates:

Testing and Tracing (Carolyn Ma, convener)

The LumiSight UH app went live on Tuesday, August 18. Please remember to sign in prior to coming to campus.

On-campus testing occurred on August 21 with the help of Premier Medical Group and our own UH Hilo nursing and Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy students. Mahalo for their help. The next testing on campus is currently scheduled for September 1.

The UH Hilo COVID-19 coordinator hiring is in process.

The Testing and Tracing Committee will move to a monthly meeting or on an “as needed” basis depending upon the pandemic situation.

Academic and Student Support (Farrah-Marie Gomes, convener)

With last week’s announcement of going completely online for the semester with the exception of a number of face-to-face classes, it will be critical for academic and student support services to be available and accessible in both physical and virtual formats.

To start off the semester, all service offices will be open Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30.p.m. This schedule will be evaluated after the first few weeks of classes. Adjustments may be made based on foot traffic and services needed.

A virtual access room has been created in the Student Services Center, room 309. Students who may need a quiet space or a device to remotely connect with another service office may go to the third floor of the Student Services Center to request access to this room. Appointments can be made in advance by calling 932-7445 or emailing

Online and Hybrid Learning (Joseph Sanchez, convener)

This working group continues to purchase various software and equipment for distance learning support. Also note that library hours have been changed for the first two weeks.


In last Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting an aggressive timeline was provided for structural rebalancing of the University of Hawai‘i System. We anticipate presenting a comprehensive restructuring plan to the regents at its December meeting, with implementation of plans to begin in January 2021. Through the fall, we will be engaging in discussions within our campus community to help make decisions on what our approach will be. The Long Range Budget Planning Committee is meeting regularly and will provide guidance to our administration for decision making.

Countdown concludes

This is the final “Countdown to Fall” Monday message. I appreciate all the teams that have worked hard through the summer to get us ready, and the flexibility of all employees in preparing for all the changes.

Tomorrow our “Ha‘ilono o UH Hilo, News of UH Hilo” email blast resumes, and please continue to look there for routine updates on any of the above topics and more. Ha‘ilono o UH Hilo is sent via email each Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. to faculty and staff during the academic year.

As always, we will also use Announce and the listservs to send special announcements via email, and the monthly Brown Bags will continue throughout the term. Our next Brown Bag is scheduled for noon on Wednesday: Zoom link:; Meeting ID: 973 1359 2868; Passcode: 865948.

Have a good week and keep up the excellent work. I am endlessly grateful for all the support each of you gives to our students and our university.

Mahalo nui, and take care,

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

UH Hilo COVID-19 Guidelines (Interim)
UH Hilo’s COVID-19 information webpage

August 17, 2020 Update

Countdown to Fall 2020: 8 days remaining until fall semester begins

Aloha Kākou,

Keep your eyes on your emails this week for multiple messages from the UH System and campus. We expect the health check-in app, LumiSight UH, to launch this week. Tomorrow, COVID-19 training videos will be released. It is important that we all view these and learn as much as we can about keeping our community safe.

Welcome to our new Dean of Students!

Christopher Holland has been recommended for approval by President David Lassner as UH Hilo’s associate vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students effective September 8, 2020 following public posting on the August 20 UH Board of Regents meeting agenda.

Associate Vice Chancellor-Designate Holland received his doctor of education in higher education administration from the University of Alabama in 2008. Most recently, he served as assistant dean and chief housing officer at George Mason University where he oversaw 40 residential facilities across four campus locations with over 6,200 residential beds in a housing program operated by over 150 professional staff and over 200 student staff. From 2014-2018, he served as the vice president of student services at Florida State College at Jacksonville where he oversaw 250 professional staff in areas of recruitment, admissions, financial aid, registrar, advising, career development, diversity and social initiatives, and military and veteran services at five campuses, two centers, and three military bases.

Designate Holland has also served as a dean of students at three higher education institutions: College of St. Joseph in 2008, Brevard College from 2008-2012, and Purchase College from 2013-2014. The diversity of those institutions where he served in this capacity have provided him with various perspectives about private liberal arts operations and working on small campuses. Coupled with more recent positions working at public institutions with larger numbers of students, and experiences in teaching courses and presenting on topics relevant to student affairs, he possesses an excellent mix of experiences to fit UH Hilo’s unique characteristics of diversity, size and being a residential campus with opportunity for growth.

Mahalo to the search committee who spent many hours reading files and interviewing candidates, as well as all of the campus constituents who participated in the process. The investment of your time and attention speaks well of your care for UH Hilo and our future. Please join me and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Farrah-Marie Gomes in welcoming Christopher Holland to our UH Hilo ʻohana next month.

Quarantine updates

We have students from out-of-state who will be completing their quarantine and entering our housing on campus this week. Quarantine for inter-island students is being finalized, and we will help as many as we can. As I stated last week, we are asking those students who can delay their arrival to do so as we continue to monitor the situation of COVID across the state and as we await further updates about quarantine orders. Vice Chancellor Gomes and I will be speaking to students and families via Zoom on Wednesday to share what we know at that time. In the meantime, for those of us here on campus, it is imperative that we continue to practice the safe behaviors of distancing, masking, and hand washing.

Because of the interisland quarantine, we are also asking everyone in our ‘ohana to report any personal travel. You will find the link to the form here and in the email that was sent from the Office of the Chancellor this morning.

Testing and Tracing (Carolyn Ma, convener)

Testing: The first testing will be held on Friday, August 21 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. in Vulcan Gym. Testing will be for students from 9 a.m.-noon, and open to the general public from noon-2 p.m. Other test dates will be September 1, September 18, and October 1.

The CARES-funded UH Hilo COVID-19 coordinator’s paperwork for hiring is near completion.

Physical Distancing (Kalei Rapoza, convener)

The Campus Center Dining Room resumes food service operations today. Deja Brew will reopen on Wednesday, August 19. Please visit the Sodexo website for campus food service hours of operation during Orientation Week, and normal hours of operation beginning Monday, August 24.

Best practices are in place at all Sodexo food service locations, which includes cleaning, sanitizing and physical distancing requirements to provide a safe environment for everyone. Campus Center Dining Room and Deja Brew are offering take-out orders only at this time.

Thai Smile, Ānuenue’s Kitchen, and Teapresso will resume food service operations beginning Tuesday, September 8.

Online and Hybrid Learning (Joseph Sanchez, convener)

Stipends for summer workshops are being processed, distance learning training for faculty continues, and software/equipment for DL support are being purchased.


On Thursday, August 20, UH Vice President for Budget and Finance Kalbert Young, CFO, will be presenting to the Board of Regents the Fiscal and Financial Parameters for Fiscal Year 2020-2021. The university is building expenditure plans based on an anticipated 16% reduction in all general funds and a tuition revenue decrease of at a minimum 5%. In comparison with FY 2020 actuals and after reducing expenditures, there is an overall UH Hilo campus shortfall of $7.1 million for which we plan on accessing the tuition reserve for FY 2021. The Long Range Budget Planning Committee is meeting regularly and will provide guidance to our administration for decision making.

Strategic Plan, Strategic Doing

Both the Relationships Committee and the Importance of Place Committees have meetings set before the end of August. At these meetings, the teams will begin narrowing focus. Notes from the committee meetings are available on the Strategic Doing webpage. Scroll down and click on Read more about this committee’s work for both the Relationships and Importance of Place committees.

