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Category: Remarks, Messages, & Writings

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column, Jan. 2019: Helping our island and state grow into the future

We at UH Hilo take seriously our kuleana to help provide the workforce for new growth sectors in our economy, the scientific experts to help conserve the precious environment of our island and state, and the technological resources necessary for our communities to meet unexpected crises.

By Marcia Sakai

Marcia Sakai
Marcia Sakai

Aloha and Happy New Year!

I look forward to the coming year as progress and growth continues at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. I’d like to focus this month’s column on a major goal of the university: to strengthen UH Hilo’s impact on the community, island, and state through responsive higher education, community partnerships, and knowledge and technology transfer.

Responsive higher education

The new building to house the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy is well on its way to completion in July. The modern classrooms, offices, student services, and laboratories will answer the great need for state-of-the-art facilities to train the pharmacists who will serve communities in our state and region.

New building to house the UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, under construction, Dec. 11, 2018. Photo by Tracy Niimi.

Last month, our new bachelor of science in aeronautical sciences program was approved by the UH Board of Regents. There are two tracks: one in commercial professional pilot training and the other in commercial aerial information technology (drones)—both are projected workforce needs in the state. The pilot training track is cost effective compared to mainland programs. The drone track trains students for growing career opportunities in agriculture, natural resource management, search and rescue, security services, and expected air transport services.

UH Hilo launched its long-planned data science program this past fall by offering a certificate in the fast-growing field. The program is filling a need in the state because almost every branch of science collects massive amounts of data, but there are not a lot of trained people able to analyze that data and make conclusions—for example, here on our island, there is a great need in conservation efforts, water resource management, and climate change research.

Partnerships

Partnerships are key to conducting effective scientific inquiry into 21st century challenges. Here is an example in the field of conservation biology, specifically research to save the endangered ‘alalā (Hawaiian crow) from extinction.

alala
One of the recently released ʻalalā. Photo San Diego Zoo Global.

In collaboration with a Silicon Valley company that provides sophisticated genomic analysis systems, geneticists at UH Hilo and San Diego Zoo Global have fully sequenced the genome of the endangered ‘alalā. Once reduced to a population of about 20 birds, the sequencing of the species’ genome will be important to track any genetic challenges that may occur due to the reduced genetic diversity now seen in the species. This is an extremely important contribution to conservation genetics. The genome assembly is now publicly available.

Currently, the UH Hilo geneticists are collaborating with researchers from California, New Zealand, and Australia to do a genetics study addressing the hatching failure of the ‘alalā and the endangered kākāpō of New Zealand.

Another research team, this one from the UH Hilo Bioacoustics Lab, recently received a $50,000 award from the Disney Conservation Fund to work in collaboration with the ʻAlalā Project, a partnership between the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, San Diego Zoo Global, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to find out if captively reared ‘alalā are developing new vocalizations as they adapt to new situations encountered in the wild. This information will greatly assist in the conservation efforts of ʻalalā.

Knowledge and technology transfer

UH Hilo’s response to the recent lava flow in Puna is a good example of the university sharing its expert knowledge and technology resources for the benefit of our local communities.

As the lava threatened vulnerable communities, Hawai‘i County Civil Defense reached out to UH Hilo’s experts in drone technology to do high-resolution mapping of the flow areas. Government responders needed to pinpoint exact locations of the advancing lava, and the UH Hilo drone team was able to capture overhead shots, and then quickly relay that information to Civil Defense.

Another research team from UH Hilo conducted real-time chemistry analysis of lava samples that helped determine how the lava would behave and how fast it would move. The data provided critical information to the U.S. Geological Survey scientists responding to the natural disaster. The samples were collected daily from the flows, bagged and dated, and brought back to the Hilo campus for analysis. It was the first time scientists looked at the chemistry at the same time the volcano was erupting.

Yet another research team provided precise leveling of the ground around the Puna power plant to detect whether the surface was rising due to the flow of magma beneath the surface. The monitoring would alert officials if the facility was about to be compromised.

The longer-term scientific value of the data collected by these research teams helps government officials better understand these types of eruptions so that responders can do an even better job of predicting in the future.

