I am excited to share with you this inaugural University of Hawai‘i at Hilo alumni newsletter, which will allow us to stay in touch, even during these times when we must remain physically distant. I hope you are all staying well and that your families are healthy in these challenging times. You can expect this newsletter twice a year, and we will do our best to let you know of things happening on campus as well as stories about your fellow alumni. If you have something you wish to share, please feel free to get in touch! When it is safe to do so, we will start hosting events again, and we will make sure you hear about opportunities to participate.
Life on campus these days is a little quieter and a little slower, but we still have over 200 students living on campus, and we are holding face-to-face classes for labs and clinical experiences that cannot be duplicated online. Our campus staff, faculty, and students have been vigilant about health and safety protocols, which has allowed us to keep our community relatively safe. When I hear from colleagues about very different circumstances on the continent, I am so grateful that our campus maintains a strong sense of aloha and mālama for one another. This has allowed for some in-person classes to continue and for a limited athletic competition schedule.
More challenging than the pandemic itself has been the subsequent budget restriction that we are preparing for. In July, I convened a budget committee that has been working hard to determine how we will continue to support our students in the best way possible while preserving those aspects of a UH Hilo education that are our hallmarks: ‘āina-based education centered around Hawaiian values and deep concern for our community, and out-of-class applied learning experiences, such as research, community service, and study abroad. Our faculty are in discussions about how to make our programs even more relevant and resonant for our current and future students.
As you know, UH Hilo has a resilient ‘ohana, filled with creative and talented people who care about our students and our community. I am proud of how we have come through the pandemic and I am optimistic about our future. In our next newsletter, we will have an update about strategic planning and the announcement of an alumni advisory board I will be creating to help us continue to thrive.
Mahalo nui loa for all your support,
Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin