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Message from the Chancellor: A Time of Celebration

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana

May is a time of great celebration at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Our campus ‘ohana came together honoring our students, faculty and staff in hybrid celebrations.

We honored our retirees, award winners, and those who have contributed 10, 20, 30, or 40 years of service to our wonderful university with a virtual ceremony (above video). Congratulations to all of you! Our 2020 retirees, after an aggregate total of 447 years of service to UH Hilo, are entering the next chapter of their lives. Likewise, our years-of-service honorees, with a sum total of 650 years, and our award winners are working steadily behind the scenes at home or behind a mask on campus to continue to support this university we all cherish.

We congratulated our Spring 2021 graduating class and again, mahalo to the faculty and staff that all worked to help get our students over the finish line in a time of unprecedented challenges. Students who have spent years working toward their degree will have that certification in hand as we emerge from the COVID crisis into a new world with the skills that we have helped those students acquire. Each and every student will have memories of UH Hilo that they will carry with them into their personal and professional lives.

Several programs hosted celebratory events for their graduates prior to commencement hybrid celebrations. This past Saturday, approximately 150 students participated in a virtual commencement kīhei tying ceremony, a prerecorded virtual commencement presentation premiered with 280 participants registered to upload content, and we hosted a successful campus drive-thru event for 161 students with many of you cheering and congratulating them as they drove by. Mahalo nui to everyone that contributed to all of these events for our students!

The post-COVID UH Hilo will be a different place, to be sure, but it will still be guided by the same values of community, student support, diversity, and excellence that characterize our university today. Our Hoku-pa‘a (our North Star, fixed for our navigation) is still the success of each of our students, and as we make sacrifices now to protect our future, it is these students who will remain our focus. How we best support them while keeping ourselves safe and healthy and with a constrained budget is our challenge, and I am confident that working together, we will meet it. We have learned what we are capable of, what really matters, and what we can do when we all put our ideas and efforts together.

I hope everyone can find a bit of respite from this busy year over the summer.

Be well and stay safe.


Bonnie D. Irwin

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