Thinking ahead

We at UH Hilo take seriously our kuleana to help provide the workforce for new growth sectors in our economy, the scientific experts to help conserve the precious environment of our island and state, and the technological resources necessary for our communities to meet unexpected crises. By working together with our local communities and in collaboration with myriad partners, we help improve the quality of life for everyone.

Wishing you a happy and productive 2019!

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor

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Message from the Interim Chancellor to UH Hilo Community: It’s been a wonderful semester, filled with accomplishments

Above photo: Happy customers at the sold-out annual poinsettia plant sale, Campus Center Plaza, UH Hilo. The plants are grown by students of the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management. Nov. 28, 2018. Photo by Raiatea Arcuri.

A message from Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai to the UH Hilo community:

As we start the holiday season, I reflect on the amazing and talented people who are part of our university ‘ohana, and I’d like to share with you some of the accomplishments of the past semester.

Incoming Freshman Class, August 2018.

We started our new academic year with The Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2018 Almanac ranking the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo as the most diverse four-year public university in the United States. The cultural and ethnic diversity found in our university ‘ohana strengthens everything we do in teaching, research, and outreach, and prepares our students to be productive citizens in the real world.

Two student playing pick up ball.
Students play at the renovated court.

We also started the semester with two new outdoor gathering spaces for our students: a newly renovated basketball court behind Auxiliary Services complete with a grill and several covered picnic tables with solar powered e-recharging stations, and covered solar recharging stations outside the Student Services building. The new spaces, complete USB charging ports and Wi-Fi access, were built through a great collaborative project with students from the carpentry program at Hawai‘i Community College.

Jolene Sutton
Jolene Sutton

A team of our genetic researchers studying the ‘alalā (Hawaiian crow), led by biologist Jolene Sutton, published their work describing the high-quality reference genome that was generated to assist recovery efforts for the endangered bird. Researchers Martin Helmkampf  and Renee Bellinger, along with collaborators from the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program, San Diego Zoo Global, and Pacific Biosciences, all contributed to the project. This is an extremely important contribution to the world of conservation genetics. The genome assembly is now publicly available.

Geneviève Blanchet
Geneviève Blanchet

And our conservation biology students also made headlines. A group of our graduate students in the tropical conservation biology and environmental science program presented their work at the 25th Annual Hawai‘i Conservation Conference held in Honolulu. Two of the students came home with honorsGeneviève Blanchet was awarded Outstanding Graduate Student Oral Presentation, and Koa Matsuoka was awarded Runner-Up for Outstanding Graduate Poster Presentation.

Makalapua Alencastre, Roxanne DeLille, Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa, Noelani Iokepa-Guerrero, Kananinohea Mākaʻimoku, Ray Barnhardt, Walter Kahumoku III, Kamehaʻililani Waiau, Keane Nakapueo-Garcia, and Sylvia Hussey,
UH Hilo group at Sami University of Applied Sciences, Norway, for accreditation recognition from the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium.

The Kahuawaiola Indigenous Teacher Education Program received accreditation. The UH Hilo graduate certificate program is the first teacher education program in the world to receive accreditation from the prestigious international authority, the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium. The consortium also renewed accreditation for the UH Hilo Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa, director of the college, and all faculty and staff of the college are to be congratulated for their hard work in making UH Hilo’s language and culture revitalization program a model for the world to follow.

Students in computer lab.
Pierre Martin (right), associate professor of astronomy and observatory director, with students in the upgraded computer lab.

Students and researchers in the physics and astronomy program celebrated the installation of 12 brand new high-end desktops and monitors, along with a new data processing and storage Linux computer system, thanks to a generous donation by the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory. The TMT gift totaled over $28,000 in equipment, supporting the replacement of 10 aged computers purchased in 2010 that no longer met department needs.

UH Hilo launched its long-planned data science program this fall by offering a certificate in the fast growing field. Program Director Roberto Pelayo says the program is filling a need in the state because almost every branch of science collects massive amounts of data, but there are not a lot of trained people able to analyze that data and make conclusions—for example, here on our island, in conservation efforts, water resource management, and climate change impacts. The data science certificate is open to all students, regardless of major or background. Computer scientist Travis Mandel, mathematician Grady Weyenberg, and colleagues across many branches of science put in untold hours to create this new data science program.

