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Chancellor’s Weekly Messages for Summer 2021

Latest (and last for the summer) Message: August 16, 2021

Aerial of campus in 2014 with Hilo Bay in background.

Aloha Kākou,

As a reminder, employees are encouraged to get vaccinated and must upload their vaccination information to the LumiSight UH app. The vaccine mandate/weekly COVID-19 testing requirement for UH employees takes effect Monday, August 23, 2021. The UH System is working with the unions representing UH employees on a vaccination and testing policy and it will be announced shortly.

COVID vaccinations are being offered for students only this Thursday from noon – 5 p.m. in the Hale Kehau Lounge.

As we approach the start of school, it is important to keep the safety protocols we have had throughout the pandemic:

  • We continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated
  • In addition to following face covering guidelines, for more protection, wear a mask as often as possible while on campus
  • Maintain physical distance, indoors and outdoors
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently
  • Constant cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing will be important, and we continue to do this

Strategic Plan

Remember that the Strategic and Action Plans are still available for comment. For those who are finding the blog too unwieldy or would rather remain anonymous, we have also set up a Google form for comment:

UH Hilo Action Plan Feedback Google Form

Long Range Budget and Planning Committee

The Long Range Budget and Planning Committee met August 13 and notes from that meeting are available here.

New Student Orientation

The First Year Experience (FYE) is hosting in-person New Student Orientation this Wednesday and Thursday for new students and their families. The FYE office thanks all collaborators in helping to ensure activities are offered in a safe environment. If you meet students who are lost or have questions, direct them to the CC Plaza for assistance. They can also email

Campus Dining

This week, Deja Brew is open 9:00 am – 1:00 pm on Wednesday and Thursday. Beginning Monday, August 23, Deja Brew is open Monday – Friday, 7:30 am – 1:30 pm. The Campus Center Dining Room reopens Monday, August 23, for take-out meals only. Fall semester hours are Monday – Friday, 10:00 am – 3:30 pm. Outdoor seating is available on the Library Lanai and fronting the Campus Center Dining Room.

Online food ordering is available through the GET Mobile app that can be used on any mobile device or computer and allows students, faculty and staff to quickly and safely pre-order, pay, and pick up meals at the Campus Center Dining Room and Deja Brew.

University Forum Recording

For those of you who didn’t join us at last week’s University Forum with guest President David Lassner, the recording is available on YouTube. Our next University Forum is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, September 23 at noon via Zoom. The topic will be on our upcoming WSCUC accreditation.

Last Summer Message

Finally, this summer message is the final one for summer 2021. Campus updates, news and other announcements will be included in our weekly “Ha‘ilono o UH Hilo” [e-newsletter], which resumes Tuesday, August 24.

I wish everyone a great start of the fall semester!

Mahalo for all that you do,



August 9, 2021

Aloha Kākou,

In line with the University System announcement on the student vaccination requirement and testing requirement for unvaccinated students, UH Hilo is finalizing a mandatory weekly testing protocol. An on-campus weekly testing option will be available for students. Information will be shared once details are finalized. Weekly testing options are also available in the community and may be found on the County of Hawai‘i’s website.

A survey went out to all students today regarding their vaccination status. We hope that this survey will give us more complete information than the sample survey done previously. If you have contact with students this week, please encourage them to complete the survey.

We are also working on a simple Lumisight screen that a student or employee could show upon entering enclosed spaces. The screen would indicate that the holder is “cleared” either by vaccine or test.

UH Hilo’s Center for Community Engagement & Campus Center has been awarded $149,000 from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund to implement student and faculty programming grounded in community, relationships and equity. With support from Vibrant Hawai‘i, County of Hawai‘i R&D, and KTA Superstores, CCE is implementing a pilot Bonner program, a four-year program for students that combines leadership development and service that is geared to, but not exclusively for, first-generation and low-income students. CCE will also offer professional development for faculty in pedagogies that are grounded in community, relationships and equity: community-engaged teaching, inclusive teaching, and mentorship. Faculty will then form cohorts of learners who work together throughout the year to learn and implement strategies. Cohort members commit to inviting and mentoring another educator in 2022-23 to continually grow the initial learning.

