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UH Hilo Interim Chancellor's Blog

Heritage Center opens at UH Hilo’s North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center

The Heritage Center will be an active educational facility that will foster pride and perpetuate the diverse heritage of Hamakua and North Hawai‘i while providing the community with a foundation to thrive in the future.

Officials and members of the community untie the maile at the blessing and grand opening of the North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center’s Heritage Center in Honoka‘a. From left, Eileen Momi Naughton, PhD, coordinator of the Heritage Center; Farrah-Marie Gomes, director of the North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center and interim dean at UH Hilo

MEDIA RELEASE– After several days of rain, the skies cleared up with perfect timing for the November 16 blessing and grand opening of the North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center’s (NHERC) Heritage Center in Honoka‘a.

As an outreach center of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (UHH), NHERC has continuously expanded since first opening in 2006. The NHERC Heritage Center represents the latest phase of expansion and has a vision of being an active educational facility that will foster pride and perpetuate the diverse heritage of Hamakua and North Hawai‘i while providing the community with a foundation to thrive in the future.

A crowd of over 100 individuals gathered for the community celebration. The Honoka‘a senior citizens set the tone with their beautiful songs and Lanakila Mangauil officially opened the program with traditional oli.

Distinguished guests graced the community with their presence or remarks. Delbert Nishimoto presented a message from U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye in which Senator Inouye shared, “History is the greatest teacher. The preservation of the age old traditions of indigenous cultures is of paramount importance as we guide our children and grandchildren. The resources provided at the NHERC Heritage Center will teach all who walk through your doors about the significance of the past and its impact on their future path.”

In a written message, Senator Daniel Akaka commented “A traditional saying of the Native Hawaiian people, ‘A‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka halau ho‘okahi, tells us not all knowledge is gained from a single source. The education our students gain in classroom is supplemented and enriched by their families, communities, and environment around them. This Heritage Center will serve as a source of bolstered knowledge, not only for those in academia, but for our entire community.”

Representative Mark Nakashima spoke about a community having vision and being able to match community needs with University resources through the NHERC Heritage Center. Vice Chancellor Simmons further expressed the University’s commitment to providing educational opportunities for North Hawai‘i communities and beyond.

Ahualoa resident and past Peace Corp member, Romel Dela Cruz, shared his thoughts from a community perspective about what the Heritage Center will provide for preservation and dissemination of culture through sharing of stories and experiences in the format of displays and exhibits.

Heritage Center Coordinator, Dr. Momi Naughton, shared how a Heritage Center advisory board was formed to help provide feedback, guidance and direction for the development of the Heritage Center. Naughton spoke about the diversity of the Heritage Center advisory board and how she sees her role as a facilitator for helping the community celebrate their history and heritage. She also acknowledged Dr. Quentin Tomich for his role in the preservation and historic documentation of the Hamakua area.

Kukuihaele resident, ‘I‘ini Kahakalau shared about how knowing one’s past, to understand one’s present, is key for ensuring hope for the future. Kahakalau is a current UHH student majoring in Hawaiian Studies and is a recipient of the prestigious UHH Chancellor’s Scholarship.

Farrah-Marie Gomes, NHERC Director and Interim Dean for the College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS), rounded out the program remarks. In the spirit of weaving together the Hawaiian culture, ranching and farming lifestyle and the plantation era, Gomes used lyrics from a country music song and personal experiences to ensure the community of the University’s commitment while challenging the community to take advantage of the opportunities that the Heritage Center is making possible.

Reverend Marcia Hartsock of the United Methodist Church in Honoka‘a performed the blessing of the NHERC Heritage which was followed by the untying of the maile lei.

All three rooms of the Heritage Center were then opened for public viewing. The Archives is intended to meet the needs of North Hawai‘i by keeping local cultural resources in our area so that it is easily accessible to the community. The Museum is yet to be developed with permanent exhibits – a planning grant has already been submitted for this purpose. The Gallery will provide changing exhibits.

The inaugural exhibit celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps in honor of those who helped with the training program in Waipi‘o Valley and those in our community who served in the Peace Corps. That exhibit was unveiled at the grand opening and will remain on display through the remainder of this year.

The NHERC Heritage Center will be open Monday through Fridays from 7:45am to 4:30pm, excluding state holidays. Student and volunteer opportunities are available. Please call Momi Naughton at NHERC for more information.

Nominations for 2012 excellence in teaching awards are now open

Announcement from Kenith Simmons, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

UHH Students, Faculty and Staff,

UH Hilo and the UH System annually honor excellent teachers who are nominated by their colleagues and students with the following three awards:

* The Board of Regents’ Award for Excellence in Teaching
* The Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence
* The Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

UH Hilo is currently seeking nominations for the 2012 Excellence in Teaching Awards.

For more information on the teaching awards, criteria and nomination form go to pdf of memorandum (update: pdf no longer available).

Deadline for submitting nominations and supporting statements is February 10, 2012 and must be sent electronically to vcaa[at] Please indicate “Teaching Award” and the name of the nominee in the subject line when you submit your nomination.

Kenith Simmons
Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs


Learn more about UH Hilo faculty and staff awards.

