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Category: Remarks & Writings

Message from the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs: New strategies gaining momentum

Across Student Affairs there is excellent work being done by all units and I’d like to recognize and thank all faculty and staff for their continued hard work and dedication to our students.

By Farrah-Marie Gomes, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Guest author for this month’s column.

Farrah Marie Gomes
Farrah-Marie Gomes

I am excited about the work that the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Division of Student Affairs has accomplished in the 10 months I have served as vice chancellor for student affairs. While the fall 2017 semester started only a few weeks ago and many units are busy helping students get settled into classes and activities, I’d like to share with you some of our recent successes.

Admissions

For the first time in four years, our admissions team was successful in recruiting the largest incoming class of students this semester. This was due in part to a 19 percent increase in first-time freshmen accepted to UH Hilo. As indicated in the UH System Enrollment Management Action Plan, two of our UH Hilo strategies include increasing enrollment of first-time students, especially on Hawai‘i Island, and increasing enrollment of transfer students, especially with UH community colleges.

To assist with these strategies, we will soon be searching for a Hawai‘i Island admissions counselor and plan to advertise for a transfer admissions counselor shortly thereafter.

Financial Aid

Refining our financial aid strategy is also included in the plan as a way of ensuring success of our students on their educational journey. This year, the Office of Financial Aid awarded more than $64 million in financial aid and last month unveiled a new micro-scholarship program to Hawai‘i Island high school counselors. This program will allow students, starting from their freshman year in high school, to earn funds toward a scholarship redeemable only upon enrollment at UH Hilo after graduation.

In addition to the financial benefit of micro-scholarships, we believe that by engaging with high school students earlier, they will be better prepared for their transition to college.

New Students

Realizing that the transition to college can be challenging for students, our New Student Programs made adjustments to New Student Orientation this summer. The most significant change was a reduction of the orientation fee, which likely contributed to almost 200 more registrations in this semester’s fall orientation.

Currently, New Student Programs is transitioning to a First-Year Experience Program. To assist with the retention of students in their first year at UH Hilo, transfer students will be provided with access to better coordinated transfer services and first-year students will be eligible to receive the support of a peer mentor through this new program.

Housing

Although there was an increase in the incoming class, UH Hilo experienced an overall decline in enrollment this semester. Despite this decline, there are 740 students living in our residence halls compared to 672 students last fall. This represents an all-time high for occupancy in UH Hilo housing since Hale ‘Alahonua was built in 2013, and is in part due to repricing approved by the Board of Regents in June that significantly reduced the rates for Hale ‘Alahonua by more than $700 each semester.

Living Learning Communities continue to be a highlight within the residence halls where a total of 113 freshmen have chosen a field of interest, are enrolled in a course together and go on off-campus trips that focus on cultural practices, community engagement, and service learning.

Mahalo

Across the rest of Student Affairs, there is excellent work being done by all units and I’d like to recognize and thank all faculty and staff for their continued hard work and dedication to our students. I look forward to many more accomplishments from our team in the future. The division will soon be embarking on reviewing our mission and vision statements as a way of ensuring that we continue to meaningfully contribute to the wonderful teaching and learning that takes place every day at UH Hilo.

Let’s journey on together!

Farrah-Marie Gomes

Message from the Interim Chancellor: UH Hilo is committed to free speech and expression

We ask that you join us in making this campus a place where our differences are bound within a framework of respect and aloha.

UH Hilo seal, red lettering University of Hawaii and the state motto.Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

Over the last year, and increasingly in recent months, incidents have occurred across the nation in which freedom of speech and the right of people to peaceably assemble have led to conflict, controversy, and in some cases, tragedy. We have also found that our community in Hilo is not immune to such events.

At the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo we take pride in our diverse campus community, and embrace those who come here to work, learn and grow. Universities are intended to be places where ideas and cultures intersect, and we strive to provide a place where this exchange can occur in a safe and productive environment. Yet, as we have seen with some recent demonstrations, beliefs can be in stark contrast.

Our administration has and will continue to respond to inquiries and reports relating to free speech and free expression. Our commitment to these freedoms are essential as we stand firm in our approach to respect the rights of students and staff as well as those choosing to demonstrate their various beliefs.

