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Category: Remarks, Messages, & Writings

Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: December 2011

Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce
December 2011

Donations for scholarships are a sound investment in the future of our island

In the face of an uncertain economy, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo enrolled the largest number of students in our history this past fall. This demand for our programs tells us that access to higher education is more valued than ever before. We have had to tighten our budget significantly this year, but private support from donors is providing a critical margin of excellence and ensuring that our students are continuously challenged to reach their highest level of achievement.

In my column last month, I told you about a report by Complete College America stating that by 2020, 68% of jobs in Hawai‘i will require a career certificate or college degree, but currently only 41% of adults have a college degree. The gap: 27%. For a strong economy, the report states, the skills gap must be closed. We simply will not have enough skilled workers to meet the needs of our economy unless many more college and university students graduate. One way to address this challenge is through scholarships.

UH Hilo offers many opportunities to establish undergraduate scholarships to ensure that every young person on our island has access to higher education. Individuals and organizations donate funds to UH Hilo for scholarships because they see it as an investment in the future: scholarships enable more students to prepare to enter the workforce.

This year, UH Hilo students are benefiting from the largest amount of private scholarship support in the history of this institution. In fiscal year 2011, UH Hilo raised $1,618,148, the largest number of private scholarship dollars in history. Between 2000 and 2011, UH Hilo’s scholarship endowment grew from $942,000 to $3.4 million. Two weeks ago we received $27,000 from the Order of the Eastern Star, the largest fraternal organization that both women and men may join.

At least 70 percent of UH Hilo’s 4,000+ students depend on some form of financial aid to fund the cost of attending the university. For first year students at UH Hilo, the percentage is even higher: 75 percent of freshmen are receiving financial aid. In fact, UH Hilo has the highest percentage of students receiving aid of any of the 10 campuses in the UH System. The UH Hilo Financial Aid office receives almost 7,000 applications for financial aid and awards over $42 million in support to students annually. Private scholarships account for about 1% of this aid, or $450,000. Most students put together funds from many different sources in order to pay for their education, starting with support from families or personal savings, plus federal Pell Grants, federal work-study funds, student loans, and one or more private scholarships.

Almost 42% of UH Hilo students qualify for Pell grants, the federal aid reserved for students with the highest financial need. This academic year, for the first time in history, the maximum Pell grant failed to meet the full cost of resident tuition at UH Hilo.

It’s clear what a vitally important role our private donors play in ensuring the academic success of our students; scholarships support students to complete their education and contribute to their communities. Behind every scholarship there is an individual or a company that has a connection to UH Hilo and a desire to help our students. On behalf of the university community, I’d like to take this opportunity to express gratitude to our donors. I hope that all members of the Chamber will be inspired and motivated to make an investment in the future of our island by funding a scholarship.

Don Straney

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Column by the Chancellor in UH Hilo’s Newsletter: Ka Lono Hanakahi, December 2011

Message from University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Ka Lono Hanakahi, UH Hilo’s Faculty and Staff Newsletter 
December 2011 

As we finish up the fall semester and prepare for winter break, I want to extend my deepest appreciation for all your hard work during a busy and challenging year. Thank you for your dedication to our students, to our university community, and to our Big Island community.

I want to especially thank all of you for working together on the budget challenges. In the face of an uncertain economy, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo enrolled the largest number of students in history this fall. This demand for our programs tells us that access to higher education is more valued than ever before. UH Hilo faculty, staff, and students have worked very well together as an ‘ohana and as a result, despite great challenges, we have protected the instructional core of the campus and direct services to our students. I fully understand that this came at great sacrifice to many of you. I’ve learned a lot from you about the Hawaiian value of lokahi and about working together collaboratively in the spirit of unity.

While the nation faces difficult times, we are all so lucky to live and work in such a beautiful and vibrant place. I am proud of what our students are accomplishing. I’m in awe of the high caliber of teaching, research and outreach done by our faculty; our students and our surrounding community all benefit from the excellent work done by our faculty. Our staff is second to none for professionalism in support of our entire campus. From my perspective—a bird’s eye view of our entire ‘ohana—UH Hilo is an incredibly strong university and I am proud to be part of it.

Our local community has also shown great support and generosity this past year to help us achieve our goals. Private support from donors is providing a critical margin of excellence and ensuring that our faculty members continue to challenge students to reach their highest level of achievement. This year, UH Hilo students are benefiting from the largest amount of private scholarship support in the history of this institution. In fiscal year 2011, UH Hilo raised $1,618,148, the largest number of private scholarship dollars in history. Between 2000 and 2011, UH Hilo’s scholarship endowment grew from $942,000 to $3.4 million.

At least 70 percent of UH Hilo’s 4,000+ students depend on some form of financial aid to fund the cost of attending the university. For first year students at UH Hilo, the percentage is even higher: 75 percent of freshmen are receiving financial aid. In fact, UH Hilo has the highest percentage of students receiving aid of any of the 10 campuses in the UH System.

It’s clear what a vitally important role our private donors play in ensuring the academic success of our students; scholarships support students to complete their education and contribute to their communities. Behind every scholarship there is an individual or a company that has a connection to UH Hilo and a desire to help our students. On behalf of the university community, I’d like to take this opportunity to express deep appreciation to our donors.

I will be hosting a Mahalo Celebration on Dec. 15 at 3:00-4:30 at the Campus Center Plaza. Please come join us for some ono food, good company and excellent entertainment!

