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UH Hilo Chancellor's Blog Posts

WATCH: 2021 Fall Welcome

At the virtual event hosted by Chancellor Irwin, new faculty and staff were introduced along with recognition of faculty who have received tenure and promotion over the last year.

Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin hosted the 2021 Fall Welcome at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo on Sept. 8. New staff were introduced at the virtual event along with recognition of faculty who have received tenure and promotion over the last year. Chancellor Irwin also shared a few thoughts about the coming semester.


    • Jeraldine “Jeri” Ilar, Transfer Credit Specialist, Office of the Registrar
    • Catherine “Loke” Evans-Bautista, Program Coordinator, Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center
    • Kip Nagata, Math and Science Program Coordinator, Upward Bound
    • Rebecca “Becca” Gillison, Associate Director of Residence Life, Housing


    • Margary Martin, Associate Professor, Education

Tenure and Promotion

    • Ozan Atalag, Associate Professor, Kinesiology and Exercise Science
    • Patricia Hensley, Associate Professor, Nursing
    • Matthew Knope, Associate Professor, Biology
    • Camlym Masuda, Associate Specialist, Pharmacy Practice
    • Jarred Prudencio, Associate Professor, Pharmacy Practice


    • Julie Adrian, Professor, Pharmacy Practice
    • Shugeng Cao, Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences
    • Leng Chee Chang, Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences
    • Todd Inouye, Associate Professor, Management
    • Christopher Lauer, Professor, Philosophy
    • Yiqing Li, Professor, Tropical Forest Ecology & Management
    • Justina Mattos, Associate Professor, Performing Arts
    • Alexander Nagurney, Associate Professor, Psychology
    • Keisuke Nakao, Professor, Economics
    • Yucheng Qin, Professor, History

Chancellor’s Remarks (truncated, see video above for full remarks)

  • COVID Updates
    • Vaccines and testing
    • Daily LumiSightUH check in
    • Continue to practice distancing and sanitizing
    • Limit group activities
    • Still no fans at athletic events
    • Faculty decide as to what classes are hybrid and when the f2f portions of those classes will be held
    • Most importantly, responsible individual behavior on and off campus
  • Enrollment (pre-census)
    • Total enrollment up 2.7% from last year
    • Dramatic increase over last year in transfer students: 21.8%
    • Freshman, continuing, and grad down slightly, but overall, enrollment is holding.
    • Asian/Pacific Islander Enrollment 57.9%
    • Hawaiian Enrollment 33%
    • Resident Enrollment 69.8%
  • Budget
    • Still working toward addressing a $5.7m reduction in general funds
    • We can get by this year without dipping into reserves by
      • Limiting hiring to strategic & operational priorities
      • Continuing to restrict travel and large purchases
      • Use of federal relief funds
      • Special fund revenues expected to increase due to increased activity on campus
  • Strategic Plan: 3 Goals
    1. Strengthen Commitment to Haumāna: Equity and Student Success
    2. Strengthen Commitment to ʻĀina- and Community-based Education
    3. Strengthen Commitment to Kākou, Our Campus ʻOhana
  • Strategic Plan: Strategies and Actions based on:
    • It is a high-priority effort that will significantly advance achievement of the university’s strategic goals.
    • It is feasible to initiate or accomplish within one or two academic years.
    • It positively impacts student success.
  • WSCUC Accreditation
    • WASC Senior College and University Commission) site visit postponed until April
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A Message from the Chancellor on Our Kuleana This Weekend


Bonnie Irwin wears a mask

Yesterday I participated in a social media campaign in which many community leaders posted selfies with the caption, “Vaccinated or unvaccinated, it is STILL all of #OurKuleana.” I am proud of our campus community for acting responsibly and staying safe. Our COVID cases on campus are fewer in number than those of the community at large, and I am grateful that you are all setting a good example. We want to continue to protect our campus community.

The upcoming three-day weekend is time for us to relax and recharge, and I hope you all find opportunity to do so, but remember that it is important that we all keep up our responsible behavior: avoid large groups, practice physical distancing, wear your mask when you are with people outside your immediate household, and wash your hands, frequently.

We have had a successful start to the Fall 2021 term, and we want to make sure we end as strong as we started.

My best wishes to everyone for the holiday weekend and for a successful September!


Bonnie D. Irwin

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Chancellor’s Monthly Column, Sept. 2021: Safety first with COVID-19 as we move the university forward

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

The fall semester has started and the University of Hawai‘i System has updated its COVID-19 Guidelines for all 10 campuses across the state. At UH Hilo we now have about twice as many students living on campus as last year, so that drives much of what we are doing. And, for the time being, enrollment is up!

For everyone’s safety, we now have a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for students, faculty, staff and visitors who come to a UH campus. Unvaccinated students and employees are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test weekly. Everyone’s status is tracked through an app, which also screens for symptoms and possible exposure.

Some courses—clinicals, labs, performing arts, field work—may require vaccination without exception because safe physical distancing cannot be maintained. Unvaccinated students are being encouraged to defer registration for these classes until spring or a later semester.

Everyone is asked to continue practicing social distancing. While face masks are required indoors while on a UH campus, a mask is not required if the person is in a room by themselves. Face masks are no longer required outdoors while on campus but strongly recommended when physical distancing cannot be maintained, such as in a crowd.

The updated UH guidelines reflect the high vaccination rates of our campus communities based on recent surveys. Guideline revisions and updates are ongoing based on county, state, and federal guidance. Our focus, of course, is on health and safety, especially given the highly contagious Delta variant now circulating throughout our state resulting in higher case counts among the unvaccinated. Get vaccinated!

Community Engagement

As we focus on safety first with our COVID protocols, we also continue to move our university forward in its mission to improve the quality of life of the people of Hawaiʻi. This means providing both access and equity to all who want to advance their education with us.

On this front, I want to share with you that UH Hilo’s Center for Community Engagement and the Campus Center have been awarded $149,000 from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund to implement student and faculty programming grounded in community, relationships, and equity. With support from local collective Vibrant Hawai‘i, the County of Hawai‘i, and KTA Superstores, a four-year program will launch for students that combines leadership development and service that is geared to, but not exclusively for, first-generation and low-income students.

The Center for Community Engagement also will offer professional development for faculty focusing on teaching and mentorship activities that are grounded in community, relationships, and equity. The faculty members will form cohorts to work together throughout the year in support of each other in doing the work. Each cohort member will then commit to inviting and mentoring another educator in the following year to pay forward lessons learned.

Strategic Plan

Meanwhile, we move forward on completing our new strategic plan. As I wrote in last month’s column, the proposed strategic and action plans have been under review. Planning participants, including faculty, staff, students, alumni and community partners have been driving development of the new plan, and I want to thank our university community and our local partners for sending in your feedback.


By working together on the COVID-19 front while also moving our university forward in its mission to provide a quality education to all our students, we can ensure both safety and success to all. Mahalo for all you do to help us reach our goals.


Bonnie D. Irwin

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Update from Chancellor Irwin re teleworking

Aloha Kākou, UH Hilo Community,

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

First of all, I want to thank you all for all the efforts you have expended on behalf of our students and our university during the pandemic. I have seen extraordinary efforts across the units of campus, and I truly appreciate how so many of you have stepped up repeatedly during this challenging time.

In the interests of transparency, I am writing today to let you know that, with the approval of President David Lassner, I am teleworking from California while my mother undergoes cancer treatment. I have been fully engaged in the work of campus and UH System and plan to remain so. If the situation changes dramatically, I will update the campus accordingly.

Mahalo for your understanding and my best wishes for a good semester, as we welcome students back to campus, both in person and online.


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