Remarks by UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney
2011 UH Hilo Awards and Recognition Celebration
May 3, 2011
Campus Center Plaza
Aloha and Welcome to the UH Hilo Awards and Recognition Ceremony.
As we gather to recognize our honorees, I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize and say “thank you” to all of you. It has been almost a year since I first arrived at UH Hilo, and it’s been an extraordinary learning experience. I’ve found a good deal to admire about our faculty and staff and our entire university community. Your dedication contributes greatly to our success and it’s been an absolute pleasure working with you to move UH Hilo forward.
Today, we’ll recognize our recent retirees, our faculty and staff years of service, and we’ll also announce the winners of this year’s UH Hilo Awards. Before we start with our ceremonies, I’d like to briefly update you on a few things.
The strategic planning process is drawing to a close, and we currently have a draft plan that is widely supported on campus. I’d like to thank everyone for your participation. By the end of spring semester we should be distributing the working draft. Next year, we’ll be using it to adjust the course of our university through implementation.
New Scholarship Program
Planning is underway for a very exciting new development: the launch of an ambitious new scholarship program at UH Hilo one year from now. Details are still being worked out, so I am not at liberty to reveal the donors. Funding 4-year scholarships for ten entering students beginning with the 2012-13 academic year. Scholarships are reserved Big Island high school graduates who have limited financial resources and are first in their families to attend college. Ten scholars will start UH Hilo in 2012, with ten more added each year until program reaches 40 participants annually. Just as exciting, each cohort of students will receive specialized support services and the opportunity to participate in four summers of uniquely designed programming here on the Big Island and elsewhere. Our own faculty and staff will be involved in the delivery of these programs and services.
As you know, the current fiscal situation in the state presents a challenge to implementing the changes the campus would like to see. The budget challenge is statewide: state government needs to make up a $1.3 billion shortfall in the next biennium. UH Hilo has already taken a 24.5% reduction in general funds over the last three years. Last week we learned how we fared in the legislature for CIP. We got 50% funding for student housing ($16 million) and permission to get the other 50% from revenue bonds. The legislature is also giving us $4 million towards the renovations and addition to Hale Kanilehua to accommodate living/learning centers. Please join us for the all-campus meeting on the budget set for Thurs., May 5 at 11:30am in Wentworth 1.
We’re confident UH Hilo will exceed this year’s graduation targets set for us by the UH System.