We expect that in the coming weeks and months issues may arise in which we as a community do not fully agree, and voices in opposition may ring loud. Our resolve to oppose hate and violence must be strong, and our strength comes from each of us. We ask that you join us in making this campus a place where our differences are bound within a framework of respect and aloha.

UH Hilo is here to support you with a variety of services for our students, faculty and staff. Should you need assistance, please reach out to campus support services.

Mahalo,

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor

Interim Chancellor’s Message: Update on enrollment management

We continue our enrollment management work with an integrated, strategic and holistic approach to student success that will reverse the decline and begin to rebuild enrollment.

By Marcia Sakai.

UH Hilo seal, red lettering University of Hawaii and the state motto.As part of a University of Hawai‘i systemwide initiative, UH Hilo is currently developing new ways to be more effective at recruitment, retention, and graduation. Each of the 10 campuses in the statewide UH system is developing their own five-year enrollment management plan specifically designed with appropriate goals for the individual campus.

The good news is that each year we are meeting our ever growing graduation performance targets (set by the UH System). Last year our goal was to graduate 926 students and we exceeded that with 955 students receiving degrees and/or certificates. But this success, while we are absolutely doing what we need to do, has a negative effect on enrollment.

While we at UH Hilo predict enrollment will continue to decline for fiscal year 2018 (on par with national trends), the drop should be smaller for the university than in previous years. Meanwhile we continue our enrollment management work with an integrated, strategic and holistic approach to student success that will reverse the decline and begin to rebuild enrollment.

Through careful planning and constant review and reevaluation of our progress, the campus is moving forward on several actions over the next year.

  • Place new admissions counselors for West Hawai‘i and transfer students as part of our redesigned marketing strategy and expanded recruitment on Hawai‘i Island. Expand counselor visits and open houses on neighbor islands, O‘ahu, and U.S. mainland.
  • Establish a Transfer Success Center as a one-stop service for advising, credit evaluation and engagement for incoming students.
  • Hire a First-Year Experience Director to expand our integrated programs aimed at increasing freshman retention from 71 percent to 75 percent by 2020. Our highly successful residential Living Learning Communities for first year students, with peer tutoring and residential programming, will be made a permanent part of offerings to incoming freshman.
  • Expand our successful peer mentoring programs to Marine Science with future programs in Biology and Health Sciences. These proven programs engage entering freshmen and transfer students in their first year, giving them a good academic start, especially in English and Mathematics.
  • Start the Starfish student success platform in spring 2018. Starfish is designed to identify students beginning to have academic difficulty through an early alert system, pinpointing areas of concern and connecting the students with appropriate services to stay on track to persist and graduate.

These actions illustrate a strategy in correcting declining enrollment through transitioning New Student Programs into First-Year Experience Programs. For example, by having upperclassmen in the majors serve as peer mentors, our campus goals are supported by 1) providing student employment income to upperclassmen, 2) providing peer support to underclassmen, 3) increasing retention and 4) increasing timely graduation.

Further, it’s important to note that despite decreased enrollment, our Orientation Program and Housing Program both have experienced increases this semester in their respective areas.

More students and their parents participated in this fall semester’s Orientation than last year. Orienting and engaging students early in their college experience contributes to first-year retention so we are very pleased to see this increase.

In Housing, 743 students are housed on campus so far this semester (as of Aug. 22) compared to 672 last year. Of those, 206 are housed in our new Hale ‘Alahonua residence hall compared to 148 last semester. In addition, there is a search in progress for an Associate Director for Residence Life position which will help to increase engagement of resident students.

At its core, all this activity in enrollment management is based on the foundational needs of Hawai‘i Island’s high school students and others to have options in accessing higher education on our island and to then to be successful in their academic endeavors—these are the guiding needs we are answering in these new directions in enrollment management.

We all need to work together—our internal university community and our local community at large—to plan for and implement these new directions in improving recruitment, retention and graduation. Together, we can work toward reversing the decline in enrollment and build a stronger, more accessible university for the people of our island, state and region.

For more information, visit our Enrollment Management website.

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai’s first monthly column: A time of change at UH Hilo

My role at this point in time is to be a steward of the process, and I embrace the responsibility—the kuleana—to create stability for our university community while we move forward together.

By Marcia Sakai.

