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UH Hilo Chancellor's Blog Posts

Kīpaepae kā‘iewe ceremony held

Members of the UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College communities gather for a kīpaepae kā‘iewe ceremony to reaffirm the well being of the campus after the unexpected loss of several faculty members.
Chancellor Straney speaks at the kīpaepae kā‘iewe ceremony.

kīpaepae kā‘iewe ceremony was held last week to reaffirm the well being of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo campus after the unexpected loss of five members of the university ‘ohana over the summer. UH Hilo mourns the loss of Richard Crowe , professor of astronomy (d. May 27); David Miller, professor of English (d. June 27); Don Aanavi, retired art professor and campus minister (d. July 22) ; Sabry Shehata, professor of agricultural economics (d. July 21); and Jay Slivkoff, observatory technician in the astronomy and physics department (d. Aug 5).

Those gathered at the kīpaepae on Aug. 14—about 50 faculty, staff, and students from UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College—were moved by the simple yet profound message of the ceremony, described by UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney as “a moment to slow down the clock to honor life and living.”

Taupōuri Tangarō (left), who officiated over the kīpaepae, scatters water during the ceremony. The presentation of water symbolizes the cyclic nature of all life.

Gail Makuakāne-Lundin, executive assistant to the chancellor, explains the translation of kīpaepae kā‘iewe.

A kīpaepae is a traditional threshold stone to transitions one from the outer world of knowing into the inner world of remembering, used here to denote ceremony,” she says. “Kāʻiewe means to make familial connections.”

The ceremony, held outside Chancellor Straney’s office, was officiated by Taupōuri Tangarō, Hawai‘i CC assistant professor and department chair of the Hawai‘i Lifestyles program. The garden area fronting the administration building was dedicated as the malae, or ceremonial grounds, where ti leaf stalks were planted in memory of the lost colleagues.

Following Native Hawaiian protocol, each of the elements used in the kīpaepae kā‘iewe ceremony held significant symbolism about loss and reaffirmation of life. Many of those who gathered participated in drumming and the blowing of conch shells.

“The pahu (drum) is sounded to remind us that we all originate from within the womb, close to the heartbeat of our mothers,” says Tangarō. “The (shell trumpet) is trumpeted to remind us that the ocean does not disconnect, but connects us all.”

Drumming at the ceremony reminds all who hear that life originates from within the womb, close to the heartbeat of the mother.

Ceremonial salt and water were scattered by Tangarō. The solemn group was enveloped in his ‘oli (chant).

“The paakai (salt) is presented to encourage the preservation of humanity; the presentation of water is to remind us of the cyclic nature of all life,” he says. “And finally, the chant, a very ancient one from the volcanic myth traditions of Hawai‘i island, will reverberate the timeless and universal message to live well, to live full, and most of all, to create a legacy of having lived in the center of your potential.”

During the ceremony, ti leaf stalks were planted in memory of the departed colleagues.

The gathering was a collaborative event facilitated by Hawai‘i Community College and UH Hilo.

Organizers included Hawai‘i CC’s Kīpaepae Hawaiian Protocols Committee, an official college committee under the aegis of Hawai‘i CC’s Chancellor Noreen Yamane and chaired by Tangarō.

The gathering also was facilitated by UH Hilo’s Uluākea ‘ohana. Supported by the Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center, Uluākea is a cohort of UH Hilo administrators, faculty, staff, and learners active in the amplification of Hawai‘i Life Ways within their respective areas.

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Former Chancellor Ed Kormondy visits UH Hilo

Former University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Ed Kormondy was honored at two gatherings in July. There was a reception for community leaders who served on Chancellor Kormondy’s Cornerstone Committee, followed by a reunion of former faculty and staff.

Edward J. Kormondy served as chancellor at UH Hilo from 1986 to 1993. He is currently serving at Tusculum College, Tennessee, as temporary acting president.

Attending a reception honoring former Chancellor Ed Kormondy are (l-r), front row: Rick West, Marlene Hapai, Ed Kormondy, Judith Kirkendall, Jim Wilson. Back row: Linus Chao, Don Straney, Gerald DeMello, Bobby Fujimoto, Lois Toyama, Pieper Toyama, Jane Chao, Barry Taniguchi, Dan Brown, Linda West, Audrey Wilson, Leslie Lewis. Photo courtesy of UH Hilo Office of Development.
Former and current UH Hilo faculty and staff gather to honor former Chancellor Ed Kormondy. Front row (l-r): Edgar Torigoe, Ruth Robison, Leslie Lewis, Ed Kormondy, Irene Matsuura, Gail Makuakāne-Lundin, and Rick Castberg. Back row (l-r): Lois Toyama, Connie Maples, Pieper Toyama, Ray Okabayashi, Bob Okuda, Linda Damas, Keith Miser, Ann Miser, Dianne Higgins, Barbara Heintz, Sonia Juvik, Ginger Hamilton, Mitzi Hennessey, Henrilene Pickens, Lynn Namihira, Jerry Johnson, Cecilia Mukai, Dan Brown, and Margaret Shiba. Photo courtesy of UH Hilo Office of Development.
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UH Hilo’s first Zero Waste Event is a huge success

Kristine Kubat (left) and Jordan from Recycle Hawai‘i stand proudly outside UH Hilo’s Campus Center Plaza with the resource recovery of breakfast waste from the first day of Orientation Week.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is conducting a Zero Waste Event on campus this week during Orientation. Cam Muir, biology professor and chair of UH Hilo’s Energy Savings and Sustainability Committee, announced Monday that the waste reclamation results on the first day of the event were 55 gallons of compostable materials, eight gallons of recyclables, and one-half pint of trash.

