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UH Hilo Chancellor's Blog Posts

Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: February 2012

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

February 2012

UH Hilo and the state collaborate on energy and food sustainability

Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce LogoOne of the goals in the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s new Strategic Plan is to foster a sustainable environment on campus, one that gives students, faculty and staff the best possible place in which to study, work and live. One of the key components of this sustainability goal is responsible stewardship for Hawai‘i’s precious natural resources by providing leadership in recycling, sustainable resource use, food production, “green” building design, and use of renewable energy sources on campus.

We already are making great strides in these objectives with the installation of photo voltaic on several of our buildings and promotion of “local first” days in our campus eateries. Our newly re-formed Sustainability Committee is currently discussing new initiatives on energy and recycling. During winter break, our campus community participated in our Green Days initiative, in which many facilities and offices on campus were closed, saving $68.5 thousand in energy costs.

A statewide initiative that dovetails in part with UH Hilo’s sustainability goals is the work of the Hawai‘i EPSCoR Statewide Governance Committee, of which I am co-chair. EPSCoR is a multi-million dollar federally-funded statewide initiative called the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Taking the lead from Governor Abercrombie’s “A New Day in Hawai‘i” roadmap, in which the governor emphasizes the urgent need to infuse technology and innovation into the economy, the EPSCoR committee is providing leadership for development of the Hawai‘i Statewide Science and Technology Strategic Plan. The committee recently drew up a proposed guide, “Sustaining and Improving Quality of Life for a Prosperous Hawai‘i: A Statewide Framework for Science and Technology,” including a section on energy and food sustainability.

The plan, still in draft form, is meant for state and local governments, businesses, and the education sector and “provides a pathway for sparking conversations and actions that will bring to bear the latest knowledge and technology to grow, diversify and strengthen a resilient state economy, and improve the overall quality of life for Hawai‘i residents.” The plan advocates four key objectives: 1) strengthen the sci-tech talent pool; 2) foster synergies between Hawaii’s sci-tech businesses and institutions; 3) advance sci-tech for a healthy state; and 4) invest in sci-tech for a resilient, sustainable island state.

Objective 4 addresses the current model in which the state imports 90% of its energy (through oil) and 85% of its food need; the EPSCoR committee expresses concern that Hawai‘i is therefore exposed to increased risks relating to energy and food supplies. “Investment in scientific and technological research to help Hawai‘i produce more of its own energy and food for domestic use and exportation will help to ensure that the state is protected,” the draft plan states.

I’ve placed as one of my priorities the advocacy of initiatives that bring us closer to a truly sustainable campus, island, and state. Governor Abercrombie’s New Day roadmap, UH Hilo’s strategic plan, and EPSCoR’s draft sci-tech guide all encourage discussion and collaboration to advance the objectives I’ve discussed above. In last month’s column, I wrote about convening the first UH Hilo Community Vision Summit with leaders from our local community—representatives of education, health, technology, business, local government, and community non-profits. Among the most prevalent topics at the summit was UH Hilo’s focus on energy and agriculture. “UH Hilo has to focus on the new trends where jobs are and communicate this to the community,” said one participant. “This will produce the ‘fire in the belly’ for motivation in education.”

More community vision summits are planned for the near future. I look forward to working with the chamber and its members to advance sustainable initiatives and practices for the benefit of our island and state.

For more news from the Office of the Chancellor, visit my blog.

Don Straney

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New faculty and staff introduced at Chancellor’s 2012 Spring Gathering; buffet and farmers market celebrate “local first” food, produce and products

New faculty and staff were recognized at University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s 2012 Spring Gathering; the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management held a farmers market stocked with produce, products and plants from UH Hilo’s Agriculture Farm Lab.

Chancellor Straney gestures during his remarks.
Chancellor Straney points toward the Farmers Market held on the Campus Center Plaza during the 2012 Spring Gathering, Jan. 26.
Three people talking on the plaza.
Norman Arancon (left), assistant professor of horticulture, who organized the Farmers Market with students from the College of Agriculture, hands out taro plants as giveaways.

New faculty and staff were introduced at University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s 2012 Spring Gathering event on January 26 at the Campus Center Plaza. Celebrating a “local first” theme, the crowd enjoyed a buffet menu of local fruit and vegetable dishes, pulled pork, a sweet potato dessert, coffee and fruit juices.

Adding to the theme, the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management held a farmers market stocked with produce, products and plants from UH Hilo’s Agriculture Farm Lab.

Chancellor Straney gave a presentation with updates on UH Hilo’s new Stategic Plan, spring enrollment numbers, legislative updates and other news (transcript to be published shortly).

The following new faculty and staff attended the event:

Kenny Simmons and Cathy Wiltse
Kenny Simmons (left), interim vice chancellor for academic affairs introduced Cathy Wiltse, new director of the Small Business Development Center.
Amelia Shapiro (at right), director of academic support, welcomes Lyndsay Heller, science center coordinator.
Leon Hallacher (at right), chair of the natural sciences division, with Scott Uehara, information technology specialist.
John Pezzuto (center), dean at the College of Pharmacy stands with Cara Suefuji (left), academic support specialist, and Peyton Wong (right), associate specialist, clinical track faculty.
Farrahmarie Gomes and Steve McPeek
Farrahmarie Gomes (left), director at the North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center introduces Steve McPeek, NHERC operations manager.
Newcomers at Student Affairs, left to right: Mackenzie Austin, assistant director, outdoor recreation and aquatics, Department of Campus Recreation; Valerie Yamaki, fitness coordinator, Department of Campus Recreation; Marianna Karewicz, medical technologist, Student Medical Services; Leslie Armeniox, associate director, Counseling Services. Luoluo Hong, vice chancellor for student affairs, stands at far right.
Ka‘iu Kimura (at far right), director at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i, introduced two newcomers: Punawai Rice (center) and Mino‘aka Macanas.