As faculty continue with DL preparations, first and foremost, please test the new tech set-up in your classroom ahead of the first day of class. If you plan to use media, including video and audio, please run tests before classes start. Make sure you log into Zoom from the classroom computer. We do recommend using Firefox rather than Microsoft Edge as the latter has presented some problems with Zoom. For assistance, please contact the following:

Our next University Forum (for faculty and staff) is this Thursday at 11:30 a.m. with guest President David Lassner. I hope you are able to join us. Zoom link:; Meeting ID: 942 8087 8569; Passcode: 742660. Questions may be submitted in advance to

Mahalo, and have a great week!



August 2, 2021

Aloha Kākou,

As I mentioned last week in a message to campus, the initial draft of our Action Plan is now available for your review and everyone is encouraged to participate in the online interactive discussion forum through August 31, 2021. Each strategy is listed in the discussion forum to focus comments and discussion around the following leading questions:

  • What action items or deliverables would you like to recommend be included for this strategy?
  • Which of these actions are you (or your unit) choosing to sponsor (lead) or actively participate and collaborate with the sponsor?

This multi-year action plan was developed in consultation with input from the Chancellor’s Executive Council,  the Student Success Leadership Team, the Strategic Doing Groups with community and alumni representation, the UH Hilo Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao Plan recently updated by the Hanakahi Council, and based upon our campus ʻohana and community feedback collected throughout this Strategic Planning process.

During the Fall semester, each Action Plan document will be refined.  An implementation plan for each action item will be developed that will include a list of collaborators, timeline, resources needed, goal, and expected impact. These plans will assist in determining the action plan year or years for that action as well as the measurable outcomes so we can regularly report progress to campus.

I also want to remind faculty of the opportunities of COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning). This past spring, a handful of faculty used COIL in their classrooms and noted how collaboration with faculty and students in other countries enriched their curriculum. Participants included Francis Dumanig (English), Kelly Moran and Helen Tien (CoBE) Celia Bardwell-Jones (Philosophy), Yoshiko Okuyama (Japanese), Michael Skinner (History), Amy Horst (Music), and Yumiko Ohara and Scott Saft (Linguistics). International partners included Kansai University, University of the Ryukyus and Toyo University in Japan, San Pedro College in the Philippines, Hong Kong Baptist University and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in China, and A’Sharqiyah University in Oman. Faculty who are interested in incorporating online collaboration with an international partner can reach out to Todd Shumway at the Center for Global Education and Exchange to learn more about potential partners and ideas for collaboration.

In case you missed it, Ron Gordon, Professor of Communication, wrote a guest column in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on July 29, 2021 titled “A Divided World Needs the Aloha Spirit.” The essay notes that during these difficult pandemic times, in parts of America and the world, people are fighting about “individual rights” while in Hawai’i we continue to strive to live together harmoniously, caring more about the wellbeing of our `ohana and community than our individual convenience and preference. “America and the world have so much to learn from the people of our dear island home of Hawai’i.”

The 16th Annual University of Hawai`i at Hilo All-Sports Banquet was held virtually this year and honored our many student-athletes and volunteers with various academic and athletic awards, including Female and Male Athletes of the Year. Congratulations to all of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and volunteers!

With the Fall semester starting in a few weeks, I hope you continue to take some time off for yourself when your schedule allows. And, please get vaccinated if you have not already done so.  If you have friends or family who are unvaccinated, please encourage them to get the vaccine. I know we all want to keep our campus and our island safe.

Mahalo for all that you do for our students and for UH Hilo,




July 26, 2021

Aloha Kākou,

UH President Lassner sent a fall update campus-wide last Friday that includes information on student and employee vaccinations, telework, and more. In case you missed that email, you may view it here. For our campus, all classroom modifications are near completion, and our UH Hilo COVID-19 Guidelines are being updated and will be shared when it is available.

