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Category: Remarks & Writings

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: Helping UH Hilo campus and local communities during Kīlauea eruption

Throughout this eruption, our campus and local communities have shown once again that we are sustained and made stronger by the spirit of caring for one another.

UH Hilo seal, red lettering University of Hawaii and the state motto.The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is closely monitoring the current Kīlauea eruption and giving assistance to our students, faculty and staff who are affected. No other campus in the country deals with the wide range of natural challenges that we have here on Hawai‘i Island, and the university ‘ohana is meeting the challenge this summer—we are doing what we can to help our campus and local communities..

Support for campus community

UH Hilo classes and operations are continuing as usual this summer and into the fall semester. Since the onset of the eruption in May, a high priority has been outreach to students who are directly impacted. We continue to provide emergency housing for students who are displaced by the lava flows and we are looking at options for extending some level of emergency housing for students into the fall semester.

Information is available in myriad ways to provide all students and their parents, faculty and staff with support through campus and community resources.

For example, we regularly update the 2018 Puna Lava Flow website with information for our university ‘ohana such as recent messages from the Office of the Chancellor, FAQs, information on housing, safety, wellness resources, contact information, and more.

Farrah Marie Gomes
Farrah-Marie Gomes

The Division of Student Affairs has increased outreach to prospective, new and current students through email, phone, and social media. Our Counseling Services are available for assistance with counseling, consulting, and outreach to help students find appropriate resources.

Our Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Farrah-Marie Gomes is personally available as the point of contact for student inquiries relating to housing, food, transportation, counseling or other needs.

Community outreach

On another front, UH Hilo is directly involved in the emergency response efforts by providing a safe haven for agencies and organizations directly involved in monitoring the eruption and supporting the many individuals and families impacted.

The Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory, previously located in Volcanoes National Park, which is now closed due to the eruption, has moved their operation and staff to the UH Hilo campus. This includes personnel from the U.S. Geological Survey that were sent to Hawaiʻi to respond to the eruption. USGS is the source of information for county and state emergency officials when it comes to volcanic and earthquake hazards.

Red Cross worker at lava flow
Red Cross worker at lava eruption.

We also are hosting the American Red Cross Hawai‘i Chapter operation headquarters for disaster response. Red Cross, along with Hawai‘i County partners, are supporting the shelters and have distributed thousands of necessary items and are working with the Salvation Army to provide meals. Additionally, trained Red Cross nurses and mental health volunteers are staffing the shelters and have provided health and mental health services to those in need.

Data collection

In addition to these support systems set up on campus, UH Hilo is playing a vital role in the emergency response to this historic volcanic eruption. UH Hilo professors, scientists and students are providing valuable expertise and resources on multiple fronts, helping government officials assess the hazards to personnel and the public, and decide where and how to respond.

Scientist examining lava sample.
UH Hilo scientist examines lava sample.

One team of UH Hilo scientists is collecting visual data of the lava flows via drones. Another team is collecting daily samples of lava, doing lab analysis, and getting the information back to USGS within hours. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for UH Hilo undergraduate students who are testing the lava samples.

UH Hilo also is providing another vital resource to USGS—highly qualified employees. Three recent graduates of UH Hilo are among the two dozen USGS personnel working around the clock to gather and analyze up-to-the-minute information on the eruption and lava flows.

Stay informed

I encourage everyone on our island affected by the eruption or other natural disasters to review their personal preparations and emergency plans. Always listen to the latest County Civil Defense messages on the radio and TV, visit the CD website daily, and follow the instructions. The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website is the best resource for daily eruption updates.

Throughout this eruption, our campus and local communities have shown once again that we are sustained and made stronger by the spirit of caring for one another. We are going through this emergency together, supporting each other through crisis, recovery and eventual reconstruction—this serves as a model for communities throughout the world dealing with disaster response. UH Hilo is committed to its role in this important work.

Stay safe.

Marcia Sakai

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: Update on Enrollment

The purpose of new activity in enrollment management is for Hawai‘i Island’s college bound students to have access to higher education options on our island and to be successful in their academic endeavors.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo community has been hard at work this past year with new programs in recruiting, retaining, and graduating our students. Along with the other UH System campuses, we’ve developed a five-year enrollment plan that captures the complete enrollment cycle of students: recruitment, initial enrollment, first year retention, graduation or transfer, and ultimately active alumni.

