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UH Hilo Chancellor's Blog Posts

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

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

Growing our campus strengthens our island’s economy

Logo with the words Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce Since 1898The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is more than an institution of higher education, it has a major impact on the island’s economy. A recent estimate is that UH Hilo contributes about $240 million to the economic activity of the state. Here at home, the university employs 610 people and stimulates an additional 3,900 jobs in our local communities. UH Hilo’s University Park of Science and Technology has $900 million in investments and creates 400 jobs.

In these challenging economic times, an effective way to address both job growth and higher education needs is through capital improvement projects on our campus, and we have some exciting projects in the works.

Our new Science and Technology Building is nearing completion. The physics, astronomy, and chemistry departments will move into the $28 million structure that will feature new classrooms, laboratories, and research space. The top-notch facilities and technology will provide UH Hilo students and faculty with state-of-the-art laboratory and research facilities rivaling any in the country, bringing our university’s science disciplines into the 21st century and enabling our graduates to be highly competitive at the graduate school level and in the work force.

We broke ground on our new Student Services Building in January. The three-story structure will house programs to support student success: admissions, registration, financial aid, advising, career development, disability services, counseling, women’s center, and health promotion. Capital improvements like this bring UH Hilo in line with national trends in student services and allow staff to meet the needs of our diverse student population from initial admission to graduation and beyond.

In February, we celebrated the groundbreaking of our award-winning College of Hawaiian Language building. Our island is the best place in the world to study indigenous language and culture revitalization, and we are committed to strengthening and growing the college. The beautiful building already is earning accolades: the Honolulu chapter of the American Institute of Architects gave WCIT Architects the design award for this building in the “Commissioned Work to be Built” category. Both the building and landscape will reflect the Hawaiian culture and our island’s natural resources.

Plans are underway for a permanent building for our College of Pharmacy to be located at the entrance to the University Park of Science and Technology. Now awaiting legislative approval for construction, the facility will give UH Hilo pharmacy students access to state-of-the-art technology in the classroom, affording them an exceptional educational experience that will prepare them well for the job market. With this building, the College of Pharmacy will meet its full potential to educate the health care work force of tomorrow, serve the health care needs of our citizens, and stimulate the economy through grants and research.

Construction is scheduled to begin this summer on a new UH Hilo College Campus Store, which will be an addition to the Campus Center building. We’re excited about this new store because, not only will it be a place for students to buy books, but it will also be a welcoming place to shop, eat, hang out and just enjoy. Serving both UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College, the store’s ultra-modern design will contribute greatly to a lively and inviting sense of community for our students.

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Radio interview with the Chancellor

Chancellor Donald Straney of University of Hawai‘i at Hilo says it’s the attitude of Hawai‘i’s university system that attracted him.

Logo with the words Hawaii Public Radio, ocean in backgroundFebruary 22, 2011: Hawai‘i Island reporter Sherry Bracken from Hawaii Public Radio spoke with Chancellor Donald Straney about why he made the move from California.

February 23, 2011: University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s new Chancellor, Donald Straney, has been at the helm for nearly nine months. He says the UH Hilo campus is very different from the 20,000-student UH Mānoa campus.

(Update: Interviews no longer available online.)

 

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UH Board of Regents approves two new degrees at UH Hilo College of Pharmacy

Logo with the words College of Pharmacy University of Hawaii at Hilo.College of Pharmacy to offer BA in pharmacy studies and doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences

HONOLULU – At its monthly meeting held yesterday at Honolulu Community College, the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents approved the bachelor of arts in pharmacy studies and the doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences as provisional programs to be administered by the College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, effective fall 2011.

The UH Hilo College of Pharmacy currently offers a curriculum leading to the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) with the first class of student pharmacists scheduled to graduate in May 2011. The addition of the bachelor of arts in pharmacy studies (BAPS) will give the College of Pharmacy an additional advantage over programs that do not offer such a degree and will make the program even more attractive to applicants. Implementation of the doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences will also give the College of Pharmacy a distinct competitive advantage through research excellence and prepare graduates to be scientists with extensive skills in research design, techniques and methodologies.

“Each of these programs expands our ability to offer students more options in a changing world landscape,” said College of Pharmacy Dean John M. Pezzuto. “The BAPS degree will enhance educational opportunities for our PharmD students and make them more competitive in the marketplace. The doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences complements the PharmD program by exposing students to career prospects beyond the practice of pharmacy. We’ve been building these degree options since the founding of the college.”

The BAPS degree is designed for students enrolled in the PharmD program at the UH Hilo College of Pharmacy. Students who enter the PharmD program at UH Hilo are required to have met pre-pharmacy requirements, but they are not required to have earned a bachelor’s degree. The PharmD curriculum is rigorous and requires four years of studies, surpassing the requirements of a bachelor’s level degree. By providing the BAPS degree option, students will have the opportunity to have their academic achievements properly recognized.