Fall Welcome Event

I also hope you join me in welcoming our newcomers to our UH Hilo ‘ohana at our Fall Welcome this Wednesday, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m., via Zoom. I will also deliver some brief remarks at the event. The Zoom link is:; Meeting ID: 972 5757 9924; Passcode: 450428.

Thank you for maintaining your careful behavior so that we can continue to fulfill our mission of educating students. I am grateful for the efforts of each and every one of you to help keep our campus safe and to welcome our students back, whether they are here in person or online.

Mahalo nui, and take care,

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

UH Hilo COVID-19 Guidelines (Interim)
UH Hilo’s COVID-19 information webpage

August 10, 2020 Update

Countdown to Fall 2020: 15 days remaining until fall semester begins

Aloha Kākou,

In addition to campus updates, today’s message includes a few personnel announcements.

Dean for the College of Natural and Health Sciences named

James Mike has been recommended for approval by President David Lassner as UH Hilo’s dean for the College of Natural and Health Sciences effective December 14, 2020, following public posting on the August 20 UH Board of Regents meeting agenda. I have asked Jim Beets to continue to serve in an interim capacity until Dean-Designate Mike joins us in December.

Dean-Designate Mike received his doctor of philosophy in analytical chemistry with a minor in biochemistry from the University of Cincinnati in 1986. He began his instructional career at Youngstown State University in 1988, achieved the ranks of assistant professor (five years), associate professor (six years), and professor (eight years) of chemistry. His administrative career began in September 1999 when he was appointed as assistant to the dean/faculty associate to the dean and subsequently in 2001 as associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences at Youngstown State University. In July 2006, he  was appointed dean for the College of Arts and Sciences at Shippensburg University and served in this position for 12 years while also serving in additional roles to sustain leadership and vision during times of institutional transition.

For two years, from January 2017 through December 2019, Dean-Designate Mike also served as the acting dean of graduate studies where he provided administrative leadership and academic oversight, worked collaboratively with the admissions team, the Graduate Council, and the college deans. In January 2019, Dean-Designate Mike was appointed as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs for six months. He then returned to serve as the dean for the College of Arts and Sciences and continues to serve in this position.

Mahalo to the search committee who spent many hours reading files and interviewing candidates, as well as all of the campus constituents that participated in the process. The investment of your time and attention speaks well of your care for UH Hilo and our future. Please join me in welcoming James Mike to our UH Hilo ‘ohana in late fall.

Personnel Changes in Office of Equal Opportunity

Jennifer Stotter has accepted, on an interim basis, the position of interim director of the UH System Office of EEO/AA, which includes the duties of deputy coordinator of Title IX for employees. This EEO/AA office promotes commitment to diversity for employees of the Mānoa campus and UH System offices.

During this interim period, please contact the following for EEO/AA assistance at UH Hilo:

  • To report employment discrimination or request a disability accommodation: Shaunda Makaimoku, interim director, EEO/AA and ADA coordinator
  • To report sexual misconduct or gender based violence/discrimination, request education/training regarding UH policies/procedures/response: Jenna Waipa, interim Title IX coordinator
  • To request confidential victim advocacy or request sexual misconduct/violence prevention education: Kekai Lindsey, confidential advocate and prevention educator
  • To request EEO briefings, office information, schedule an appointment, make/receive referrals: Ashley Magallanes, administrative officer

UH Hilo COVID-19 Guidelines (Interim)

The UH Hilo COVID-19 Guidelines (Interim) are posted. Please realize given the fluidity of our state’s situation, that the guidelines will continue to be updated.

Testing and Tracing (Carolyn Ma, convener)

Screening: UH’s NOVID Campus symptom screening app will be released soon. You will receive a notice to register for the app if you have a UH ID. Anyone planning on coming to campus should plan on using the app regularly before they arrive. There will also be a web interface available.

Tracing: We are in the process of hiring the CARES-funded UH Hilo COVID-19 coordinator.

Testing: Testing on campus will occur this month. Details to follow. Tentative dates have been set up for September and will depend upon the current situation statewide and Hawai‘i county.

Physical Distancing (Kalei Rapoza, convener)

Signs, cleaning products, and hand sanitizers have arrived on campus, and you will be seeing more signage and sanitizing stations campuswide. In addition, plexiglass barriers are being installed at high contact service areas.

Online and Hybrid Learning (Joseph Sanchez, convener)

Mahalo to those faculty who participated in the training opportunities provided this summer. We are processing the stipends, and you should be seeing them soon. Our online learning support team will continue to inform you of other opportunities as they arise.


In his presentation to the Board of Regents Budget and Finance Committee last week, Vice President Young characterized the current financial situation as the worst Hawai‘i has faced since statehood. We believe the effects of this state revenue loss will last until 2022/23 and beyond. In addition, our opening enrollment will be down this year as parents seek to keep students closer to home and as many families are suffering financially. UH Hilo has tough decisions ahead, and the Long Range Budget Planning Committee will be meeting regularly throughout the fall semester to help UH Hilo administration make some of those decisions.

As I mentioned in my brief message Thursday evening, the upsurge in cases of coronavirus on O‘ahu has changed many of our plans for fall.


Students and families are re-evaluating their plans for travel. UH President David Lassner’s message this morning has recommended that we put online what we can, and encourage those students who can start the semester online to do so.

We already have students quarantining on the island, however, and more in route, and we will need to provide support for those students. I ask for your patience as we continue to assess the situation and make the best decisions we can for the health and safety of our community as well as for the support of our mission to provide a meaningful educational experience for our students.

I know many of you are facing your own challenges; let us look out for one another during this time. Stay safe and stay healthy.

E mālama pono,

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

UH Hilo COVID-19 Guidelines (Interim)
UH Hilo’s COVID-19 information webpage

August 3, 2020 Update

Countdown to Fall 2020: 22 days remaining until fall semester begins

Aloha Kākou,

I hope everyone’s preparations for fall are proceeding well, and that everyone is staying safe and healthy.

We plan to post our reopening guidelines on Friday, and you will see some sections up already, with others to be posted soon. I recommend both the campus and UH System guidelines to you for reading. They outline institutional responsibility but also personal responsibility during this time. The basic guidelines remain the same: wash your hands, wear a mask, avoid touching your face, and keep a 6-foot physical distance between you and others. We are seeing across the country that when these basics are ignored, the virus spreads.

Here are the following updates:

Testing and Tracing (Carolyn Ma, convener)

Screening: The UH System IT department continues to beta test and de-bug the app, NOVID Campus. Students and employees will be required to submit their information prior to coming to campus. Your patience is appreciated as the app is being finalized. NOVID Campus FAQs are forthcoming.

Testing: Proposed testing on campus testing days will range from weekly to monthly and will depend upon the current situation of positive cases in the State and the availability of testing resources.

The UH Hilo/Hawai‘i Community College COVID-19 Information Page will list the most updated sites available for testing in East Hawai‘i. The list is provided and also accessible on the County of Hawai‘i and Civil Defense websites.

The CARES Act-funded UH Hilo/HawCC COVID-19 campus coordinator position details are finalized.

Final recommendations for UH Hilo Guidelines have been submitted to Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Kalei Rapoza and will be made available on August 10. Guidelines and information will be updated on a regular basis depending upon information provided by the County of Hawai’i Health Office, the State Department of Health, UH Systems, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Academic and Student Support (Farrah-Marie Gomes, convener)                                        

While additional testing platforms have not yet been secured, a professional development opportunity on reducing cheating in the classroom was identified for faculty to participate in. The distance learning group will be sharing this information with those who are interested.