In observance of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the Hawai‘i County Committee on the Status of Women is hosting a sign waving event this Friday, July 30, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Hilo Bayfront soccer fields. All are invited to join in this event to raise awareness about human trafficking and to learn more about how this serious crime is impacting our local community. In preparation for this event, our UH Hilo Women’s Center is hosting a sign making event this Wednesday, July 28, from noon to 3:00 pm at the Student Services Center, Room W-201. Sign making supplies will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own as well. For more information, please contact

Have a great week and take care,



July 19, 2021

Aloha Kākou,

Recapping the announcement from the University System Office last Thursday, there is a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for student Housing residents and students taking part in or accessing to-be-determined activities, events and facilities. Enforcement of the vaccination requirement to attend in-person classes will take place only after a vaccine is fully approved by the FDA, so this will begin no sooner than the spring 2022 semester.

The COVID-19 vaccine requirement will be enforced this fall for students who live in on-campus housing at UH Mānoa and UH Hilo because of the close communal contact. Health and religious exemptions will be available for student residents. Other limitations may apply to the unvaccinated, but they will not be prevented from enrolling in on-campus classes.

The UH Systemwide COVID-19 Interim Guidelines is posted. UH Hilo Interim Guidelines are being reviewed and updated.

I look forward to seeing you (faculty and staff) at Thursday’s University Forum (July 22), which begins at 11:30 a.m. Zoom link:; Meeting ID: 957 3575 9748; Passcode: 180845. The vice chancellors and I hope to share more updates, including reopening campus, status of fall classes for planning purposes, updated telework policy, and more. Questions may be submitted in advance to

Mahalo, and take care,



July 12, 2021

Aloha Kākou,

I am pleased to share with you the UH Hilo 2020-2021 Annual Report. It was a challenging year, but through it all, UH Hilo remained a truly student-centered campus, serving both the students who are here physically and those who studied from a distance. Our success is due to the hard work and dedication of our faculty, staff, and students, and I send a big mahalo to all of you.

Here are more updates:

WSCUC Site Visit in October

A number of people on campus, led by our Accreditation Liaison Officer Seri Luangphinith, are working to prepare for the upcoming site visit. I will be sharing some of the things that the team is most interested in over the coming weeks.

One of the things that they are most interested in is program review of both academic and non-academic programs. Mahalo to all who have stepped up to undertake program review in the last couple of years. This is an exercise through which we learn how our students fare, what they are learning (and not) and how we might improve our programs. You have heard me mention before that we need to be an institution that learns and not just be a “learning institution.” The WSCUC team will want to see how we do just that, and program reviews and how they lead to improvement will be one of the things they will want to talk about.

Academic Affairs Transitions

With mixed feelings, I share with you the departure of two outstanding members of our ʻohana as they joyfully move on in their careers.

Harald Barkhoff
Harald Barkhoff
Emmeline De Pillis
Emmeline De Pillis

Emmeline de Pillis, presently interim dean of the College of Business and Economics, starts her new role today as dean of the College of Business and Public Management at University of LaVerne in California. She is very excited about the opportunities, particularly in the focus on social mobility for students. She also wanted all of you to know how very much she will miss UH Hilo and of her gratitude for all that she has learned from and with all of you.

On July 15, Harald Barkhoff, currently professor and chair of kinesiology and exercise sciences, will begin his new role as dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services at California State University, Monterey Bay. He mentioned that he felt called to the position because of the curriculum and vision set in service to the community, including opportunities to better serve the indigenous communities in Monterey County. He also sends his gratitude to the campus and communities for their aloha and looks to take that spirit with him.

Between them, they have served nearly 40 years at UH Hilo, and I am grateful to each for their years of care and service to this community. Please join me in congratulating Emmeline de Pillis and Harald Barkhoff!

Long Range Budget and Planning Committee

The committee met on July 9 and shares notes from the meeting here. Log-in is required.

