Jun 012017
 

It was a beautiful Spring Commencement celebrating cultural heritage, sustainability, and diversity, reaffirming our responsibilities in addressing the challenges of our time.

By Don Straney.

Professor places hood on graduate's shoulders.

Prof. of Anthropology Peter Mills (right) bestows candidate with hood for Master of Arts in Heritage Management. 2017 Spring Commencement celebrated the first cohort to graduate from the new UH Hilo program.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo celebrated a milestone at Spring Commencement last month: the university graduated its first candidates for a Master of Arts in Heritage Management.

Students in the new program train for heritage-related careers in both the public and private sector to interpret, preserve, and perpetuate cultural heritage—something of immense value to our local communities and indigenous culture.

UH Hilo takes seriously its responsibility to our island communities and indigenous culture, and community-based archaeology is a vital aspect of Hawaiian cultural revitalization.

In a paper on the importance of cultural resource management professionals, Peter Mills, professor of anthropology, writes that Hawai‘i struggles with many issues confronting heritage management programs globally. Grass roots efforts to better manage Hawaiian cultural sites are increasing, and state regulations require cultural resource managers to have an advanced degree—yet graduate training in anthropology and related fields in Hawai‘i is limited.

Let me share a story of one of the graduates to show the importance of this degree to our island families and communities.

Lokelani Brandt with baby

Lokelani Brandt

Lokelani Brandt received her bachelor of arts in anthropology with a minor in Hawaiian studies from UH Hilo in 2012 after receiving her primary education at Ke Kula ‘o Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u Hawaiian immersion school. She and her husband both have careers in Hilo (Lokelani is a lecturer for the Hawai‘i Life Styles Program at Hawai‘i Community College) and they would like to raise their family here.

With her newly received master of arts degree, Lokelani has accepted a full-time position in Hilo with ASM Affiliates, a major archaeological consulting firm. With her advanced degree in hand, she will be qualified to serve as a principal investigator on ASM’s field projects.

This type of career option will be very meaningful to many of our undergraduate students of Native Hawaiian ancestry—there is now an option to pursue professional leadership positions in archaeology and related fields rather than only volunteering for grass-roots organizations.

As Peter writes: “A shift in perspective is required, for example instead of viewing and interpreting ‘archaeological sites’ as significant only for their data, these cultural sites should be viewed as vital parts of a living Hawaiian culture.”

Watching these graduates at Commencement during the traditional “hooding” ceremony was a moving experience, knowing that the cohort will be going out into the world as professionals now credentialed to help preserve “a living Hawaiian culture.”

Speakers

Along with UH Hilo’s responsibility to protect our islands’ cultural heritage, the university also accepts responsibility—given our location and resources—to learn with and from other island nations in the Pacific region. Our keynote speaker was President Tommy Esang Remengesau, Jr, of the Republic of Palau, an internationally recognized leader on environmental issues not the least of which is his leadership in the historic effort to implement the Palau National Marine Sanctuary.

President Remengesau’s remarks focused on the responsibilities we all share in taking care of our island states, communities, and environment. This great man practices what he preachers—his work and visionary leadership is inspirational as we proceed in working together on the challenges of our time: sustainability, environmental protection and cultural preservation.

In addition to these responsibilities, the university also remains committed to safeguarding human rights, notably the rights of our LGBTQ+ community.

Our student speaker at commencement, Karla Kapo‘aiola Ahn, a performing arts major and entertainer who often performs music on campus, spoke about her gender transition and about how UH Hilo—in particular Professor of Drama Jackie Johnson, just retired—provided the unconditional support she needed to realize her full potential in her studies and in her life while at the university.

Karla personifies our pride in being the nation’s most diverse university system. We live the aloha spirit.

It was a beautiful Commencement celebrating cultural heritage, sustainability, and diversity, reaffirming our responsibilities in addressing the challenges of our time.

Aloha,

Don Straney

May 172017
 

Chancellor’s Scholars maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and participate in leadership activities and community service.

Thirteen students from Hawaiʻi’s public and private high schools have been awarded the prestigious Chancellor’s Scholarship by the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

The 2017-2018 recipients and their respective high schools include:

  • Hailey Briseno, Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy
  • Kekamamakoaakaʻilihou Caceres, Kamehameha–Kapālama
  • Scott Dakofsky, Roosevelt High School
  • Ariana Dolan, Pearl City High School
  • Skyla Elder, Honokaʻa High School
  • Kaitlyn Evans, Kamehameha–Maui
  • Preslyn Kaanaana, Kamehameha–Kapālama
  • Polina Kozinskiy, Laupahoehoe PCS
  • Sophia Smith, Hawaiʻi Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Jaron Sugimoto, Waipahu High School
  • Naneaikealau Thomas, Kamehameha–Hawaiʻi
  • Vanessa Watkins, Waiakea High School
  • Kamamaluwaiwai Wichimai, Kamehameha–Hawaiʻi

The award, valued in excess of $28,000, covers four years of tuition for students graduating from a Hawaiʻi high school who earned either a grade point average of at least 3.5, a combined 1800 SAT (reading, writing, math) or a composite score of 27 on the ACT while demonstrating leadership and/or community service.