Apple TVs have been added to two rooms in the Student Services Center to provide alternative spaces for staff to meet with students with safe physical distance between them. Testing of this technology is underway. A process for signing up to use the rooms is in progress and will be shared shortly. Dual monitor set-ups have been installed at three work stations on the first floor of the Student Services Center. Similar to the Apple TV set-up, this arrangement will allow staff to meet with students with safe physical distance between them. Additional work stations will be customized upon request and as equipment is made available.

Physical Distancing (Kalei Rapoza, convener)

This working group continues to work with units on requests for plexiglass, personal protective equipment (PPE) and additional cleaning supplies. Orders have been submitted and are pending delivery. Mahalo for your patience as we await delivery on these supplies.


The Long Range Budget and Planning Committee held its first meeting last Friday. The meeting was dedicated to an overview of the current budget situation. Subsequent meetings will be focused on ideas for cost cutting and revenue development.

Strategic Doing

The Strategic Doing Committees continue to reach into their broad networks and are beginning to envision ideal outcomes and plan how we will work toward those outcomes. Notes from the most recent committee meetings are now available on the Strategic Doing webpage. Please take a look at the notes for Relationships and Importance of Place Doing Committees (scroll down and click on Read more about this committee’s work for both).

Office of Academic Affairs

Our new Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Kris Roney arrived on island Saturday and is quarantining at home. She will begin on August 17. Special thanks to Ken Hon for his service to UH Hilo for so many years and for finishing up numerous activities during his last week in the office. I will be filling in this week and next in Academic Affairs.

This is a time of lots of change and uncertainty, and I appreciate all your efforts to step up and support our students in your various roles.

Mahalo and take care.

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

UH Hilo’s COVID-19 information webpage

July 27, 2020 Update

Countdown to Fall 2020: 29 days remaining until fall semester begins

Aloha Kākou,

I hope everyone continues to be well, and feeling relieved and thankful that Hurricane Douglas spared Hawai‘i and didn’t do any damage.

We have fewer updates this week, but the work continues. A lot of our efforts have been directed toward arranging for quarantining any students incoming from out of state and addressing the myriad of questions from their families. Work on course offerings also continues, as faculty choose the modality in which they want to offer their courses and we concentrate our resources on the high demand offerings. Work also continues on the budget as we try to stretch our limited resources ever thinner.

Many of you have been wondering about our athletic events. The Pacific West Conference Executive Board voted unanimously last week to postpone intercollegiate competition in PacWest fall sports until after January 1, 2021, due to challenges surrounding COVID-10. This decision affects our men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.

I also share the recording of our Brown Bag with University Leadership held last Tuesday for students and parents. It was a great session with the majority of questions relating to quarantine.

Testing and Tracing (Carolyn Ma, convener)

Screening: The COVID-19 Screening App is in its second round of testing. Specific functionality requests for UH Hilo/Hawai‘i Community College include real-time notification via email of a “red” or positive symptom submission. Requests for specific daily reports have been submitted. Estimated “Go Live” is Aug. 17 but may be earlier.

Testing: Per Hawai‘i County, all non-resident students will quarantine for 14 days prior to returning for instruction. The committee will continue to arrange scheduled testing on campus for students, faculty and staff and as a community service to our East Hawai‘i citizens. Discussion continues with State Department of Health (DoH)and on a national level of surveillance testing for campus populations as the semester progresses.

Contact Tracing: The UH Hilo COVID-19 coordinator’s position is being finalized. This person will serve as the point of contact for DoH, Hawai‘i County Health Office, UH Hilo/HawCC administration, students and employees with responsibilities to monitor the screening app information, contact trace on behalf of DoH, provide education for UH Hilo/HawCC, coordinate with campus housing and facilities for cleaning and quarantine. The position is supported by the CARES funding.

Strategic Doing:

In June, Doing Committee members were tasked to connect with their networks to bring more voices to our efforts. At committee meetings last week, members reported having reached out to hundreds of people in their networks—educators, students in our local school district, current UH Hilo students, recent UH Hilo graduates, community members from service organizations, booster club members, nonprofit and foundation partners who work in our community, business people in many industries, former faculty and staff, and more.

The committees will now begin envisioning ideal outcomes and begin planning how we will work toward those outcomes. Notes from last week’s meetings will be available on the Strategic Doing webpage after committee members have had time for review. Please check for meeting notes for both Relationships and Importance of Place Doing Committees (scroll down and click on Read more about this committee’s work for each doing committee).

Next Brown Bag

As a reminder, our next Brown Bag is this Wednesday, July 29, from noon – 1:30 p.m. via Zoom. We extended this session to 90 minutes to accommodate your questions and concerns. I hope to see many of you for our live Q&A. Connection information is:; Meeting ID: 970 1174 8887; Passcode: 703560.

Take care, and have a great week!

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

UH Hilo’s COVID-19 information webpage

July 20, 2020 Update

Countdown to Fall 2020: 36 days remaining until fall semester begins

Aloha Kākou,

This afternoon, Vice Chancellor Gomes and Vice Chancellor Rapoza join me in a virtual meeting with Mayor Kim to gain clarity on quarantine expectations for our out-of-state students. We are also having a Brown Bag with University Leadership for students and parents on July 21 at noon because we are understandably receiving many questions from them as the fall semester draws nearer. I share with you our Quarantine FAQs page that was sent to students and parents last week that addresses some of their concerns.

We are still awaiting a budget from Governor Ige and finalization of a health check-in app from the UH System. Meanwhile, we continue to prepare for fall on a number of fronts, as you will see below. My thanks and appreciation to all the teams and to the faculty who have been participating in the online/hybrid instruction training sessions. I am grateful for your dedication to our university and our students.

Testing and Tracing (Carolyn Ma, convener)

Screening app: Specific to UH Hilo, discussion on a Point of Contact for submissions for follow up continues. A list of Hawai’i County hospitals, emergency rooms, urgent care and other facilities was provided so a link appears on the app.

Testing: UH System has been given the exemption to allow returning non-resident students to test out of quarantine and to attend UH-held activities. Thus far this exemption does not apply to our island. A proposal to Hawai`i County will be made this week for on-site testing of our returning non-resident students prior to move-in to the residence halls and start of instruction. Testing dates have been proposed and we are awaiting confirmation. In addition, DoH may help with testing depending upon demand on other islands and current outbreak numbers.

The concerns of cost to the student have been addressed and the student will not bear the cost of the test or processing. Costs not covered by student insurance will be donated by the testing group, clinical labs, DoH, or if necessary, a request to Hawai’i County.

In the event of identified cases, DoH and Hawai’i County Health Office actively monitors and follows through with contact tracing, release date of quarantine and/or progression to an active case.

Contact Tracing: We are configuring a position as the lead or point of contact (POC) to work as part of the DoH Medical Reserve Corps. Duties include conducting contract tracing on behalf of DoH for campus cases, serve as the UH Hilo/HawCC Point of Contact for questions from the community, conduct education to both campuses and act as the liaison to the various COVID-19 campus committees. Additional support for contact tracing will be provided by the Hawai’i County Health Office and DoH.