UH Hilo Vaccination Campaign

Lastly, our UH Hilo Vaccination Campaign begins today and will continue for the next seven weeks. If you wish to participate by sharing why you got vaccinated, please contact the Office of University Relations at We will feature entries in our Monday summer messages and on social media. Mahalo for your kokua!

Wishing everyone a wonderful week!



July 4, 2021

Aloha Kākou,

I hope everyone is enjoying their July 5 day in honor of the July 4th holiday. For those of you with pets, I hope they weathered the fireworks storm! Celebrating the US independence here in Hawai’i is ironic, to say the least, but for those of you who celebrate, I wish you all the best.

Freedom, however, is something I think we can all get behind. While we depend on our families, friends, and co-workers for many things, we also want to be able to make our way in the world and have the means to do so. That independence is what we prepare our students for. The education and personal and professional development we provide allow our students a degree of independence that they may not have coming in the door. “Liberal” education means exactly that: freedom.

In the spirit of freedom, I would like to offer my mahalos to two members of our ‘ohana.

First, a mahalo to Celia Bardwell-Jones, who is representing us on the UH General Education Task Force. I have often said that the general education curriculum is not only an important foundation for majors, but also the most important piece of education in a democratic society. It provides students with the tools of citizenship, and I am eager to see what the task force comes up with. Please watch your emails for opportunity for input in this important project.

Mahalo also to Maile Boggeln, who headed up our UH Hilo Food Drive. Thanks to all who volunteered and contributed. We collected enough food and raised enough money to provide 9,386 meals to local families! This represents a 908% increase over last year’s total, and will certainly provide some support for local families on the road to independence. Projects like this are an important part of our university’s commitment to our community, who is so supportive to us.

Malama pono,



June 28, 2021

Aloha Kākou,

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Hawai‘i Tribune-Herald featured our University Town tabloid. With articles by Kathleen Baumgardner about strategic planning, Jasmine Mahinapolu Koko-Casey about her experiences in our Indigenous Teacher Education program, and Director of Athletics Pat Guillen on our recent Vulcan fundraising campaign, the supplement highlights a number of things going on at UH Hilo. Of particular note is a profile piece on our first baccalaureate graduating class. We celebrate 50 years of providing high quality baccalaureate education here in Hilo! Mahalo to all of you for keeping this grand tradition going.

Last week, UH President David Lassner visited our island briefly to meet with donors and alumni. Both groups recognize that our success is a major factor in the quality of life on Hawai‘i Island and expressed their ongoing support for what we do. I hope to make announcements about a community advisory board and an alumni advisory board for the campus by the end of summer. Please send me any suggestions you might have for membership in either group.

Congratulations to our School of Education for recently being awarded the full seven years of accreditation along with a commendation by the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation. AAQEP promotes and recognizes quality educator preparation that strengthens the education profession’s ability to serve all students, schools, and communities, and to do so equitably. AAQEP is nationally recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Congratulations also to our Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program (Specialization: Clinical Mental Health Counseling) for receiving full re-accreditation by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) for the period June 2021 through June 2029. The MPCAC accredits academic programs in psychology and counseling, which promote training in the scientific practice of professional psychology and counseling at the master’s level.

Lastly, it has been decided that our campus and the entire UH System will return to pre-pandemic office hours of 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday, beginning Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Some units such as the Mookini Library traditionally have different hours of operation from standard office hours. Check unit web pages for updated hours. Supervisors may come up with rotation plans to accommodate needs.

Have a great week, and take care,



June 21, 2021

Aloha Kākou,

Mahalo to everyone who contributed suggestions to the strategic plan draft. I appreciate the reflection and good thoughts toward our emerging vision for the campus! We will let you know when an Action Plan is ready for comment and revision soon.

As I have shared at University Forum events and other places, the strategic plan is meant to build on our strengths where we have the most potential to move forward. It is grounded in our values of care for our students and the community, and it will be designed to make meaningful contributions to improving the quality of life on our island and in the Pacific region. All of us need to work together to make that so.