Two people with drone landed on lawn.
UH Hilo drone team took a lead role in collecting data during the recent lava flow in Puna. Photo via UH System News.

Last month, a new aeronautical sciences degree program was approved by the UH Board of Regents. The provisional bachelor of science program has two concentrations: one in commercial professional pilot training, and another in commercial aerial information technology (which utilizes drones), where there is a high projected workforce need in the state. Ken Hon, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, and Bruce Mathews, dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management where the program is housed, achieved a major milestone in bringing the program to life.

Marcia Sakai
Marcia Sakai

These are just a few of the exciting accomplishments of the semester that provide positive learning experiences for our students, conduct important research for our environment and communities, and expand outreach to improve the quality of life for everyone. Mahalo to all of you for your contributions.

Sending aloha to you this holiday season.

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor

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Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column, Dec. 2018: Preparing students for the future through applied learning

Through applied learning in research, internships, and creative endeavors, students enhance their classroom learning and get a big boost toward advanced degrees, future employment, and leadership roles in their professions and their communities.

By Marcia Sakai.

Marcia Sakai
Marcia Sakai

Every student at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is offered the opportunity to apply their textbook knowledge to the real world through research, internships, creative endeavors, student employment and more. Through this type of scholarly work, students enhance their classroom learning and get a big boost toward advanced degrees, future employment, and leadership roles in their professions and their communities.

I would like to share with you three of our student research programs and a few extraordinary students doing important research and inquiry of great benefit to the people of our state and the island environment. These accomplished students—and many others in these and other programs, too many to name here in this column—are already contributing in positive ways to the problems facing our island state.

Students of Hawaiʻi Advanced Research Program (SHARP)

SHARP is a relatively new program, largely supporting under-represented students, particularly Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, who would like to do research in preparation for doctoral studies. The students are mentored by expert faculty researchers to develop interest and competence in biomedical and behavioral sciences research. The program is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) and is administered through the UH Hilo Department of Anthropology.

Six SHARP students showcased their research at the 2nd Annual SHARP Symposium held on campus in August. Five of the students are undergraduates and one is in a doctoral program at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. The students worked with faculty researchers to develop their topics and learn skills to conduct their research.

Undergraduates Duke Escobar (biology major) and Kieran-Tiaye Long (psychology) are investigating the anti-bacterial efficacy of native Hawaiian plant-based medicines. Dallas Freitas (chemistry) is researching key mechanisms of ion channel signaling in cancer drug resistance and the tumor microenvironment.

Duke Escobar points to his poster project.
Duke Escobar presents his research at the 2nd Annual SHARP Symposium, Aug.31, 2018, UH Hilo. Courtesy photo from SHARP, click to enlarge.

Jasmine Hicking (biology) is researching medicinal plants, specifically anti-cancer and anti-bacterial agents from microorganisms and herbal medicine. Skyla Lee (chemistry-bioscience) is doing research on synthesis and evaluation of antibacterial and anti-cancer agents in natural products. Doctoral student Nathan Sunada (pharmaceutical sciences) is investigating neuroblastoma and the mechanisms that promote cancer progression through a native Hawaiian perspective.

Keaholoa STEM Program

The goal of Keaholoa is to increase enrollment, support, and graduation rates of Native Hawaiians and other underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the STEM disciplines. Over the years, Keaholoa has become a program where minority students can engage in scientifically rigorous research that is grounded in indigenous or native cultural practices and knowledge.

For example, anthropology student Rosa Motta has compiled water property data from nearshore marine environments using historical land use patterns and archaeological sites to determine the health of coastlines in terms of the ʻāina-kai (land-ocean) relationship. Physics major Gabriel Gutierrez mapped coral reef health using traditional Hawaiian canoes. Environmental science major Jowell Guerreiro is interested in restoring loko i‘a (fishponds) and collected data on flow rates during specific moon phases.