Academic and Student Support (Farrah-Marie Gomes, convener)

Our StudentLingo website is now live. UH Hilo faculty, staff and students have access to 50 student success videos that you are welcome to incorporate into your curriculum. Additional information about this resource will be sent in a separate email. You may begin previewing the short videos by going to

Several Student Affairs offices have started to make adjustments to their office and meeting spaces to ensure that staff are able to safely meet in person with students. You may see some offices with dual monitors set up 6 feet apart from each other, while other offices will be using AppleTV or screen sharing features to replace staff and students sitting next to each other in appointments. Work in this area will continue through the start of the semester as we await additional orders to arrive and as staff determine what situations will be most efficient for their individual programs and services.

Physical Distancing (Kalei Rapoza, convener)

Please Kokua sign: 6 feet aprt, Practive Social Distancing, Wear face covering, sanitize hands, seating arranged to promote physical distancing, do not move furniture, stay home if you are feeling sick.The Physical Distancing workgroup is identifying signage for campus to serve as reminders about maintaining physical distancing, leaving seats free in classrooms, wearing face coverings while on campus, and staying home if not feeling well. We are working with Graphics Services to develop and produce the signs.

These are two samples (at right, click to enlarge).

The workgroup is also reviewing areas on campus to clear certain walkways and breezeways to promote the flow of foot traffic and reduce areas for people to congregate. Signage to this effect will be strategically placed around campus.

Please wait here with graphic illustration of rubber slippers, words: 6 feet apart, support physical distancing.In addition, we will be limiting seating areas on campus by either spacing out moveable chairs and tables, reducing the number of chairs at tables, or placing reminder signs for occupancy at those tables where seating cannot be adjusted.

Online and Hybrid Learning (Joseph Sanchez, convener)

This workgroup is developing test proctoring option with the Testing Center, purchasing equipment and software based on faculty recommendations, and providing DL training and certification for faculty.

Fall Course Schedule

Course conversions for Fall 2020 are nearly complete and can be tracked on the conversion website [9/17/20 update: web page no longer active]. There may be some additional courses moving to completely online teaching as faculty with children adjust to match public school schedules being released this week. Faculty that need to adjust their schedules should request an accommodation from their Dean as soon as they find out which of their courses are conflicted. We hope to be finished with all course conversions sometime next week. A message was sent to students last week about how to decide whether to attend UH Hilo this Fall in person or via distance learning.

Deans will be meeting to reallocate teaching resources from areas with little student demand to areas of high student demand. Low-enrolled courses (<10 students) may be cancelled or deferred until Spring 2021 if they are not required to keep students on their degree path. Students will be notified of any cancellations. New sections of courses with large waitlists will be opened in the next 1-2 weeks to meet student demand. Students who need or want into a closed course should be on the waitlist.


The UH Board of Regents deferred action on the budget resolution to allow for more consideration and discussion. One of the goals of the resolution is to impress upon the university community the severity of the situation and to give the UH System maximum flexibility in dealing with any restrictions the state might impose upon us.

Strategic Doing

The Relationships and Importance of Place Doing Committees have meetings scheduled this week. Members will bring more perspectives and ideas to these groups through outreach to their networks. Please see the Strategic Doing webpage to learn more about these committees and read the meeting notes of both committees (scroll down and click on Read more about this committee’s work for each doing committee).

Importance of Wearing a Mask

Finally, I want to emphasize the importance of wearing a mask. Work by the Center for Disease Control and other organizations have shown that consistently wearing simple cloth masks significantly cuts down on both the amount of COVID-19 virus spread and the distance it is dispersed in the air and onto surfaces. I share with you this interesting article.

So please let’s all do our part to respect others as well as ourselves. Wear a mask.

Have a wonderful week, and continue to be safe and healthy!

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

UH Hilo’s COVID-19 information webpage

July 13, 2020 Update

Countdown to Fall 2020: 43 days remaining until fall semester begins

Aloha Kākou,

As I can see from the number of people attending last week’s Brown Bag meetings, there are many questions and concerns as we prepare for fall. I thank those of you who logged on to the meetings to learn more and I thank those of you who continue to contribute through service on a working group, prepping for hybrid classes, reconfiguring classrooms, planning for hybrid student support and onboarding events, and all the other things that will enable us to best serve our students who return next month.

As we all continue to get campus ready for fall, I also want to acknowledge the increased questions around telework as K-12 schools have released schedules and employees are wondering what they are going to be allowed to do. Campus will be notified as soon as the University of Hawai‘i System provides an update.

As we were preparing to post this update, Governor Ige announced he is postponing the August 1 incoming travel guidelines. We are working to address what additional preparations that might require of us and details will be shared once a decision is made.

Here are updates for this week:

Testing and Tracing (Carolyn Ma, convener)

The committee continues to formulate a plan for screening, testing and contact tracing.


UH System is in the process of developing a symptoms app that will be utilized to check daily symptoms for individuals who plan to physically visit the campus. The app would be available online or on phone. Anticipate beta testing as soon as next week, with a couple rounds of testing by the end of July. The app will be updated or revised as the pandemic changes.


Discussion continues with the State Department of Health, Hawai‘i County Health Office and the UH Health and Wellbeing Work Group to decide on the best strategy for testing, especially for our returning out-of-state students, for both on-campus and off-campus living. The committee will be creating plans based on the rapidly changing status of statewide active cases, out-of-state cases, fluidity of the supply chain of testing kits and turnaround time of tests. The committee is working to align with the Department of Health guidelines for strategic testing but may impose more testing in order to provide the safest living and working environment on campus.

Contact Tracing

All contact tracing must be conducted under the auspices of the Department of Health Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). Contact tracers for Hawai‘i Island have been trained and are available. There is discussion to provide UH Hilo-dedicated support to the contact tracing process to not only contact trace for campus cases, but also provide methods by which to support DOH in regards to campus movement. Readily available information will aid DOH case investigators to swiftly identify possible contacts. Methods such as class attendance, class schedules, student rosters, use of QR codes for entry and exit into common areas, and assigned seating, if possible, will aid in timely information.

Academic and Student Support (Farrah-Marie Gomes, convener)

This working group met with the Physical Distancing working group last week. As some distancing signs are ready for distribution, you may start to see them appearing around campus. While the goal is to be able to have a 6-foot distance between student and staff members when support services are being provided, this will not always be possible. In an effort to ensure safety in the delivery of services especially in those situations, some work spaces will have a see-through barrier installed, other spaces will have mobile barriers available. Installation and purchase of these barriers are already underway. For the most extreme cases when distance and barriers may not be enough, separate rooms will be outfitted with technology availability so students will still be able to access the services they need. At this time, all of the writing tablets previously purchased have been distributed and are currently being piloted for use in classrooms and tutoring sessions. Access to student success videos have also been broadened with the next steps focused on incorporating into programming.

Physical Distancing (Kalei Rapoza, convener)

Our Auxiliary Services employees have been hard at work implementing physical distancing in classrooms, removing chairs and desks, blocking of seating in fixed classrooms, and determining new seating counts. In addition, our information technology specialists in the Computing Center are installing new tech in classrooms to accommodate distance learning.

Here are a few photos to give you an idea of what some classrooms will look like in the fall (click to enlarge):

Online and Hybrid Learning (Joseph Sanchez, convener) 

This working group is finalizing faculty professional development compensation rates for summer and continues with ongoing training and certification for DL instruction.

Fall Course Schedule

There will be a second Brown Bag with the interim vice chancellor tomorrow, Tuesday, July 14, at noon. Meeting ID is 925 5537 4780; password is 821879.