Aloha and Welcome to all new Faculty and Staff!

Photos by John Oshima.

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Board of Regents approves UH Hilo 2011-2015 Strategic Plan

The University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents unanimously approved UH Hilo’s new strategic plan for 2011-2015 at its meeting recently held at Kaua‘i Community College.  The plan places students at the center of the university’s mission, vision and goals, setting a clear framework for enhancing learning and preparing students to succeed in a globally competitive workforce.

“The whole point of strategic planning is to work with the plan you’ve developed and make sure it has an impact,” said UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney.

A Strategic Planning Committee appointed by Straney engaged in a highly collaborative and consultative strategic planning process, seeking feedback from students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members at key stages.

“This strategic plan was developed for UH Hilo by UH Hilo and its incredibly supportive local community,” said Professor Kelly Burke, committee chair. “We received over 1,400 responses during the entire process and on behalf of the committee I want to thank everyone who took time to contribute to development of the plan.”

The strategic plan defines six main areas of focus for the coming years: student learning experiences and support; excellence in teaching, research and collaboration; a vibrant and sustainable environment within which to study, work and live; a diverse, multicultural university; impact on the community, island and state; and organizational excellence. Through these goals UH Hilo aims to positively impact its students, faculty, staff and broader community.

“This plan sets an exciting and challenging framework,” said Barry Mark, community representative on the committee. “It is a plan that the community fully supports and looks forward to working together with the university to put it into action.”

UH Hilo is currently undertaking implementation planning to ensure it is put into action.  Chancellor Straney and his senior administrators are leading implementation efforts in a similar collaborative way to how the plan was developed.

“It is our aim that through our strategic plan we will strengthen our existing foundations to build our future, one which we all helped to shape,” said Straney.

For more information about UH Hilo’s strategic plan and planning process, visit

UH Hilo’s 2011-2015 Strategic Plan document is available for download at


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Application deadline for Chancellor Scholarship is March 1

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is currently accepting applications for its Chancellor Scholarship, a prestigious award created for graduates from Hawai‘i high schools that covers four years of tuition. The estimated value over four years is $22,000.

High school applicants with a minimum GPA of 3.5 or 1800 on the SAT or 27 on the ACT are encouraged to apply before the March 1, 2012 deadline. Applications should be submitted to the UH Hilo Admissions Office.

Applications are available on the Admissions website at

For additional information, call the UH Hilo Admissions Office at (808) 974-7714.

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UH Hilo Chancellor’s Community Vision Summit: Summary Report

“This first Community Vision Summit aimed to identify issues of shared concern for the future of Hawai‘i Island, along with ideas for ways the university can more effectively help us reach our common goals.” — from Summary Report of Chancellor’s Community Vision Summit, Dec. 2011.

In early December, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney invited 27 leaders from the local community– representatives of education, health, technology, business, local government, and community non-profits– to convene for a Community Vision Summit.

“The discussions were lively and fruitful, focusing on the strategic directions of UH Hilo in the coming years,” said Chancellor Straney. “The group talked about their shared vision of our island’s future, and how to build two-way relationships to reach our common goals.”

Working together, Chancellor Straney said, the participants provided helpful guidance about the university’s role in strengthening our community. The importance of UH Hilo’s role in the P-20 education system was emphasized. There was a great sense of people wanting to work together to provide education and life-long learning opportunities matched to workforce development needs.

In addition, said the chancellor, emphasis was placed on undertaking research and development relevant to the people, environment, and culture of our island and state.

From the summit’s Summary Report:

The UH Hilo 2011–15 Strategic Plan makes an explicit commitment to “strengthen UH Hilo’s impact on the community, Island and state of Hawai‘i through responsive higher education, community partnerships, and knowledge and technology transfer.” On December 9, 2011, UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney convened 27 local “thought leaders” from different sectors to engage in a conversation about strategic directions for the campus in the coming years.

This first Community Vision Summit aimed to identify issues of shared concern for the future of Hawai‘i Island, along with ideas for ways the university can more effectively help us reach our common goals.

Using the World Café meeting format, participants engaged in a series of interactive roundtables focused on three “harvest” topics informed by three pairs of questions:

1.  Community Worries and Inspirations

  • What do you see in our community that has you worried or concerned?
  • What do you see in our community that inspires, energizes or excites you?

2.  Realizing Bold Futures by Leveraging Opportunities

  • What are your hopes for our community’s future in 2020?
  • What opportunities can UH Hilo leverage to enable this future?

3.  Achieving 2020 Impacts through Substantial Actions

  • If UH Hilo is fully successful in leveraging these opportunities, what impact will we see in 2020?
  • What substantial actions can UH Hilo take now to realize these achievements?

Through four rounds and three table changes, participants were able to share and connect ideas from multiple conversations, volunteering key ideas in each “harvest.” Over the course of a half-day of discussion, three interlocking themes emerged as areas where UH Hilo could have the biggest impact on improving the quality of life on our island:

  • Driving Local Economic Development
  • Strengthening Community Relationships
  • Bridging Our Island’s Multiple Sectors

The full Summary Report (PDF) of the summit is now available online.

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