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UH Hilo Chancellor's Blog Posts

Design phase completed for new UH Hilo College of Pharmacy building

“When you consider the data from the economic impact study that shows the college brings in more than $50 million a year to the state, there’s no question that this is an investment that will more than pay for itself virtually in no time.” –State Representative Clift Tsuji

The design phase is completed for a new state-of-the-art building for the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s College of Pharmacy.

“We cannot overstate the importance of this building to Hawaiʻi’s future as the hub of health care and discovery,” said John Pezzuto, dean of the college. “It will also allow us to give our students the best possible professional pharmacy education and move forward with accreditation.”

WCIT Architecture of Honolulu designed the building, which will cost an estimated $66 million. In 2010, WCIT won an architecture award for the design of UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikolani College of Hawaiian Language building.

WCIT President Rob Iopa said the design approach blends environment, place and architecture unique to the needs of the College of Pharmacy yet within the framework of other buildings on campus.

“WCIT Architecture has done a beautiful job designing the Hawaiian languages building, but I want to stress we are not just looking for window dressing,” said Debra Fitzsimons, vice chancellor for administrative affairs. “I’m confident their design of the College of Pharmacy will complement our existing structures on the UH Hilo campus while giving them the proper educational vessel they require.”

The design phase was funded in part by $5.5 million from the state in 2009. Funds are now being sought from the state and others for construction. During a recent site visit, a group from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, the national accrediting agency responsible for pharmacy schools, said the lack of a permanent building for the college is a serious concern.

Pezzuto said the cost of construction is more than offset by the economic benefits the college brings to the state of Hawaiʻi. State Representative Clift Tsuji agrees.

“When you consider the data from the economic impact study that shows the college brings in more than $50 million a year to the state, there’s no question that this is an investment that will more than pay for itself virtually in no time,” said Tsuji (D-South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown).

The new pharmacy college facilities will be located on campus at the corner of Komohana and Nowelo streets.

UH Hilo’s College of Pharmacy is the only school of pharmacy in the Pacific region.

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UH Hilo seeks feedback on strategic plan draft

Students, faculty, staff, alumni and the general public are encouraged to participate in survey. Town-hall sessions also scheduled.

HILO — The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is currently undertaking a strategic planning exercise and requests input from students, faculty, staff, alumni and the general public on its latest draft.

“We asked for views on our draft mission and vision statements in January this year, and now would like to seek feedback on those redeveloped statements,” said Sian Millard, strategic planning facilitator. A copy of the draft strategic plan is available at UH Hilo Strategic Planning website.

Everyone is invited to review the draft plan and comment, including any suggestions for changes or clarifications. The consultation is offered via online survey. The survey will take approximately 15-20 minutes and is available until noon on Thursday, April 14.

Town-hall sessions (please review the draft plan before attending) are also scheduled on the following dates:

• Tuesday, April 12, noon-1 p.m., Campus Center 301
• Wednesday, April 13, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Campus Center 301 (students-only session)
• Wednesday, April 13, 5-6 p.m., Campus Center 301

Contact Siân Millard at or call (808) 933-3297 with any questions.

For general information on UH Hilo’s strategic planning process, visit For disability accommodation, call (808) 933-3297 (V) or (808) 933-3334 (TTY).

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Statement by the Chancellor on search for UH Hilo Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs


I am pleased to announce that the search for a permanent University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs is moving forward. I am committed to an extensive national search to identify candidates with the experience, vision and energy to develop and advance strategic academic priorities at UH Hilo.

We now have a well-rounded and representative search committee, recruited in consultation with the UH Hilo Faculty Congress, Hanakahi Council, and UH Hilo Student Association, to advise me on the selection:

  • Norman Arancon, Assistant Professor, Horticulture
  • Lari-Anne Au, Librarian
  • Daniel Brown (committee chair), Interim Vice Chancellor for Research
  • Jason Cabral, Assistant Professor, Hawaiian Language and Literature
  • Linda Connelly, Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Emmeline de Pillis, Professor, Management
  • Devaki Drozario, UHHSA Representative
  • Gabriele Matull-Worst, Associate Registrar
  • John Pezzuto, Dean, College of Pharmacy
  • Cheryl Ramos, Associate Professor, Psychology
  • Nicole Ryan, Academic Support Specialist, North Hawaii Education and Research Center
  • David Sing, Director, Na Pua No‘eau Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Children

Many thanks to Dan Brown for agreeing to chair the committee. A national search firm will help identify a diverse pool of qualified candidates and will generally support the search process.

I would also like to express my thanks to Kenith Simmons for serving as interim VCAA during the search process.

Donald Straney

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UH Hilo Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology receives national accreditation

HILO — The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Master of Arts Program in Counseling Psychology has received a full 10-year accreditation from the Masters in Psychology Accreditation Council (MPAC), extending to March 1, 2021. MPAC accredits academic programs in psychology, which promote training in the scientific practice of professional psychology at the master’s level. Accredited programs must demonstrate a commitment to science-based training in all aspects of psychology and to enhancing services to the consumer and the public-at-large.

“This is a proud moment for the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo,” said Chancellor Donald Straney. “MPAC accreditation represents an important validation of the quality of education our students receive as they prepare to join the ranks of professional counselors.”

The Master of Arts Program in Counseling Psychology is administered by the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences. The program was established in 2005 with the full approval and support of the University of Hawaiʻi System and the Hawaiʻi State Legislature. The 60 semester-hour program is based on a scientist-practitioner model, with an emphasis on empirical research and evidence-based practices. The program is designed to provide multicultural, student-centered training in counseling psychology and meets the curricular requirements for licensure as a mental health counselor in the state of Hawaiʻi.

“My colleagues and I are very pleased to have attained national accreditation for our counseling psychology program,” said Dr. Bryan Kim, director of the counseling psychology masters program. “We all know that national accreditation represents external recognition of a program’s high-level quality and sustainability. My colleagues and I have worked hard at building our program and we are grateful to have this recognition from the Masters in Psychology Accreditation Council.”

“I personally want to thank my faculty colleagues, administrators, students, graduates, community supervisors, and everyone else who have supported our program since its formation in 2005 and have helped to make this accreditation possible,” he added.

For more information about the program, contact Kim at or (808) 974-7439.

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Legislative Testimony by the Chancellor on HCR 291/HR 256 to search for a site in lower Puna to house Learning Center

Testimony Presented Before the
House Committee on Higher Education
March 24, 2011 at 2:00pm
Donald O. Straney
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo


Chair Nishimoto, Vice Chair Nakashima and Members of the Committee:

From their main location in Hilo, Hawai‘i Community College and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo have served the higher education needs of the island of Hawai‘i for almost 70 years. We have established learning centers in Honoka‘a (serving Hamakua and Kohala) and in Kealakekua (serving Kona and South Kohala). These centers offer individual courses, 2- and 4-year degree programs, and student support services to students in these communities. The new campus being constructed at Palamanui will expand our capacity to offer higher education in West Hawai‘i.

We welcome the suggestion to plan a similar learning center in Puna. This area is undeserved by higher education and we would look for community partners to help us establish a center that is responsive to local needs.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.


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