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UH Hilo Interim Chancellor's Blog

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.


Announcement about Strategic Plan implementation

Announcement by the Chancellor about Strategic Plan implementation

Aloha Colleagues,

Over the past few months I have been working with the Council of Vice Chancellors to develop a process that will guide unit implementation planning. I have asked all the vice chancellors to lead and facilitate the development of an implementation plan for their unit.

In this context unit refers to the four major university divisions – Academic Affairs, Administrative Affairs, Research and Economic Development and Student Affairs– and the Office of the Chancellor.

I have asked that completed unit implementation plans be submitted to me by the end of June 2012. Guidance on the unit implementation planning process, including a template for unit plans, is available at the Strategic Plan Implementation page.

Development of the unit implementation plans will be led and facilitated by the appropriate unit leader– in this context that means the relevant VC for each of the major divisions, and me for the Office of the Chancellor– with significant input from all faculty and staff. Some of you may have heard from your VC (or me if you report directly to my office), or you will be hearing from your VC in the coming days on what to expect for your unit and how you will be able to participate.

As you know, there are six goals in our new strategic plan, each with several priority and/or supporting actions. So that we have a clear idea of who will lead on what, I have allocated responsibility for each action to one of the VCs or myself.

Implementing a strategic plan runs the risk that we will become too focused on details and loses sight of the broad principles that motivated the plan in the first place. Keep in mind what the actions you implement should accomplish:

Positively impact our students by:

  • Helping to graduate more men and women who are prepared to succeed in their lives outside of university, and providing an improved learning and living environment that encourages improved retention.

Positively impact our faculty and staff by:

  • Improving the working environment through better communications, streamlined processes and procedures, increased professional development opportunities and better supported teaching and research activities.

Positively impact on our local community by:

  • Actively working with community partners on joint projects and initiatives, ensuring that UH Hilo produces high quality graduates that are able to meet local workforce needs, and encouraging community members to engage in university-based activities.

I want to emphasize that this strategic plan forms a central pillar of UH Hilo– its development was based on input from our faculty, staff, students and community, and as such it is very much our strategic plan. It is our guide for the coming year on issues of most importance for our institution. As such, from now on it will form the basis for decision-making criteria by me and the university’s senior leadership on our strategic direction, budget allocations, and day-to-day operations.

One final note, although we will be doing implementation planning over the coming year, we will also be doing implementation. The process of planning does not overrule the activity of action. I encourage you all to participate in the implementation planning processes and to help put our strategic plan into action for the benefit of our entire university and surrounding community.

I welcome and encourage continuous feedback on the Strategic Plan and its implementation. Please email uhhplan[at] with any comments, ideas or questions you may have.


Don Straney