Our annual University Town tabloid, which includes an article on our strategic plan efforts, will be included in this Sunday’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald and West Hawaii Today. This year’s theme stems from our new brand, “Connecting Learning, Life and Aloha.” If you would like extra hard copies to share with others, please contact University Relations at

Lastly, I apologize for cancelling this Wednesday’s University Forum with President Lassner. I have a family emergency that is taking me to the continent. We will be sure to have our monthly University Forum events in July and August, and I hope to have the president join us on one of those.

Take care, everyone, and have a great week!



June 14, 2021

Aloha Kākou! Welcome to the last week of Summer Session I.

Care Team

As with the regular semesters, this can be a high-stress time of the term for students. Our campus Care Team operates year round and due to the short and intensive nature of our summer courses, faculty are encouraged to refer students to the Care Team as soon as any possible concerns arise.

Kaukau 4 Keiki

UH Hilo’s partnership with Vibrant Hawai‘i to bring Kaukau 4 Keiki, the USDA’s Summer Food Program, to Hawai‘i Island launches this week. UH Hilo faculty, staff and students who registered their keiki for this program will be able to pick up items on Wednesdays from noon to 3:00 p.m. on the third floor of the Student Services Center. UH Hilo is proud to also serve as a public distribution site for this program. Registered community members will be participating in drive-through pick-ups of their items in front of the Bookstore during the same time periods. Please anticipate a slight increase in on-campus vehicular traffic through the Kawili Street entrances and parking lot areas for the next seven Wednesdays. Mahalo for your understanding and mahalo to the UH Hilo ‘ohana members who have volunteered to assist with this program.

Closing the Gap

Lai Sha Bugado, director of the Campus Center, has been selected to participate in the second cohort of the Association of College Unions International’s (ACUI) Closing the Gap program. Closing the Gap is an education and mentorship program focused on Black, Indigenous, and other professionals of color. Program objectives include facilitating peer networking across identities, enhancing visibility and success of leaders from marginalized identities within ACUI, supporting professional development of mid-level professionals, and providing opportunities for cross-generational learning. The program aims to ensure that participants gain insightful knowledge, tips, support, representation, and a larger network of student affairs professionals who understand the challenges and successes they have on a daily basis. It is ACUI’s hope that Closing the Gap participants and supporters form a coalition that boosts representation in the field of higher education and removes the silos of marginalized groups often present in social justice work.

Nominations open

Finally, a quick reminder that nominations for the 2021 Willard Wilson Distinguished Service Award and the Award for Excellence in Building and Grounds Maintenance closes next Friday, June 25. The eligibility, criteria and nomination form can be found at: Willard Wilson Distinguished Service Award and President’s Award for Excellence in Building and Grounds Maintenance.

Have a great week, and I hope you take some well-deserved time off for yourself.



June 7, 2021 

Aloha Kākou,

I hope everyone has been enjoying the sunny weather of late and is taking the opportunity to plan and take some time off now that travel restrictions are beginning to loosen.

Here are some updates for this week:

Updated COVID guidelines

Updated COVID guidelines are being drafted at the UH System level. As you might imagine, with the rapid changes, it has been difficult to keep the draft up to date. We expect an update to be circulated to unions in the near future and then released to the campuses. We are also working on updating our campus-specific guidelines, which we will issue once the UH System issues the general update.

Personal Travel no longer requires disclosure

With the changes in the state Safe Travels program, we will no longer require employees and students to disclose off-island travel. Please continue to take all precautions to keep yourself safe and healthy and get a vaccine if you have not already. In addition to helping keep our campus safe, the vaccine will facilitate travel both inter-island and out-of-state for anyone who wishes to go. University-funded travel will still require permission, as it is still subject to the budget freeze.

Currently, individuals fully vaccinated in the state of Hawai‘i may travel inter-county without pre-travel testing/quarantine starting the 15th day after the completion of their vaccination and after proof of vaccination has been uploaded to Safe Travels. Beginning June 15, travelers entering the state who have been vaccinated in Hawai‘i may bypass quarantine without a pre-travel test.