Office of Equal Oppotunity 

The Office of Equal Opportunity and Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center are taking a break from the weekly HULIAU SERIES: Broadening Perspectives Through Courageous Conversations, and continue to seek your input on topics or speakers for this ongoing series, books or articles for our reading group, and your participation in making UH Hilo a safe, inclusive, anti-racist place of learning. Contact Jennifer Stotter or MaryAnn Baricuatro with your ideas or to volunteer. In the meantime, we encourage you to keep the conversation going in your own circles.

Here are some links to recent panels held across the country to help you do so:

Community Colleges for All (CC-ALL) is a series of digital material that promotes and fosters success and equitable programs for diverse learners as they move through their guided programs. OCCRLʻs bite-sized video vignettes show topics of critical importance that aim to foster student success and equitable outcomes.

Module 1

Episode 1: Equity-Conscious Practices
Episode 2: Identifying Equity Consciousness Gaps
Episode 3: Developing Critical Consciousness for Advancing Equity
Episode 4: Equity-Conscious Leaders and Cultural Proficiency – Leading for Change
Episode 5: Module 1 Recap

Module 2: Advancing Racial Equity in Education

Episode 1: Why Race and Equity Matter in Education
Episode 2: Anti-Racist Education
Episode 3: Racialized Realities on Community College Campuses
Episode 4: Action Steps to Advancing Racial Equity in Education
Episode 5: Module 2 Recap

Module 3: Race, Racism, and Moving Toward Racial Justice

Episode 1: Race, Racial Antipathy, and Racialized Role Strain
Episode 2: Racial Microaggressions and Racial Battle Fatigue Across Educational Contexts
Episode 3: Racialized Realities – Examining Whiteness, White Privilege, and Unlearning Colorblindness
Episode 4: Strategies and Resources to Address Race, Racism, and Move Toward Racial Justice
Episode 5: Module 3 Recap

Strategic Doing

The Relationships and Importance of Place Doing Committees have July meetings scheduled where members will bring more perspectives and ideas to the groups through outreach to their networks. Please see the Strategic Doing webpage to learn more about these committees and read the notes from the first meetings of both committees (scroll down and click on Read more about this committee’s work for each committee).

The University of Connecticut surveyed students about what would help make the fall semester a success. I imagine our students have and will tell us many of the same things. Chief among those things is empathy. Just as we saw last spring, our students are facing a number of economic, academic, and emotional stress. They want to be in class, they want to see friends, but they are also anxious about the virus. Physically distanced activities that are not all online was a desire among Connecticut students. They want to be busy and engaged, but they want to be safe.

Like all of us, students are seeking specificity in guidelines and expectations, and we will be working hard to provide them.

Have a wonderful week and mahalo for all that you do!

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

UH Hilo’s COVID-19 information webpage

July 6, 2020 Update

Countdown to Fall 2020: 50 days remaining until fall semester begins

Aloha Kākou,

On August 17, 2020, please join me in welcoming Dr. Kris Roney, who has been recommended for approval by President David Lassner as the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs here at UH Hilo following public posting on the July 16 UH Board of Regents meeting agenda.

Dr. Roney is Associate Vice President for Academic Programs and the Founding Dean of the University College & Graduate Studies at California State University, Monterey Bay. She previously served as Associate Vice President and the Founding Dean of the University College at University of North Georgia (formerly Gainesville State College) where she also held various other administrative positions. She has a wealth of experience in student success, both in increasing graduation and retention rates and in supporting high impact practices that help students thrive on campus. She has worked at highly diverse institutions, and has worked to create and support policies and programs in equity and inclusion.

Kris Roney
Kris Roney

I want to thank the search committee who spent many hours reading files and interviewing candidates, as well as all of the campus constituents that participated in the process for both this position and the others for which we are searching. The investment of your time and attention speaks well of your care for UH Hilo and our future.

Our various working groups continue to meet often. Here are the following updates.

Testing and Tracing (Dean Carolyn Ma, convener). The Testing and Tracing Working Group has formed with the following members:

  • Sherri Akau (UH Hilo Housing)
  • Laura Hill (Hawai‘i Community College Nursing)
  • Heather Hirata (UH Hilo Student Health Center)
  • Kenneth Kaleiwahea (Hawai‘i CC)
  • Joan Pagan (UH Hilo Nursing)
  • Cara Ikeda (UH Hilo College of Pharmacy)
  • Misty Pacheco (UH Hilo College of Natural and Health Sciences)
  • Joyce Norris Taylor (UH Hilo Nursing)
  • Kei-Lin K.H. Cerf (Palamanui)
  • Sheri Tokumaru (UH Hilo College of Pharmacy)
  • Ken Ikeda (UH Hilo Office of Environmental Health and Safety)

The committee met for the first time on Thursday, July 2, and will meet weekly to prepare process, policies and procedures that will adapt the UH COVID-19 Guidelines (Interim) specifically to UH Hilo, Hawai‘i Community College and Palamanui.

Academic and Student Support (Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Farrah-Marie Gomes, convener)

The Academic and Student Support Working Group continues to meet weekly. Writing tablets have been received and are being distributed so faculty and staff can begin testing the effectiveness of this tool. Short videos are currently in production to help address training topics identified by this working group. Student success videos are being shared with select staff this week so that a comprehensive rollout plan can be shared with the entire campus by the end of the month. We are awaiting the arrival of webcams to begin the conversion of spaces to serve as virtual access hubs across the campus. This working group is meeting this week with the Physical Distancing group to discuss details about items and areas where both groups overlap.

Physical Distancing (Interim Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Kalei Rapoza, convener)

The Physical Distancing Working Group will be publishing campus guidelines this week, which will add more Hilo-specific information to the UH Systemwide interim guidelines issued on July 1.

Fall Course Schedule

Interim Vice Chancellor Ken Hon’s memo to faculty outlined UH Hiloʻs plans for offering courses only in hybrid or pure online formats that give flexibility to both faculty and students and avoid some of the concerns expressed in the higher educational media. These course type choices were made to give faculty control of the amount of in-person contact (within physical distancing limitations) and the amount of online contact within each hybrid course. Faculty have the flexibility to choose the arrangement that they feel most comfortable teaching within and, likewise, students have the freedom to choose whether to participate in face-to-face sessions or attend most classes all online. It is important to remember that the students who are coming back to campus will expect some in-person class sessions.

Allowing faculty and students to choose the mode of teaching/learning they are most comfortable with was the guiding factor in the modality choices. We will have more detailed descriptions of the course types available to students within the next day or two. We are just beginning the transition between the previously scheduled courses that were originally to be held all in-person to either hybrid or all online courses. The key to success will be having faculty reach out to students to let them know how their course will be taught. You can follow these changes at Fall 2020 Conversion to Hybrid Courses) and on the table in the middle of this web page.


The legislature plans to end its session on Friday, at which time we will have more information on our state-funded budget proportion. Bills passed this session will still require the Governor’s signature to become Acts.

Moving Forward

We were all awaiting the UH Systemwide guidance that was issued last week. As you can see from its depth and breadth, numerous people have been working on it over the last few weeks. Our plans will look very similar, but will include some things that are specific to our campus. In addition, Vice Chancellor Gomes and Vice Chancellor Rapoza joined me for a meeting with Mayor Harry Kim last Friday morning, where we discussed the importance of coordinating efforts with the city and county. We all wish to keep our community, both on and off campus, as safe as we can, and we continue to work toward that end as we welcome students back in the fall.

Take care, and I look forward to seeing many of you on Wednesday at our next Brown Bag July 8!