We’re taking an action oriented approach that recognizes the many factors that contribute to a higher education organization that functions well for student success, from enhanced fiscal management, human resources, student services, strategic planning, and technologies to policies, procedures, academic offerings, marketing, and alumni relations. The entire university community is all-in on this effort.

Recruitment

Snip of UH Hilo Facebook page with aerial photo of campus, UH Hilo logo, Facebook logo.
UH Hilo is communicating opportunities to students of the 21st century with tools of the 21st century, e.g. more focus on social media.

Our connection with prospective students focuses on communicating about our unique academic and cultural setting, the quality of our academic and research experiences, and our commitment to access to higher education and student success.

UH Hilo is communicating these opportunities to students of the 21st century with tools of the 21st century. There is more focus on social media and texting, reducing barriers that students face between application and registration, and helping students navigate the new online registration system.

Among the many new activities is outreach at high schools that includes workshops and Prep Days on Hawai‘i Island and O‘ahu where students can meet with advising counselors to receive personal attention with class registration. Workshops and Prep Days this past spring semester have the potential of yielding $600 thousand in tuition revenue. Hawai‘i Island’s next Prep Day is June 15.

Retention

Web snip with the words: Advising Center, Sta On Track
Advising to freshmen is mandatory, and students are required to declare a major after 60 credits.

We’ve also ramped up communication with current students.

We practice early outreach to students through the introductory course University 101 and the peer tutoring program in key first year courses. We extend outreach to all sophomores, juniors, and seniors with reminders about advising, registration, deadlines, and holds that would prevent registration. Individual students on academic warning and probation are advised to connect with support programs.

Student success online workshops are available starting June 1.

Financial Aid has increased its communication to students through weekly emails about requirements and deadlines, and notifications regarding their financial aid academic progress status.
Strengthening our advising programs across campus is a best practice that will make a great impact on retention. Advising to freshmen is mandatory, and students are required to declare a major after 60 credits. Select departments are conducting their own advising, some using peer mentors; we now have dedicated academic advisors and peer advisors in psychology, kinesiology, pre-nursing, and marine science. Last semester, 83 students spent a total of 427 hours with mentors. We are currently in the process of reviewing the matching of students and mentors for fall 2018 registration.

Graduation

Group of students sitting together watching poi pounding demonstration.
One of the most successful retention programs through graduation is the living-learning communities program. Above is a Hawaiian Language and Culture cohort from a previous semester.

To help our students persist to graduation, several of our colleges are streamlining curricula. One of our colleges is connecting students with career mentors from the local community. Another is allowing reasonable academic modifications to major requirements in order to graduate students in a timely manner. There are new tracks to accommodate students that provide alternatives to entry into selective baccalaureate programs.

We have a new curriculum and catalog coordinator who is working with faculty to work out glitches as everyone transitions to the new registration software.

One of the most successful programs is our living-learning communities program, where students are grouped in cohorts according to major and interests. Students are housed together, forming close friendships and a strong support system to get them to the finish line. Research shows that students in living-learning communities are more likely to stay in college, earn a higher grade point average, and experience a greater degree of satisfaction with their overall college experience. All six communities at UH Hilo are on schedule for fall: business entrepreneurship, creative arts, environmental sustainability, Hawaiian language and culture, health and wellness, and natural sciences.

It takes a community

The purpose of this activity in enrollment management is for Hawai‘i Island’s college bound students to have access to higher education options on our island and to be successful in their academic endeavors.

We must all work together—our university community and our local island community—to be successful at these new directions in improving recruitment, retention and graduation. Together, we can 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

Message from Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai: Mahalo for pulling together, caring for our students

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

aerial view of campusI want to thank everyone for pulling together to support our students and one another over the last two weeks.

The Kilauea eruption has made what is already a busy time of year very challenging, and we are mindful of those in our UH Hilo ‘ohana and larger Hawai‘i Island community who are directly
affected.

Through this difficult time, all of you stepped up and proved once again that the foundation of this campus is truly driven by the spirit of caring for one another.

Now that we’ve made it through finals, we can look forward to tomorrow’s Commencement exercises to celebrate our graduates’ achievements.

Again, mahalo for all that you do, and I wish everyone the best for a safe and restful summer. I look forward to seeing you in the fall.