Professional Development Opportunity available

UH Hilo has secured an institutional membership in the Teaching and Learning Academy of the Gardener Institute. Long known for promoting excellence in first-year experience and student transitions, the Gardener Institute is now engaged in other aspects of teaching and learning and diversity. More information about the academy is available here.

Its signature course, “The Humanity of Inclusive Practices: Keep Walking,” starts next week. If you are interested in participating, please contact Jennifer Stotter.

Lastly, a quick reminder that this Friday is King Kamehameha Day. I hope everyone enjoys the long weekend!

Keep safe and well,



May 24, 2021

Aloha Kākou,

Welcome to summer! I hope everyone is making plans for some well deserved downtime this summer as we slowly emerge from the pandemic and restrictions begin to ease. I spent my first post-graduation week watching snippets of video feed and live stats from Athletics between meetings. Congratulations to our Vulcan teams, many of whom, despite the challenges of COVID-19, have had their best seasons in a decade this year!

I share with you the following updates for this week, with more to come as summer progresses. Information will be communicated through our weekly “Countdown to Fall 2021” messages, which will be sent every Monday at noon through August 16.

Reopening of UH campuses, telework policy ends August 3

Employees were notified by System HR last week of the following announcements, which demonstrate us returning to normal operations. Please keep in mind that these dates are still tentative as the various unions are consulted.

  • June 1, 2021: UH campuses to re-open to the public
  • July 6, 2021: Offices and buildings to resume full in-person operations and services, 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • August 3, 2021: Telework policy ends; all employees return to work settings

Summer Session I

Today marks the first day of Summer Session I! For a complete list of important dates pertaining to this term, please visit the Summer Session Academic Calendar. If there are any students who have not yet registered for any Summer Session courses, please encourage them to do so immediately. The deadline to register or add Summer Session I courses is tomorrow.

Strategic Planning

Don’t let the format and lovely graphics fool you. The strategic planning document that is currently circulating is a draft document. Based on hours of campus and community conversations, it includes our best attempts to encapsulate the big ideas and commitments that will guide our institution forward. Do you see things that are missing in this big picture view? Is there something that does not resonate? Please let us know by June 15.

Coming a bit later this summer will be the action plan, the drafting of which we do not want to complete until we know we have this first document right. I know many of you are far more interested in the strategies, tactics, and actions that will operationalize the goals, and we will get some suggestions of those to you soon, but in the meantime, if you have additional ideas you would like us to consider for the action plan, please let us know that, too, using this link.

Vaccine mandate

The UH System has received quite a bit of feedback on President Lassner’s message that we will be requiring the vaccine of students and, we hope, of employees when one of the vaccines is formally approved and no longer under emergency use authorization. The vast majority of the feedback we have received has been positive. Families are relieved that we are taking this step to help keep their student safe. Religious and health exemptions will be possible, and the system for applying for those is under development. In the meantime, please continue to follow the state and county mandates regarding masking and distancing, and we will keep you informed of new developments as we have them.

Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo has been selected as one of the 2021 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs by the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) College Student Educators International and Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. The award recognizes UH Hilo and 29 other schools across the country. Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs is a national recognition that celebrates student affairs workplaces that are vibrant, diverse, supportive and committed to staff work-life balance, professional development and inclusive excellence. UH Hilo also received this recognition in 2019.

Vice Chancellor Gomes shared the following with the award-granting organizations: “Now more than ever, the work of student affairs professionals is critical for providing the holistic support that students need to be successful in college. I am proud of our student affairs professionals for serving students in exceptional ways. These are the same professionals that contribute to the building of a welcoming, safe and inclusive foundation upon which students and staff will continue to thrive in. I have profound gratitude for all of our student affairs professionals who exude compassion and grace for our students while also demonstrating care for one another. There is no other group of professionals that I would choose to do this important work with.”

I hope to see many of you at our University Forum this afternoon at 2:00 p.m!



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