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UH Hilo Chancellor's Blog Posts

Indonesian college administrators visit UH Hilo

Nine college administrators from Indonesia recently visited with University of Hawaiʻi administrators, faculty and staff at Kapiolani Community College, Hawaiʻi Community College and UH Hilo as part of an initiative by the Indonesian government to establish community colleges and workforce development training opportunities in their country. The administrators met with Chancellor Don Straney; Dr. Bruce Matthews, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management; and Dr. Drew Martin, College of Business and Economics because of their interest in agriculture, aquaculture and business/tourism management.

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Chancellor’s Mahalo Celebration will feature locally grown and produced foods, dessert contest

University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s annual Chancellor’s Mahalo Celebration will be held on Thursday, Dec. 15, from 3:00 to 4:30 pm at the Campus Center Plaza.

Festivities will feature locally grown and produced foods. Faculty and staff also will have an opportunity to demonstrate their culinary talents through a Holiday Dessert Contest. Prizes will be awarded in the following categories:

  • Sodexho Baker’s Tastiest Choice: $50 Sodexho meal card
  •  Chancellor’s Most Original Choice: $50 gift certificate
  • Student’s Presentation Choice: $50 gift certificate from the UH Hilo Student Activity Council

There also will be hands-on activities for children to make fun things to take home!

Happy Holidays!

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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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Donors are introduced to scholarship recipients at the 2011 Scholarship Banquet

“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.” -Chancellor Straney

Retired pharmaceutical entrepreneur Alec Keith, center, is surrounded by scholarship recipients at the 2011 Scholarship Banquet. In 2004, Keith and his wife Kay pledged $2.4 million to fund scholarships at UH Hilo, which at that time was the largest private donation made to any campus in the UH system. The Alec and Kay Keith Scholarship supports students from Hawai‘i and the Pacific islands who demonstrate both academic merit and financial need. Photos by Robbyn Peck.
Chancellor Straney delivers remarks at the 2011 Scholarship Banquet.

University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Don Straney and the UH Foundation co-hosted the 2011 Scholarship Banquet held Nov. 10 on campus. The annual event is organized to thank UH Hilo’s private scholarship donors and to introduce them to the students currently benefiting from their support. About 150 people attended, including 50 private scholarship donors.

“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,” said Chancellor Straney. “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.”

Donor Gladys Sonomura walks up to the podium to give her remarks.

Donor Gladys Sonomura said a long time ago she began to embrace the idea that UH Hilo could become Hilo’s primary economy, its industry as a college town, like the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she studied for a year.

“Astronomy, the volcanoes, the ocean and multi-culturalism are unique here,” said Sonomura. “Pharmacy and advanced nursing degrees are now entrenched here. Hilo is on an island where we even have the requisite elevations from sea level to the tops of our mountains to grow almost anything.”

Sonomura’s friends were invited to accompany Pierre and Pam Omidyar when they received the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in New York last month. Noting that Andrew Carnegie was quoted as having said, “To die rich is to die in disgrace,” Sonomura commented, “I like to think that if I had access to such wealth, I would not die in disgrace. UH Hilo would receive the greater part of it, and I would also support Hawai‘i Community College.”

Elina Fred

Scholarship recipient Elina Fred was born and raised on the island of Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia. She is due to graduate from UH Hilo in December with a double major in accounting and communications. Her goal is to become a CPA. Fred thanked her donor, Alec Keith, “for having given me a 23-year head start on where I want to go” because 23 years is how long she calculated that she would have had to work with only a high school diploma in Micronesia in order to earn sufficient funds to attend a university in the U.S.

Cheryl Lopez

“Tonight is the first time I’m meeting you,” she said to Keith, “but you’ve already made a big impact on my life.”

Fred hopes one day to start a scholarship fund for students from her island.

Scholarship recipient Cheryl Lopez was born and raised in a Filipino-American family on Maui. She is the first in her in her family to earn an undergraduate degree and is now in the third year of pharmacy school. She, too, hopes one day to provide scholarship support to students.

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Facts about Financial Aid at UH Hilo:

  • 70% of UH Hilo’s 4,000+ students depend upon some form of financial aid to fund the cost of attending university. For first year students at UH Hilo, the percentage is even higher: 75% of freshmen are receiving financial aid.
  • UH Hilo has the highest percentage of students receiving aid of any of the ten campuses in the University of Hawai‘i System.
  • Almost 42% of UH Hilo students qualify for Pell grants, the federal aid which 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.
  • 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 $440,000.
  • In FY11, generous donors enabled UH Hilo to raise the largest number of private scholarship dollars in history: $1,618,148. Between 2000 and 2011, UH Hilo’s scholarship endowment grew from $942,000 to $3.4 million.
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Photos by Robbyn Peck.
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