Marcia Sakai

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: Spring 2018: An exciting semester of positive learning experiences for our students and community

Here are a few of the exciting things happening at UH Hilo as we work together to provide positive learning experiences and support to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead.

As UH Hilo heads toward the end of the spring 2018 semester and commencement, I’d like to share a few highlights with you.

Student accomplishments

Earlier in the semester, three UH Hilo students each received a 2018 UH President’s Green Initiative Award recognizing their initiative, innovation, creativity and civic engagement in campus and community sustainability with cash prizes. Kasey Buchanan received the Johnson Controls Green Leader Award for a campus waste reduction project. Kara Spaulding received the HEI Charitable Foundation Green Leader Award for developing sustainability curriculum in the arts and perpetuating natural and cultural resources. Zoe Whitney received an honorable mention for producing a UH Hilo Carbon and Nitrogen Report Card.

Group of students stand with representative.
State Rep. Mark Nakashima (center) stands with UH Hilo HOSA delegates (l-r) Jeremy Villanueva, Lark Jason Canico, Kelly Gani, Leslie Arce, Travis Taylor, Sheldon Cabudol and Deserie Pagatpatan. Missing: Daniel Kimura, Kateleen Caye Bio and Kendrick Justin Dalmacio. Courtesy photo.

UH Hilo students excelled at the 13th Annual Health Occupation Students of America–Future Health Professionals State Leadership Conference held on O‘ahu in February. All 10 UH Hilo delegates competing at the conference placed in their events, with one team taking first place in their category. In the process, students honed public speaking and interpersonal communication skills, gained knowledge, and networked.

Three students from the Marine Options Program at UH Hilo came home in April with four awards from the statewide MOP Student Symposium held on O‘ahu. The annual event features oral and poster presentations by undergraduate students from around the state. This year’s UH Hilo winners: Wheatley Crawley for best poster presentation (conservation at Wai‘opae), Michelle Nason received the John P. Craven Child of the Sea award (project on a coral nursery), and Julia Stewart won best research project (coral research using bioinformatics) and the Ana Toy Ng MOP Memorial award (for contributions to MOP).

These accomplished students—and many others too many to name here in this column—are already contributing in positive ways to local and global communities. Their research, leadership, sustainability, conservation and community-based projects are making an impact. I look forward to seeing more of their academic accomplishments and their work in the world after graduation.

Community

Group with sign Blue Zones Project Approved, sponsor logos.
Group gathers at event celebrating Blue Zones Project Approved status.

In April, UH Hilo received official designation as a Blue Zones approved workplace. The Blue Zones project is a worldwide initiative to promote healthy living and long lives. UH Hilo now joins a number of businesses and organizations working together to transform Hilo into a Blue Zones community by adopting healthy practices. As an institution of higher learning, we are already well-versed in developing healthy minds. We can now look forward to taking that next step to promoting overall physical well-being. Activities on campus include walking groups, healthy cooking demonstrations, and many other wellness pursuits.

The iconic Hawaiian double-hulled sailing canoe, Hōkūle‘a, visited Hilo in April as part of its statewide “Mahalo Hawaiʻi Sail” as the crew expresses mahalo to numerous communities for their support of the three-year Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage from 2014 to 2017. UH Hilo co-hosted an educational expo in April at Wailoa Pier where hundreds of schoolchildren and others from the East Hawai‘i community enjoyed tours of the Hōkūle‘a and hands-on educational activities to showcase ocean navigation’s connection to science, math, culture and conservation (photos). We’re proud of our very own Pwo Navigator and Captain Kālepa Baybayan and the many other people from the UH Hilo ‘ohana who participated in the worldwide voyage and the recent expo.

Public tours of Hōkūle‘a. UH Hilo co-sponsored Educational Expo, Wailoa Pier, Hilo.

A panel discussion on incorporating Hawaiian cultural knowledge with modern western science to meet the sustainability challenges facing Hawai‘i today was held at UH Hilo in February. The discussion was part of the 6th Annual Hawai‘i Sustainability in Higher Education Summit held over the course of three days on Hawai‘i Island. Delegations from all 10 UH campuses gathered to learn from local practitioners, national experts, and each other, and to set the action agenda for upcoming campus initiatives.

Looking forward

On July 1st, the new College of Natural and Health Sciences will be established. It will house the current Division of Natural Sciences, School of Nursing, and Department of Kinesiology and Exercise Sciences. Jim Beets, professor of marine science and current chair of the Division of Natural Sciences, has agreed to serve as the interim dean of the new college. A national search for a permanent dean will soon be launched.