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

UH Hilo’s COVID-19 information webpage

June 29, 2020 Update

Countdown to Fall 2020: 57 days remaining until fall semester begins

Aloha Kākou,

As you will see from this message, the work of the task groups continues. UH System guidelines for fall 2020 may be coming out this week, and once we align our drafts with the System document, we will be able to circulate more specific guidance to our campus. Faculty will receive information from Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ken Hon later today regarding teaching modalities, which allow faculty to prepare their classes with the physical distancing guidelines in place. By mid-July, we hope to roll out an app that will allow for daily health check-ins for all members of our ‘ohana who will be coming to campus.

I share with you the following updates:

Academic and Student Support (Farrah Gomes, convener)

The Academic and Student Support working group has been meeting weekly to discuss what virtual services and tech tools are already in place and which ones are needed to better support our students. Additionally, this working group has been discussing what trainings are needed to support faculty, staff and students in the use of the various tools and resources available to them. This work group met last week with the Online and Hybrid Learning working group to collaborate in areas that overlap both areas. Student success videos, writing tablets, and webcams have already been purchased and will be piloted in the month of July for full implementation in August. A list of training topics is being developed so that short videos can be created to further support access to helpful information. The intent is to post the videos on a website where other critical information and resources will be compiled into a single, easy to find location.

Physical Distancing (Kalei Rapoza, convener)

The Physical Distancing working group has met twice in June to create on-campus guidance for distancing. There is focus on maintaining social distancing and creating space in classrooms, labs, offices, and other common areas, as well as providing guidance on face coverings and informing the campus with appropriate signage. The social distancing practices include: 6 feet of separation, removing or restricting seating, adjusting walking patterns, and limiting large meetings and gatherings. We are also reviewing supplies for sanitation on campus, such as cleaning supplies for common areas and increasing locations for hand sanitizing stations.

Online and Hybrid Learning (Joseph Sanchez, convener)

The Online and Hybrid Learning working group came up with the following recommendations:

  • Faculty stipends for summer work toward DL certification/coursework
  • Casual hires through the Library to provide recorded lecture segments of critical course content
  • Develop a list of Wifi locations in community so faculty can distribute to students
  • Assess feasibility/cost of circulating Wifi hotspots to students
  • Develop a plan for test proctoring in the Fall
  • Tweak online and ongoing communication with students and faculty on high-issue needs, such as no link to 24/7 ITS help in Laulima when students can’t log-in


The legislature returned to session last week and we are awaiting decisions regarding our fall budget. Letters of appointment will go out to members of the Long Range Budget Planning Committee this week, and I look forward to convening this group soon.

Office of Equal Opportunity

The Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) continues work to advance diversity, equity and inclusion with our campus partners. In light of recent Title IX legislative changes, training for Title IX coordinators, deputies, investigators and decision makers hosted by the UH Office of Institutional Equity will be held throughout the summer. These sessions will be recorded and will be made available for any employee interested in learning more.

OEO also continues to collaborate with Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center  in our HULIAU Series: Broadening Perspectives Through Courageous Conversations. The first session featured a panel discussion on “What Black Lives Matter Means to Me.” The next Huliau session will be this Wednesday, July 1, from 2:00 pm-4:00 pm with guest speaker Joy Enomoto on “Black Lives Matter and Hawaiʻi’s Historical Connections to Racial Inequity.” Weʻll follow a similar format as the first session, with an informative and educational discussion with Joy, followed by breakout rooms to engage participants in small group discussions. More information, registration and additional resources can be found at HULIAU. Please reach out to Jennifer Stotter for more information or to get involved.

Free Resources/Development Opportunities

The Association for Talent Development Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiʻi Employers’ Council, Hawaiʻi Alliance of Non-profit Organizations, Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals, and the Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network recently hosted a webinar entitled: “The Leadership We Need Now: How Hawai`i Organizations Can Be Taking Action Against Systemic Racism.” You can find the recording here and access it with the password: 8O=@80o4.

The following webcasts are also available on demand by DIVERSE: Issues in Higher Education:

  • Addressing Racism and Structural Inequity in America—What Role Does Higher Education Have to Play?
  • College Athletics After COVID-19; What is the Impact? What Are the Ramifications?
  • Calling Out Xenophobia, Racism and Intolerance During the COVID-19 Crisis
  • Three Big Diversity-Related Questions Resulting from the COVID-19 Crisis

Strategic Doing

The two Strategic Doing teams have had their first meetings and are in the midst of scheduling the next. The Relationships Committee began discussions with the question: What might the university look like if UH Hilo’s relationships were healthy and productive? Discussions included identifying pockets of excellence on campus that we might learn from, the impact that a mentor for each student might have along with clear roles for mentors and advisors, and defining the role of UH Hilo and the scope of that role in relationship to our community. The Importance of Place Committee began their discussions with the question: Imagine the value of making our university’s unique place integral in all that we do at UH Hilo—what would that look like and what would result? Discussions included how we might ensure that our academic programs are anchored to our unique place from an instructional perspective, what training(s) rooted in place UH Hilo should bring to the campus community, and what place-based collaborations might bring more opportunities into our classrooms. Committee members are now reaching out to their networks to explore these and a number of other ideas related to relationships and place.

EM Searches

Virtual campus visits of the finalists for the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences’ position continues this week. Please participate and provide feedback.

My best wishes for everyone for the upcoming long weekend. As always, stay safe and well and rest assured that we are working behind the scenes to make our campus ready for August and the arrival back in Hawai‘i of many of our students. My sincere mahalo for all those serving on a working group and all those making contributions to our fall readiness.

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

UH Hilo’s COVID-19 information webpage

Countdown to Fall 2020: 64 days remaining until fall semester begins

June 22, 2020

Aloha Kākou,

I hope the fathers in our ‘ohana had a good day yesterday, and that everyone in our community is staying safe and well.

It has been a busy week on campus, both in person and virtually! Our working groups continue to meet and plan. The Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, along with other key stakeholders across the university, continues to work on diversity, equity, and inclusion activities, and our Strategic Doing committees had their first meetings and began discussing the university’s relationships and importance of place.

The UH Hilo campus remains closed to the general public and non-members of the UH Hilo community. We are beginning to reopen operations to those members of the general public who are specifically invited to campus for programmatic reasons and are here by appointment, e.g. ‘Imiloa, Testing Center, and Campus Tours.

Summer Session II

Today marks the first day of Summer Session II. Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ken Hon sent an email to all students last week letting them know that all Summer Session II classes will remain online for the duration of the session. In planning for the fall and helping our students with their progress to degree, if there are any students who have not yet registered for any Summer Session classes, please encourage them to do so immediately.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

You may have noticed that ‘Imiloa is going to open for Hālau Lamakū, a summer program focused on place-based learning for keiki in grades 1-5. The program is already sold out, and will be held July 13-31. ‘Imiloa is strictly following the guidelines for museums and child care facilities in its plans, and the keiki who are engaged in the program will stay within the borders of ‘Imiloa’s building and grounds.

Testing Center

We will also be opening the Testing Center to allow our students and other select community members to take required certification tests. Physical distancing and sanitizing procedures will be in force.

Campus Tours

We are also looking at plans to conduct small campus tours for prospective students. This will be very small in size, and by appointment only. While on the tour, all participants will be required to wear masks.

Masks on Campus

We are planning to expect the wearing of masks by people on campus in the fall, unless health guidelines have changed dramatically by then, which we doubt. Those with private offices and those who can maintain a safe distance from others will be able to remove their masks in those spaces, but will be expected to wear the mask when walking to other places on campus, such as down the hall, in the restrooms, and in the dining center. More specific guidelines will be released soon, but make sure you have a mask available when coming to campus! Additional guidelines for athletes engaged in practice and competition will be forthcoming as well.