I’m writing this column as I prepare to become interim chancellor of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo on Aug. 1. For those of you who don’t know me, I joined the UH Hilo faculty in 1991 in the field of economics becoming tenured and promoted to the top professor ranks over the years. I was the founding dean of UH Hilo’s College of Business and Economics in 2005, and have been vice chancellor for administrative affairs since 2011.

I begin my new work as interim chancellor during a time of much change at the university. Not only is there change in the Office of the Chancellor with former Chancellor Don Straney being reassigned to his new UH System leadership role as vice president of academic planning and policy, but there are also changes in other leadership positions at UH Hilo.

Professor of Geology Ken Hon is new interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, and we will soon have an interim vice chancellor for administrative affairs when I take leave from my current position. Professor of History Michael Bitter is now interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Economics Tam Vu is interim dean of the College of Business and Economics.

And there is even more change underway.

The university is developing a new Enrollment Management Plan that takes an integrated, strategic and holistic approach to student success.

We have a goal of returning our enrollment to 2010 levels by the year 2020 and are redeploying resources into a number of initiatives, such as strengthening and developing new student and residence life programming and creating pathways for transfer students from Hawai‘i.
This is part of a UH system-wide initiative to focus on our core education function and grow enrollment, even while the general national trend is for continued higher education enrollment decline. Each of the 10 campuses are developing their own enrollment management plans with specific goals.

And we are reorganizing the College of Arts and Sciences—our largest of five colleges—into two new college units. This will remove an administrative layer between the dean and the faculty to facilitate communication and active faculty engagement in retention activities. This year we will undertake process modifications for the two new colleges to make them fully functional. The overall goal is to foster student success and better use of resources.

This is a lot of change for any university community, but we have good people doing amazing things at UH Hilo (think teaching, research, community outreach). From this strong base, we can regain balance and shift our focus to getting our work done.

My role at this point in time is to be a steward of the process, and I embrace the responsibility—the kuleana—to create stability for our university community while we move forward together. Change creates opportunities and it creates challenges. My goal is to help our students, faculty, staff and other administrators see the opportunities and know they can continue to be productive and successful in their work.

UH Hilo is my home. And what I’ve grown to value most are people—our students, our university ‘ohana, and our greatest supporters, the people of our island. It is an honor and privilege to be entrusted with the responsibility to serve as UH Hilo’s steward and leader. I look forward to working with both the university community and our island community to create a more responsive and more accessible university for the people of our island and state.

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

Message from Chancellor Straney: I am stepping down as chancellor of UH Hilo

Though I will be working for the UH System, please know that my commitment to and appreciation of UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Island remain strong.

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

It has been my great honor to have served as chancellor for this campus for the past seven years. I am stepping down as chancellor of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo effective August 1, 2017, and will be taking a position at the University of Hawai‘i System as vice president of academic planning and policy, subject to Board of Regents approval. An open search for our next permanent chancellor will begin in fall 2017.

Marcia Sakai
Marcia Sakai

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Marcia Sakai will be appointed interim chancellor of UH Hilo by UH President David Lassner, subject to Board of Regents approval. Dr. Sakai joined the UH Hilo faculty in 1991. She was the founding dean of the College of Business and Economics, leading the college through its initial AACSB accreditation which made UH Hilo’s CoBE just one of 579 institutions worldwide, at that time, with such accreditation. She brought her experience and ability to bear in serving as vice chancellor for administrative affairs since 2011. She is eminently qualified to lead our campus during this interim period, and I ask everyone to support her and to continue to do the great work that you are doing day in and day out.

After seven years at UH Hilo, please know that this was an extremely difficult decision. My time here in Hilo has been such a rewarding professional experience. UH Hilo is an amazing institution that provides invaluable service to our community, our island, our state and beyond. The campus welcomed me with open arms and I enjoyed remarkable warmth and acceptance from total strangers, who quickly became great friends. The aloha spirit is real and it is alive and well on our island.

Though I will be working for the UH System, please know that my commitment to and appreciation of UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Island remain strong.

It was my privilege to serve in this special place, with so many dedicated and passionate faculty and staff. I want to thank each and every one of you for your commitment to our campus and community.

Mahalo nui loa for your years of support,

Don Straney

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