Skip to content →

Chancellor’s Weekly Messages on Countdown to Fall 2021

Update for June 14, 2021

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

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

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.



Update for 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 Kakou,

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!



Published in All Posts Remarks, Messages, & Writings