Thirty Meter Telescope reception held at Washington Place

Governor Neil Abercrombie and University of Hawai‘i President MRC Greenwood hosted a reception on Nov. 11 at Washington Place, Honolulu, for officials and community leaders associated with the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope. Among the guests were TMT officials, representatives from Big Island and astronomy communities; federal, state and UH officials; and benefactors. UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney attended.

From left,UH Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw, UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney, Dilling Yang, University of California System President Mark Yudof, UC Berkeley Professor Steven Beckwith, Senator Daniel and Irene Inouye, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan Director General Shoken Miyama, UH System President M.R.C. Greenwood, UH Institute for Astronomy Director Gunther Hasinger, UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry Yang, California Institute of Technology President Jean-Lou Chameau. Photo courtesy of UH System.
University of Hawai‘i President M.R.C. Greenwood, Sen. Inouye, UH Institute for Astronomy Director Gunther Hasinger and Irene Inouye. Photo courtesy of UH System.
U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye addresses a reception for officials associated with the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope. Photo courtesy of UH System.
From right, UH Regent Jan Naoe Sullivan, Governor Abercrombie and UH Vice President Howard Todo welcome members of the international TMT consortium. Photo courtesy of the UH System.
From left, Big Island farmer and businessman Richard Ha; Rockne Freitas, VP for Student Affairs and University/Community Relations; Herring Kalua, member of the Mauna Kea Management Board; and UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney. Photo courtesy of Richard Ha.
From left, Big Island business leader Roberta Chu; UH Regent and Big Island energy expert Barry Mizuno; and UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney. Photo courtesy of Richard Ha.
Hilo businessman Barry Taniguchi and Debbie Goodwin of the Keck Observatories were among the guests, who included representatives from Big Island and astronomy communities; federal, state and university officials; and benefactors. Photo courtesy of UH System.
From left, Ricard Ellis, CIT; Gary Sanders, TMT; Mike Bolte, UC; Suijian Xue, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Shoken Miyama, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan; Hawaiʻi Governor Neil Abercrombie; Hideki Takami and Masanori Iye, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan; Henry Yang, UC Santa Barbara; Ray Carlberg, University of Toronto; A. N. Ramaprakash, University of Pune. Photo courtesy of UH System.

Photos from Richard Ha originally published on his blog. Thanks, Richard!

Search committee announces candidates for UH Hilo Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

The Search Committee for the University of Hawaii at Hilo Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs is pleased to announce the names of the finalists for the position.  The candidates and their campus visitation dates are:

Karen Pugliesi, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Northern Arizona University, Nov. 7–8.

Julio Blanco, Dean of Natural Sciences, California State University at Bakersfield, Nov. 9–10.

William Riffee, Dean of Pharmacy, University of Florida, Nov. 14–15

Matthew Platz, Director of the Division of Chemistry, National Science Foundation and former Dean and Vice Provost, Ohio State University, Nov. 17–18.


Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: November 2011

Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce
November 2011

Strengthening Hawai‘i’s future by partnering with Hawai‘i Community College

Staff stand under the sign at the Hālaulani Project Office, located at Hawai‘i Community College’s Manono campus. The office was jointly developed by UH Hilo andHawCC to administer a cooperative grant program aimed at increasing transfers from the community college to the university. Left to right: Michele Padayao, program specialist, Hālaulani-HawCC; Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, program coordinator, Hālaulani-HawCC; Loke Brandt, peer mentor, UH Hilo anthropology major; Kainoa Ariola, grant partner and interim director at UH Hilo Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center.

I recently read 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 the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is addressing this challenge is by collaborating with Hawai`i Community College (HawCC). Most importantly, we are working together to examine ways to facilitate seamless transfers between the campuses—for example, by giving students roadmaps to use when they begin their college education at HawCC, they will have a plan on how to achieve baccalaureate degrees at UH Hilo.

One collaborative initiative is the Degree Pathways Partnership program, where HawCC students who opt for the program can be accepted to select UH Hilo programs while still attending the community college. The program increases student access toward attaining a higher degree and gives students optimum access to support in achieving their higher education goals, for example advising from both HawCC and UH Hilo faculty to keep students on track.

Two UH Hilo degrees currently offered in the HawCC-UH Hilo pathways program are Administration of Justice and Business Administration. Currently in discussion for the pathway program are HawCC’s Digital Media Arts degree, which would lead into UH Hilo’s BA in Art, and HawCC’s Tropical Forest Ecosystem and Agroforestry Management program leading into UH Hilo agricultural degrees.

In addition to working collaboratively on increasing student transfers and higher degree attainment, UH Hilo and HawCC are also working on professional development programs to increase faculty and staff knowledge and awareness of Hawaiian perspectives. This type of professional development will strengthen our ability to fully support Native Hawaiian students as they complete their higher education with a degree that makes them competitive in the job market. As this column goes to press, UH Hilo and HawCC are launching the jointly sponsored ‘Aha‘aha Leadership Summit to be held in Oct-Nov and designed to boost faculty and staff skills as leaders in higher education within a cultural context.

To address the future needs of our economy, both campuses view our partnership as an important component in being able to successfully provide higher education to the people of the island.