Testing and Tracing

This working group will begin meeting soon. Some members of our ‘ohana have met with representatives of the County Department of Health, and we will be relying on both campus and community resources. The University of Hawai‘i System is vetting various health check-in apps, and will be making a decision on one of these soon.


For both budget and safety reasons, the interstate and international travel limitations for UH employees remain in place. Exceptions may only be granted by the president, and quarantine restrictions will continue to follow state and county guidelines. Interisland business travel will require approval of the chancellor.


Membership of the Long-Range Budget Committee has been finalized. As soon as I confirm the willingness of those chosen to serve, I will announce the composition of the committee and the first meeting, which will be held in early July. You may continue to make suggestions here.

EM Searches

  • Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs: We are in the process of finalizing an offer to a VCAA, which needs to go to the president for approval.
  • Dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences: The Search Committee is conducting reference checks and will provide a report to the chancellor next week.
  • Dean of Students/Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs: Campus virtual interviews are today and tomorrow.
  • Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences: Interviews begin this week.

Further Questions?

I have scheduled two open Zoom meetings for the campus on Wednesday, July 8 and July 29, noon – 1 p.m. Zoom information will be shared this week. I know folks have questions and concerns so I hope you join in.

In the meantime, I hope you are finding time for rest and reflection. I have completed reading White Fragility this weekend, a powerful book indeed, which underlines how much I have yet to learn. I look forward to joining in on some of the critical conversations we will have on campus this fall.

Mahalo nui loa for all you do for UH Hilo!

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

UH Hilo’s COVID-19 information webpage

Countdown to Fall 2020: 71 days remaining until fall semester begins

June 15, 2020

Aloha Kākou,

I hope everyone is well and beginning to take advantage of the state and county’s slow opening of “non-essential” services.

We are in the last week of Summer Session I. I hope those who are teaching are finding their students engaged and thriving, albeit in a different modality than they might be accustomed to. Thank you for continuing to support our students’ learning this summer!

As we prepare for Summer Session II, the working groups continue to meet and discuss what will be needed for us to have some face-to-face classes this fall. You will find some updates in this message.

You’ll also find some updates regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Just as COVID-19 will still be with us in fall in some form, so, too, is systemic racism, and we will continue to work toward a campus whose diversity is more than just a set of numbers.

CARES Funding

Before the end of the spring semester, we received nearly $1.5 million in CARES 1 funding. This money was earmarked for direct aid to students, and because of the hard work of our Financial Aid and Cashier’s Office staff, we were able to disburse over $1.1 million in much needed direct aid for students, on top of the $84,000 emergency aid from the UH Foundation that was made possible by donations, some of which came from our own ‘ohana here at UH Hilo. Another $24,000 is going out this week, and we have some CARES funding left for Fall distribution.

The CARES 2 tranche was also nearly $1.5 million, and that has been allocated to pay for fall preparations: 1) classroom upgrades; 2) cleaning supplies and PPE; 3) student help; 4) stipends and overload to cover online and hybrid instruction training for faculty and staff; other technology tools for academic and student support.

CARES 3 funds, which we received because we are a Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander serving campus, total just over $2.691 million. The projects that will be funded with these dollars will be determined in part by a list submitted from Hanakahi Council, as well as toward other CARES-related expenses from last spring and the coming fall.


While the CARES money will certainly help, we still expect to have a constrained budget in fall. The legislature will come back into session on June 22 to finalize the budget and send it to the governor. We expect to know more by early July. We have received several nominations for members of the Long Range Budget Planning Committee, and the vice chancellors and I will be finalizing the composition and convening the group by the first week in July.

Fall Preparation—Instruction

Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ken Hon is working with the other UH Systemwide VCAAs and UH Distance Learning group to finalize the types of instruction that will be needed for fall. The goal is to deliver the best education possible to our students, both on campus and online, with an eye to keeping our whole community as safe as we can. I was glad to see in the faculty survey that despite the challenges of spring 2020, many faculty now feel more comfortable in the online environment. In fall, some classes will need to be totally online, some hybrid, some face-to-face; all must be flexible so that we can be ready for whatever COVID-19 throws at us. Faculty will be hearing more from Interim VC Hon soon.

In order to prepare our campus, classrooms have been measured, and seats will be removed or blocked off to ensure appropriate distancing. The Scheduling Committee has been apprised of the new capacity numbers and are adjusting the schedule accordingly. Traffic patterns in and out of buildings, hand sanitizing stations, and other adjustments are being made and funded by the CARES funding referenced above.

Fall Preparation—Housing

Our student Housing staff has been working diligently to devise a plan to house as many students as possible with adequate physical distancing and cleaning protocols in place. We will need to reduce the number of students in the residence halls, but we want to make sure that we serve as many students as we can. Housing offers will be going out to students this week, which will help us determine our fall occupancy.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

I encourage everyone to make time to engage in reflection on our diverse community and how we might strengthen it to provide a truly supportive environment for all members of our ‘ohana. For my part, I am currently reading the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. We are also working to hold space for members of our community to share the stories of their lived experiences. The Office of Equal Opportunity is partnering with the campus Diversity Committee and Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center to produce a series of courageous conversations, the Huliau.

The Huliau Series aims to provide a safe space for our UH Hilo community to engage in critical conversations around racial disparities and systemic injustices. Through discussion, shared experiences, and guidance from informed community panelists, we lean into this huliau, this pivotal moment for transformation and change, and educate ourselves and each other to develop more conscious, intentional, and actively engaged citizens.

This presentation series is open to all UH Hilo students, faculty, and staff. Seats are limited to encourage deeper small group discussions. Edited recordings may be made available to the greater public with permission from participants.

Huliau Series Discussion 1: Black Lives Matter. June 17, 2020, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. Click here for more information and to register.

Strategic Doing

The committees will be holding its first meetings this week! I look forward to meeting both groups and discussing the future of our great university. Click here for more information.

Have a wonderful, productive week!


Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

Countdown to Fall 2020: 78 days remaining until fall semester begins

June 8, 2020

Aloha Kākou,

Thankfully, our community continues to be relatively safe from the COVID virus and calm, despite the upheaval parts of the country are experiencing. While UH Hilo is rightfully proud to be the country’s most diverse campus, we all know that racism still exists, often hidden in things that we don’t even realize. The events of the last few months highlight the need to strive to create the equity and inclusion necessary to allow our diversity to flourish. One of the things I am exploring is how we might address these issues to make sure that every individual on our campus is accorded the respect and opportunities they deserve. Keep connected to hear of more opportunities to discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion in the future.

Strategic Doing Committee Updates

The initial meetings of these groups have been scheduled, and membership has been confirmed. Please continue to check the Strategic Doing website for additional information.

Student Spring 2020 Survey of Online Experience

Three hundred and fifty students responded to the survey, and they have given us a wealth of information that will inform our efforts in the online environment generally and for fall 2020 in particular. One of the questions we asked students was to name a faculty member who, from their perspective, handled the transition particularly well this last spring. I was gratified to see that 130 separate faculty members were named, some multiple times! I will be reaching out to these faculty with my congratulations in the coming weeks.

Some students opted out of the question, some responded that they did not have any faculty who did particularly well, but others said that all their faculty did well. My favorite comment might be this one:

All of my professors tried their best to improvise and adapt to the new challenges unexpectedly placed upon them. Surprisingly, I have received the best grades during this semester that I have in all my years at UH Hilo. I commend all of my instructors for their efforts and support.