Marine Option Program (MOP)

MOP is a UH systemwide certificate program, offered on all UH campuses, providing educational opportunities for students from all disciplines who are interested in studying the ocean.

Earlier this year, three students from UH Hilo MOP came home with awards from the statewide MOP Student Symposium held at Windward Community College. The annual event features oral and poster presentations by undergraduate MOP students from UH campuses around the state. Our students were outstanding representatives of UH Hilo, and brought home major awards, including best research presentation, which has been won by UH Hilo MOP students in 24 of the past 29 years.

Gina Selig, Andrea Ehlers, Wheatley Crawley, Michelle Nason, Julia Stewart, and Nikola Rodriguez.
UH Hilo delegation to the Marine Option Program Student Symposium held April 21 at Windward Community College. (l-r) Gina Selig, Andrea Ehlers, Wheatley Crawley, Michelle Nason, Julia Stewart, and Nikola Rodriguez. Courtesy photo.

Julia Stewart won best research presentation for her research project on coral, an ambitious project using bioinformatics. Wheatley Crawley won best poster presentation for her project on conservation at Wai‘opae, one of the last research projects at the teeming tidepools before the recent lava flow tragically covered the area. Michelle Nason won the John P. Craven Child of the Sea award for her work establishing a coral nursery on Hawai‘i Island.

Budding scholars, future leaders

Many UH Hilo graduates have benefited greatly from our various applied learning programs. When they move on to graduate school, doctoral programs, or professional positions, they are already well-skilled in doing sustainability, conservation, health, community-based research projects and more that make an impact.

As we prepare for the close of the semester and Fall Commencement, I’d like to congratulate the graduating class, wish each student great success, and thank everyone for your contributions to UH Hilo, our students, and our community.

Sending aloha to you and your families this holiday season!

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

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UH Hilo Enrollment Management Report presented to the UH Board of Regents

Marcia Sakai
Marcia Sakai

University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai presented the UH Hilo Enrollment Management Report to the UH Board of Regents on Nov. 1, 2018, at the UH Mānoa campus.

Here is the text of her PowerPoint presentation to the BOR.

2018-2019 Action Strategies for Enrollment Growth

  • Strategic use of financial aid
  • Digital communication (email, web, texting, social media)
  • UH community college Transfer Events
  • UH common general education core
  • Living Learning Communities
  • ‘Opihi Student Success retention activity branding
  • Mentor Collective peer mentoring program
  • My Success early alert system

Campus Enrollment Targets, 2018-2019 to 2020-2021

Measure Historical Enrollment Count Targeted Enrollment Count
Fall 2015 Fall 2016 Fall 2017 Fall 2018

(Planned)

Fall 2018

(Actual)

Total Enrollment 3,829 3,666 3,539 3,613 3,406
Percentage Change Total -2.4% -4.3% -3.5% 2.1% -3.8%
1 First-time Freshmen Total 385 368 413 436 413
Percentage Change FTF -10.9% -4.4% 12.2% 5.6% 0.0%
1a     Hawai‘i Island High Schools 164 160 166 172 182
1b     O‘ahu High Schools 58 57 72 74 71
1c     Maui and Kaua’i High Schools 32 33 30 34 20
1d     Mainland (1*) 97 77 114 124 103
2 Transfer Total 408 397 371 371 337
Percentage Change Transfer -6.7% -4.9% -7.0% 0.0% -9.2%
2a     Hawai‘i Community College 126 147 115 114 105
2b     Other UHCC 57 45 51 50 48
3 Continuing (Retention Rate Increase) (2*) 2,135 1,979 1,873 1,880 1,853
3a     First-time Freshmen Retained (3*) 272 271 248 289 270
Retention Rates 63.2% 70.2% 68.3% 70.0% 66.0%
3b     Transfer Retained3 285 277 276 246 247

*1 Includes U.S. Military.
*2 Increase of #.# percentage points to the retention rate in the second fall semester of enrollment, decaying by 0.1 percentage point through fall 12.
*3 Corrected.