“The success of the event so far is the result of the work of the organizers as well as all the Orientation Week leaders and especially the patience, understanding, and enthusiasm of the freshman class and their parents,” says Muir. “Numerous students and their parents thanked us for the effort and virtually everyone got into the learning aspects, with some passing the learning forward to their new friends.”

The event is organized by Kristine Kubat of Recycle Hawai‘i, Lucas Moe of UH Hilo’s orientation office, and Muir of UH Hilo’s Office of Sustainability.

Muir says “zero waste” is meant to be a goal where all the waste generated at UH Hilo can be diverted to either compost or recycling. He says attaining this goal depends not only on the effort it takes to sort waste “at the bin,” but also begs effort at the “point of purchase.”

“I don’t think the important thing is actually attaining zero percent trash,” he says. “I believe the point is to reduce the non-divertible trash to as close to zero as possible while recovering as much useable resource from our trash as possible.”

Much can be accomplished with minimal effort. As this week’s Zero Waste Event shows, 96 percent of all waste has been diverted away from the landfill. Muir says this is important because as an institution, UH Hilo generates a tremendous amount of waste that is sent to Hilo’s landfill.

“If we can divert a large amount of that waste we can not only ameliorate the negative effects that UH Hilo is having on our local environment but also save thousands on our trash hauling,” he says.

Muir notes that an important part of the zero waste effort is recognizing that much of the trash generated at the university is actually usable resources. Instead of packaging the waste, almost all of it can be turned into soil and other recycled materials, thus reducing the need to cut down more trees for paper, mine more aluminum for cans, or import soil from the continent, he says.

“Of course, as a university, we also have the obligation to educate our students about behaviors that will be more sustainable for our society,” Muir says. “Seeing the response this week from our new students and their parents, the teacher in me has been singing!”

Muir hopes this will be the first of many such initiatives and that as a campus community, UH Hilo will be inspired by the tremendous success of the new freshmen in this first Zero Waste Event.

“My goal is to follow up this event with a proliferation of such events,” he says. “I also hope to expand the effort to a Zero Waste Week, a Zero Waste Semester, and ultimately a Zero Waste Campus. I believe we can do this and I believe that we are educationally, financially, and ethically obliged to try.”

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Video: UH Innovation Initiative discussed

Click above to watch video at

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo will have an important role in a new statewide economic development initiative headed by UH President M.R.C. Greenwood.

Kelli Abe Trifonovitch, director of communications and outreach for the UH Innovation Initiative, recently moderated a discussion on UH’s role in Hawai‘i’s economic development with Peter Quigley, UH vice president for community colleges, Jeanne Unemori Skog, Maui Economic Development, and Mitch D’Olier, president and CEO of Kaneohe Ranch on O‘ahu.

“In this program we’ll be talking about economic development with focus on UH’s Innovation Initiative,” says Trifonovitch. “Economic development is a critically important topic and the University of Hawai‘i may have found the way forward for the diversification problem that has vexed our state for decades.”

UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney encourages everyone interested in learning more about the UH Innovation Initiative to watch the video, which includes discussion about the important role of UH Hilo in future economic growth of the state.


Learn more about UH’s Innovation Initiative.  

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Chancellor Straney attends the Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference

UH Hilo recently became a member of the Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance, host of this week’s Hawai‘i Conservation Conference in Honolulu. HCA is a statewide joint partnership between conservation-focused government, education, and non-profit organizations.

University of Hawaiʻi President M.R.C. Greenwood spoke at the 20th Annual Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center on July 31 in Honolulu. Pictured from left is Markus Staib, president of Milici Valenti Ng Pack; Sharon Ziegler-Chong, director of the UH Hilo Pacific Islands Program for Exploring Science; President Greenwood; Michael Chang, deputy program manager of Hawaiʻi Energy; and James Hardway, executive director of the Workforce Development Council, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Photo courtesy of UH System News.

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney attended the Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference this week in Honolulu. UH President M.R.C. Greenwood gave a speech at the conference on institutional preparation for a future economy consisting of green jobs and how UH is preparing future generations to compete in a green job market.

The annual conference is hosted by the Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance and brings together researchers, resource managers, community members and educators. Over the last several years UH Hilo faculty, staff and students have given noteworthy presentations at the conference. This year’s conference was held July 31 through August 2 at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center.

UH Hilo recently became a member of the Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance, a statewide joint partnership between conservation-focused government, education, and non-profit organizations. There are 19 members of the collaborative group working together to manage the biodiversity of Hawai‘i’s lands and waters. HCA members also include those who work with land and water for social, cultural, and agricultural purposes.

“UH Hilo’s efforts in conservation research on important issues such as climate change, endangered and invasive species, and ecosystem management have grown significantly over the last 15 years,” says Chancellor Straney. “Those activities provide a rich learning laboratory for our students and create strong ties with the community and our agency partners.”

Jim Beets, professor of marine science, will represent UH Hilo on the HCA Steering Committee.

Members of HCA include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Park Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Geological Survey, Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Bishop Museum, and Kamehameha Schools, among others.

“HCA provides unified leadership and advocacy on conservation issues critical to Hawai‘i,” says Straney. “UH Hilo focuses on connecting its research and efforts to our island community through its students, faculty and partnerships. We look forward to collaborating with these groups and organizations to address the urgent conservation issues facing our state.”

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