Thanks again to all faculty and staff who stepped up to keep our students on track and to hold space for those students to express concerns along the way.

Fall 2020 Working Groups

  • Physical Distancing (Kalei Rapoza, convener)
  • Academic and Student Support (Farrah-Marie Gomes, convener)
  • Online and Hybrid Learning (Joseph Sanchez, convener)

Two of our working groups got started this last week, and the conveners for both say that good ideas have come forward. We have ordered equipment for some of our classrooms to make hybrid classes easier to manage so that students attending online will have an experience of the same quality as those attending in person. An inventory of support programs and platforms is underway with plans to purchase and provide training in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the Seats Committee has continued to meet to match class sizes with the physical distancing capacity of our rooms for fall. The goal remains to keep our community as safe as possible while giving our students the best educational experience that we can muster.

Once we know more from the UH System level and the Hawai‘i State Department of Health, we will convene a testing and tracing working group.

Long Range Budget Committee

We are finalizing this committee as well. We expect the legislature to come back into session in the middle of this month and have the state budget finalized by the beginning of the fiscal year. Thus, on campus, we hope to know more about our state appropriation soon.

Administrative Searches

The vice chancellor and academic dean searches are moving along, as is the search for the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs/Dean of Students. The VC search is in the final stages, and there will be finalist interviews for the dean searches this week and later this month. Please check your email to learn of opportunities to participate. While I had hoped to wrap all the searches up during the academic year, COVID delayed these plans. As it is imperative to start the new academic year with a more permanent leadership team in place, I ask for your active participation. Faculty have requested that we postpone the College of Natural and Health Sciences interview scheduled for Wednesday so that the campus can honor the #ShutDownSTEM action. If the candidate agrees to be rescheduled, there will be an update on this schedule today or tomorrow.

I wish everyone a great week, and please continue to keep healthy and well!


Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

Countdown to Fall 2020: 85 days remaining until fall semester begins

June 1, 2020

Aloha Kākou,

Welcome to the first of our weekly fall 2020 preparation updates!

With overwhelming gratitude, I am proud of how our university has come together over the last several weeks to protect our students and employees, as well as to flatten the curve for the benefit of those with whom we work and live. To create safety in this pandemic, our students uprooted themselves while our faculty and staff worked many long hours. The personal adjustments you have each made have not been easy, and I thank you all.

I know that you are anxious to know the answers to many questions about how we will continue to keep our community as safe as possible and how we will conduct classes and student and employee support activities. To this end, we have assembled teams to work on a variety of issues at both the University of Hawai‘i System level and the UH Hilo campus level.

Here is a listing of our campus committees:

Physical Distancing Working Group

This group will be looking at how we make sure our offices and classroom spaces are prepared to re-open with physical distancing in place. They will also continue to guide the work that facilities personnel have been doing, such as deciding where plexiglass shielding may be needed, where we need hand sanitizing stations, and how traffic will flow through buildings. First meeting: June 2, 2020.

  • Kalei Rapoza (convener)
  • Shay Hara
  • Kensei Gibbs
  • Lari-anne Au
  • Landon Ballesteros
  • Lai Sha Bugado
  • Tim Moore
  • Rodney Jubilado
  • Kerri Inglis
  • Bryan Kim
  • Brian Wissman
  • Nadine Hara
  • Daryl Masuda
  • Jim Beets
  • Ka‘iu Kimura
  • Lee Barnette-Dombroski
  • Lissa Tsutsumi
  • Jerome Paguirigan (student member)

Online and Hybrid Learning Working Group

This group will be reviewing the feedback from the student and faculty surveys. They will also discuss classroom and online learning technology needs and online and hybrid pedagogy and training needs. First meeting coming soon, to be announced.

  • Joseph Sanchez (convener)
  • Blaine Bautista
  • Keith Edwards
  • Joan Thompson Pagan
  • Jan Ray
  • Cindy Yamaguchi
  • Julie Mowrer
  • Amy Horst
  • Kirsten Mollegaard
  • Student to be named

Student and Academic Support Working Group

This group will be looking at ways we can best support students, both those on campus and those attending from a distance. They will be looking at tech tools that may be employed to assist with student support and how best to train staff and faculty to support this work. First meeting: June 4, 2020.

  • Farrah-Marie Gomes (convener)
  • Efren Ruiz
  • Michael Bitter
  • Jim Mellon
  • Emmeline DePillis
  • Karla Hayashi
  • Sherrie Padilla
  • Student to be named 

If you have concerns or suggestions for any of these groups, feel free to contact any of the members.

We will also be putting together a testing and tracing group at a later date, once we have more information from the county and the System about requirements and resources.

Preparing for the Post-COVID campus

Also, to help guide us into the future, we will be launching the strategic doing committees!  As you might recall, we have two major areas for these small teams to work on: relationships and place. Thanks to everyone who nominated a colleague or themselves for this opportunity. These committees are small in order to be nimble, but their charge includes engaging with their stakeholder groups as they develop projects. Kathleen Baumgardner will convene these groups soon.

Relationships Committee

  • Julie Mowrer (faculty)
  • Justina Mattos (faculty)
  • Jennifer Stotter (staff)
  • Kainoa Ariola (staff)
  • Jaslinn Makamae Kamaka-Mauhili (student)
  • Keali‘i Beck (community)
  • Vanessa Carlson (community)

Relationships Committee alternate members:

  • Michael Marshall (faculty)
  • Patrick Guillen (staff)

Importance of Place Committee

  • Heather Kaluna (faculty)
  • Michele Ebersole (faculty)
  • Ka‘iu Kimura (staff)
  • Hualani Loo (staff)
  • Bruce Torres Fischer (student)
  • Janice Ikeda (community)
  • Ulu Ching (community)
  • 2nd community member TBA

Importance of Place Committee alternate members:

  • Todd Inouye (faculty)
  • Joseph Sanchez (staff)
  • Fanny Brewer (community)

EM Searches

We are also moving ahead briskly with our administrative searches! I am close to naming a new vice chancellor for academic affairs; the academic dean searches and the dean of student searches are all at the semifinal or finalist stages. Please watch your email for notice of upcoming interview/presentation sessions. My thanks to the committees who have agreed to work into the summer so that we can bring these searches to successful conclusions.

Again, mahalo for all your efforts. Despite the flurry of activities this summer, I urge each of you to find some time for rest and rejuvenation. Stay tuned for further updates next week!

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

UH Hilo’s COVID-19 Information webpage


May 28, 2020

We do not have all the answers yet, but with weekly messages (more when there is breaking news), I hope to keep you as informed as possible.

Aloha Kākou,

I hope everyone had an opportunity to get away from computer screens and find some time for rest over the recent Memorial Day weekend. I found the holiday particularly meaningful this year, as it gave me an opportunity to reflect on lives lost not only among our military but among those who have fallen victim to disease, poverty, and strife. These losses also inspire me to do better, to help educate a strong generation who will serve our communities far into the future.

I know many of you have questions about what is going to be happening in fall. Many people have been working behind the scenes to get us ready for opening in fall as safely as possible. Starting on Monday, June 1, there will be regular updates to the campus so that we can keep you all apprised of preparations.

We do not have all the answers yet, but with weekly messages (more when there is breaking news), I hope to keep you as informed as possible.

Thank you for all you do for our students and our institution.

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

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