2018 Assessment

  • Increased applications and acceptances
  • First-time freshmen enrollment sustains increase in prior year
  • Fewer transfer students enrolled than targeted
  • Increased Hawai’i island and resident enrollment; decreased non-resident enrollment
  • Lower retention rates for first time freshmen and first time transfer students
  • Improved persistence for continuing students
  • Continued high FAFSA completions

2018 Assessment

Financial Aid TV’s Get Answers 

  • Total of 961 videos watched March to September 2018, video viewership highest on Saturday and most videos viewed between 6:00pm to 11:00pm

EAB/Royall Decision IQ campaign 

  • Up to 7 messages delivered to 800+ accepted freshmen on decision to enroll

Geo-fenced mobile advertising 

  • 700,000+ impressions, 8 UHCC campuses, nearly 4000 “click-thrus” to university website and ‘apply’ page

Texting campaign 

  • Up to 12 messages, thousands of individual messages, delivered to 1200+ accepted freshmen and transfer students

‘Opihi Student Success – Tailored communication for continuing and stopped out students

  • 2529 registered seniors, juniors, and sophomores contacted Spr 2018, average 86.6% across all 4 colleges registered for Fall 2018
  • 421 students stopped out AY 16-17 contacted, 37 (8.8%) registered to re-enroll for Fall 2018;
  • 13 students graduate through petition to modify graduation requirements

Mentor Collective peer mentor program 

  • 89.3% of 93 new students matched with mentor, total 427 hours engagement Spr 2018

MySuccess early alert system 

  • 6 Math & English courses, 1 Chemistry section, coordinated outreach with 5 student support program; 594 issues identified, 79% resolved timely, 59 flags raised, 86% cleared

Campus Enrollment Targets 2019-20 to 2021-22

Measure Historical Enrollment Count Targeted Enrollment Count
Fall 2016 Fall 2017 Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Fall 2020 Fall 2021
Total Enrollment 3,666 3,539 3,406 3,520 3,634 3,781
Percentage Change Total -4.3% -3.5% -3.8% 3.3% 3.0% 4.3%
1 First-time Freshmen Total (1*) 368 413 413 460 505 550
Percentage Change FTF -4.4% 12.2% 0.0% 11.4% 9.8% 8.9%
1a     Hawai‘i Island Direct Entrants (2*) 160 166 182 200 215 230
1b     O‘ahu Direct Entrants 57 72 71 80 90 95
1c     Maui County and Kaua‘i Direct Entrants 33 30 20 30 35 40
1d     Mainland 77 114 103 150 165 185
2 Transfer Total (1*) 397 371 337 375 390 405
Percentage Change Transfer -2.7% -6.5% -9.2% 11.3% 4.0% 3.8%
2a     Hawai‘i Community College 144 114 105 125 130 135
2b     Other UH Community College 45 50 40 55 55 60
3 Continuing / Returning (3*) 2,058 1,927 1,853 1,872 1,927 2,079
3a     First-time Freshmen Retained (4*) 271 248 270 281 317 354
Retention Rate – First-Time, Full-Time 70.9% 68.2% 66.0% 68.0% 69.0% 70.0%
3b     Transfer Retained (4*) 277 276 247 246 277 292
3c Retention Rate – Full-Time 72.1% 75.4% 70.4% 72.9% 73.9% 74.9%

*1 Data from UH IRAO Tracking system – numbers will not tie to other sources.
*2 Direct entrants are students who enrolled in college directly from high school without delay after high school graduation.
*3 Data from IRO Base, Census; includes classified undergraduate students only.
*4 First-time freshmen and transfers retained from prior fall semester tracking cohorts.

2019-2020 Action Strategies for Enrollment Growth

  • EAB/Royall Strategic Search for prospective high school students
  • Strategic use of financial aid
  • Digital communication for prospective and continuing students
  • 2+2 pathways for UH community college transfer students
  • Entry and first year services for transfer students
  • Completion of English and math in 1st year
  • Career pathway major choice, career exploration, employment advising
  • Service learning/community engagement connections
  • Distance learning capacity for select majors

 

More information and documents are on the UH Hilo Enrollment Management website.

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