And we have a recent update from UH President David Lassner about the search for the next permanent UH Hilo chancellor, now expected to be completed by the end of 2018 with our new leader in place in spring 2019.

These are just a few of the exciting things happening at UH Hilo as we work together to provide positive learning experiences and support to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead. I wish you all a safe and wonderful summer.

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: Come celebrate Hōkūleʻa visiting Hilo this month

UH Hilo will be hosting a day-long event for Hōkūleʻa, the crew, and the local community on Saturday, April 21.

By Marcia Sakai.

The Hōkūleʻa is visiting Hawai‘i Island for a two-month stay that started in March. This is the voyaging canoe’s first visit to our island since embarking from Hilo in May 2014 for the three-year Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Hōkūleʻa and crew will be stopping at several ports on the island starting with Miloliʻi, then Kailua-Kona, Hilo, and Kawaihae before heading back to O‘ahu in May. The Hawaiʻi Island visit is an official stop on the “Hōkūleʻa Mahalo, Hawaiʻi Sail” trip throughout the islands as a way for the crew to say thank you for all the support shown by the people of Hawai‘i during the worldwide voyage.

The importance of Hōkūleʻa and the worldwide voyage is significant. The Hawaiian name for the voyage, Mālama Honua, means “to care for our Earth.” The purpose of the trip was to share with the world the understanding that our island chain teaches us that our natural world is in need of our stewardship if we are to survive together.

The University of Hawai‘i was the higher education partner in the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, with over 50 people from all 10 campuses directly involved, providing the manpower and resources to execute the voyage. Countless UH students, faculty, staff and alumni served during the three-year voyage in myriad ways, as volunteers, navigators, captains and scientific researchers.

We’re proud to be part of the worldwide voyage through the many people from the UH Hilo ‘ohana who participated. Master navigator Kālepa Baybayan, a UH Hilo alumnus and navigator in residence at ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, has been part of the Polynesian voyaging renaissance since 1975 at the age of 19, and served on the worldwide voyage as both crew and captain on various legs of the journey such as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, U.S. East Coast. Notably, he captained the Hōkūleʻa’s historic sail to Washington D.C.

Others from our ‘ohana, too, far too many to name here—Heinani Enos, a lecturer with Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, and Kaleo Pilago who at the time of his participation was a student development specialist at the Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center. All sailed on the voyage and then spent time with stakeholders from across the UH System to discuss next steps forward.

Celebrating Hōkūleʻa

UH Hilo shares in the vision of Mālama Honua—as an indigenous serving institution, we take our kuleana, our responsibility, to protect cultural and environmental resources for our children’s future, very seriously.

The voyage sought to engage all the world’s people to bridge traditional and new technologies to live sustainably. This is also a high priority of the UH System and UH Hilo in particular, and we share with Hōkūleʻa, the crew, and the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the connection and understanding of the important work being done here in the islands to care for Earth and our unique culture.

At each stop on our island this month, the crew of the Hōkūleʻa, including many from UH Hilo, will be giving presentations and talk story sessions, canoe tours, volunteer stewardship opportunities and other family-friendly events, all free to the public. The Polynesian Voyaging Society will also be hosting thousands of public and private school students with canoe visits and educational activities that highlight wayfinding and voyaging through the perspectives of math, science, conservation and culture.

In celebration of this shared vision for a sustainable future, UH Hilo will be hosting a day-long event for Hōkūleʻa, the crew, and the local community on Saturday, April 21. We anticipate a large turnout and hope to share with our local communities the importance of the Mālama Honua Voyage as well as the many related educational programs at UH Hilo. There will be exhibitions and informational displays and lots of hands-on activities and fun takeaways for the keiki.

There are a number of other events planned around the Hōkūleʻa visit to our island. One of these is a field trip of 200 students from Kaumana Elementary School who will visit the UH Hilo Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center in Keaukaha as part of a day-long educational event. The center will be giving the students and their teachers tours of the aquaculture research and educational facility, inspiring keiki to pursue science and dedicate their lives to the preservation of the ocean and our island home.

I hope you’ll join us on April 21 to welcome and celebrate the Hōkūleʻa and crew, as we honor them as cultural treasures and worldwide ambassadors of our island home.

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

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