I wish you and yours a safe and restful holiday. I look forward to working with you in the New Year.

Don Straney

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Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: November 2011

Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce
November 2011

Strengthening Hawai‘i’s future by partnering with Hawai‘i Community College

Staff stand under the sign at the Hālaulani Project Office, located at Hawai‘i Community College’s Manono campus. The office was jointly developed by UH Hilo andHawCC to administer a cooperative grant program aimed at increasing transfers from the community college to the university. Left to right: Michele Padayao, program specialist, Hālaulani-HawCC; Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, program coordinator, Hālaulani-HawCC; Loke Brandt, peer mentor, UH Hilo anthropology major; Kainoa Ariola, grant partner and interim director at UH Hilo Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center.

I recently read a report by Complete College America stating that by 2020, 68% of jobs in Hawai‘i will require a career certificate or college degree, but currently only 41% of adults have a college degree. The gap: 27%. For a strong economy, the report states, the skills gap must be closed. We simply will not have enough skilled workers to meet the needs of our economy unless many more college and university students graduate.

One way the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is addressing this challenge is by collaborating with Hawai`i Community College (HawCC). Most importantly, we are working together to examine ways to facilitate seamless transfers between the campuses—for example, by giving students roadmaps to use when they begin their college education at HawCC, they will have a plan on how to achieve baccalaureate degrees at UH Hilo.

One collaborative initiative is the Degree Pathways Partnership program, where HawCC students who opt for the program can be accepted to select UH Hilo programs while still attending the community college. The program increases student access toward attaining a higher degree and gives students optimum access to support in achieving their higher education goals, for example advising from both HawCC and UH Hilo faculty to keep students on track.

Two UH Hilo degrees currently offered in the HawCC-UH Hilo pathways program are Administration of Justice and Business Administration. Currently in discussion for the pathway program are HawCC’s Digital Media Arts degree, which would lead into UH Hilo’s BA in Art, and HawCC’s Tropical Forest Ecosystem and Agroforestry Management program leading into UH Hilo agricultural degrees.

In addition to working collaboratively on increasing student transfers and higher degree attainment, UH Hilo and HawCC are also working on professional development programs to increase faculty and staff knowledge and awareness of Hawaiian perspectives. This type of professional development will strengthen our ability to fully support Native Hawaiian students as they complete their higher education with a degree that makes them competitive in the job market. As this column goes to press, UH Hilo and HawCC are launching the jointly sponsored ‘Aha‘aha Leadership Summit to be held in Oct-Nov and designed to boost faculty and staff skills as leaders in higher education within a cultural context.

To address the future needs of our economy, both campuses view our partnership as an important component in being able to successfully provide higher education to the people of the island.

 

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Announcement about Strategic Plan implementation

Announcement by the Chancellor about Strategic Plan implementation

Aloha Colleagues,

Over the past few months I have been working with the Council of Vice Chancellors to develop a process that will guide unit implementation planning. I have asked all the vice chancellors to lead and facilitate the development of an implementation plan for their unit.

In this context unit refers to the four major university divisions – Academic Affairs, Administrative Affairs, Research and Economic Development and Student Affairs– and the Office of the Chancellor.

I have asked that completed unit implementation plans be submitted to me by the end of June 2012. Guidance on the unit implementation planning process, including a template for unit plans, is available at the Strategic Plan Implementation page.

Development of the unit implementation plans will be led and facilitated by the appropriate unit leader– in this context that means the relevant VC for each of the major divisions, and me for the Office of the Chancellor– with significant input from all faculty and staff. Some of you may have heard from your VC (or me if you report directly to my office), or you will be hearing from your VC in the coming days on what to expect for your unit and how you will be able to participate.

As you know, there are six goals in our new strategic plan, each with several priority and/or supporting actions. So that we have a clear idea of who will lead on what, I have allocated responsibility for each action to one of the VCs or myself.

Implementing a strategic plan runs the risk that we will become too focused on details and loses sight of the broad principles that motivated the plan in the first place. Keep in mind what the actions you implement should accomplish:

Positively impact our students by:

  • Helping to graduate more men and women who are prepared to succeed in their lives outside of university, and providing an improved learning and living environment that encourages improved retention.

Positively impact our faculty and staff by:

  • Improving the working environment through better communications, streamlined processes and procedures, increased professional development opportunities and better supported teaching and research activities.

Positively impact on our local community by:

  • Actively working with community partners on joint projects and initiatives, ensuring that UH Hilo produces high quality graduates that are able to meet local workforce needs, and encouraging community members to engage in university-based activities.

I want to emphasize that this strategic plan forms a central pillar of UH Hilo– its development was based on input from our faculty, staff, students and community, and as such it is very much our strategic plan. It is our guide for the coming year on issues of most importance for our institution. As such, from now on it will form the basis for decision-making criteria by me and the university’s senior leadership on our strategic direction, budget allocations, and day-to-day operations.

One final note, although we will be doing implementation planning over the coming year, we will also be doing implementation. The process of planning does not overrule the activity of action. I encourage you all to participate in the implementation planning processes and to help put our strategic plan into action for the benefit of our entire university and surrounding community.

I welcome and encourage continuous feedback on the Strategic Plan and its implementation. Please email uhhplan[at]hawaii.edu with any comments, ideas or questions you may have.

Mahalo,

Don Straney

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