The program supports the Hawai‘i Graduation Initiative of the UH System, which aims to increase the number of UH graduates by 25 percent by 2015. The degree offering will also increase UH Hilo retention rates, as students who participate in the pre-pharmacy program will earn a bachelor’s degree.

The doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences will be the first program of this type to be offered by the University of Hawai‘i, and the only program of this nature to be offered in the state of Hawai‘i and the Pacific region. It will significantly elevate the culture of research, development and technology transfer in the pharmaceutical sciences, with an emphasis on natural products discovery and development and their importance in pharmacy and healthcare in general. This effort is consistent with the UH System’s focus on workforce development and research innovation in contribution to Hawai‘i’s overall economic future.

“Not only will residents of Hawai‘i be able to earn a doctorate in pharmaceutical science without leaving the state, but we will also be able to attract scholars from the mainland and abroad with unparalleled opportunities. The economic and intellectual benefits to the state reach far beyond our imagination at this point,” said Pezzuto.

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Kenith Simmons is appointed interim vice chancellor for academic affairs

Aloha,

I’m pleased to report Dr. Kenith Simmons’s appointment as University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s interim vice chancellor for academic affairs is now official.

Kenith Simmons
Kenith Simmons

Dr. Simmons came to UH Hilo in 1979, after receiving her PhD in English literature from the University of Wisconsin. She joined UH Hilo’s Department of English as a contemporary literature and film specialist with considerable experience in teaching English as a second language.

Dr. Simmons’s scholarly work includes numerous publications related to film and contemporary literature. For the past fifteen years she has devoted her creative time to the writing of poetry. Well represented in Hawai‘i literary publications, her work has also appeared nationally and internationally in poetry journals and anthologies.

Since the early 1990s, in addition to continuing to teach, she has served in administrative positions, including chairing the English department and the women’s studies and honors program steering committees. She was humanities division chair for nine years and was the first assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the first assistant vice chancellor for administrative affairs.

An active member of the community, Simmons has served as vice president of the Hawai‘i Concert Society and as a board member of the Hawai‘i Literary Arts Council. She is also a mediator with Kuikahi Mediation Center.

Dr. Simmons received the UH Board of Regents’ Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1984.

Donald Straney
Chancellor

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UH Hilo College of Hawaiian Language breaks ground

The new building to house the College of Hawaiian Language promises to be both functional and extraordinarily beautiful, with profound symbolic and spiritual elements.

Large group of students coming down dirt drive, headed by Kalena Silva.
UH Hilo students, faculty, staff, administrators and members of the community walk to the piko or central point of the parcel for the groundbreaking of UH Hilo’s new College of Hawaiian Language building. At left is Kalena Silva, director of the college.

A bilingual blessing and groundbreaking was held on Saturday for permanent facilities for University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

The opening ceremonies were conducted in Hawaiian. A genealogical presentation acknowledged native speakers who assisted in Hawaiian language teaching at UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College dating back to 1960. Lydia Makuakane, the eldest living of those native speakers, led a procession to the groundbreaking site, where she turned the soil at the piko or central core of the parcel. The event concluded with remarks by representatives from the UH and elected officials.

UH Hilo Chancellor Straney at podium speaking to crowd at groundbreaking ceremonies.
UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney addresses the audience at groundbreaking ceremonies. Seated at left are Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi, and to his left, UH President MRC Greenwood.

“This building promises to be both functional and extraordinarily beautiful, with profound symbolic and spiritual elements,” said UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney. “It’s a building to match the quality of the programs offered by the College of Hawaiian Language.”

Gerald De Mello, director of university relations, said the project enjoyed widespread support, but it took a coordinated team effort to secure the funding.

“This was a major accomplishment since very few initiatives were funded this past session,” De Mello said. “Our Big Island delegation led by House Higher Education Chairman Jerry Chang in concert with his Senate counterpart Jill Tokuda really came through for us. We were also fortunate to have the strong support of UH President M.R.C. Greenwood and then-Governor Linda Lingle.”

Kalena Silva, director of the college, says the new building will not only address the college’s growing pains but lay a foundation for the future.

“With this building we can expand both our graduate and undergraduate programs, which are key to taking the college to the next level,” Silva explained. “We also look forward to raising our profile on the international stage by hosting gatherings with indigenous people who look at our programs as potential models for language revitalization in their communities.”

The building already has won critical acclaim by capturing the 2010 American Institute of Architects Honolulu Design Award in the category of “Commissioned Work to be Built.” The design by WCIT Architects of Honolulu features spectacular landscape, mountain and ocean views, and designs which reflect Native Hawaiian culture and the Big Island’s natural resources.

The college awarded UH Hilo’s first master’s and PhD degrees as it gained national prominence as a leader in indigenous language and cultural revitalization, added new programs like linguistics, and witnessed a surge in enrollment.

Link to full press release.

Link to video of the event.

Photos of the event by Walter Dudoit.

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