Chancellor’s Scholars are required to enroll as full-time students and earn a minimum of 24 credits each academic year. They must also maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and participate in leadership activities and/or community service with other Chancellor’s Scholars.

 

Media release

May 032017
 
Ken Hon

Ken Hon in the field.

University of Hawaii at Hilo Chancellor Don Straney announced today Ken Hon, professor of geology, has accepted the offer to serve as interim vice chancellor for academic affairs effective July 1, 2017. He will be replacing Vice Chancellor Matt Platz, who previously announced his intention to return to the classroom in August, while a search is conducted for a permanent vice chancellor.

The appointment will be posted on the UH Board of Regents agenda later this month.

Hon has served as a faculty member at UH Hilo since 1997.

“His knowledge of the university and experience on the Research Council give him a campus-wide perspective, which is important for this position,” says Chancellor Straney today in an email announcement to the university community.

Vice Chancellor Platz will work with Professor Hon this summer to ensure the Office of Academic Affairs is prepared for the start of the new academic year.

 

Apr 042017
 

Creating access and strengthening retention for students from Hawai‘i Island is our top priority.

By Don Straney.

While we continue to develop academic programs that address our island’s needs, we are currently developing new ways to be more effective at recruitment, retention, and graduation rates. We are taking our efforts to a whole new level, focusing our resources on specific students for recruitment and retention. This is part of a University of Hawai‘i systemwide initiative where each of the 10 campuses are developing their own five-year enrollment management plans specifically designed with appropriate goals for the individual campus.

In this column, I’d like to share some of UH Hilo’s plans.

The first step to creating this type of plan is to identify enrollment targets for the next five years, and in conjunction, to identify three to five areas of specific enrollment and retention activity to focus on, with the corresponding goals clearly outlined. This is done through analysis of historic trends and creating a foundation to work into planning and budgeting processes.

The goals are developed based on realistic and measurable outcomes and most likely will include shifts in, say, recruitment communications, marketing and public relations activities, financial aid strategies, academic course scheduling, support services programs and various projects.

An area we are exploring in particular is recruitment and support for freshman students—increasing enrollment by reaching out to particular geographic and ethnic populations (think local), and increasing freshman to sophomore retention by focusing on certain student populations and specific academic programs.

An example of this is in striving to strengthen the sense of community on our campus by grouping freshman students, who are interested in specific academic programs, into cohorts that stays together through graduation.

We’ve been building on this concept over the past few years, creating a Freshman Village, a community at the Hale Kanilehua Living Learning Center, that groups students as cohorts according to academic interest. We started with Native Hawaiian students, from both UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College, interested in Hawaiian studies and science, technology, engineering and math programs, commonly called the STEM programs.

The pilot program was a great success—it measurably expanded students’ competency in technology and retention at UH Hilo—and now the program has expanded to six Living Learning Communities: business, creative arts, environmental sustainability, Hawaiian culture and language, health and wellness, and natural science with a marine focus. This is a concept that we can build on as we develop our new enrollment management plan.

In other areas, we are currently discussing ways to increase distance learning, international students, and veteran enrollment. Also under discussion are scheduling more evening or weekend courses, expanding financial aid resources, and more highly targeted counseling and peer mentor programs.

I want to note that creating access and strengthening retention for students from Hawai‘i Island is our top priority. We have a responsibility to serve the whole island, and we are collaborating closely with Hawai‘i Community College to achieve recruitment-retention-graduation goals by creating pathways from Hawai‘i CC to UH Hilo in programs such as agriculture and Hawaiian studies.

All of these approaches to enrollment management need strong administrative support to be effective and there will undoubtedly be new approaches in admissions, financial aid, communications, and course scheduling. For example, including more scholarships in initial financial aid packages to encourage enrollment, and increasing high school visits by faculty and staff to talk with Hawai‘i Island students, are high on the priority list.

UH Hilo cannot grow on its own. We need to work together—faculty, staff, students—along with our local community to the benefit of all. This, combined with our strong partnership with Hawai‘i CC, will ensure that Hawai‘i Island’s high school students and others will have the options they need to access higher education on our island.

For more information, visit our Enrollment Management website.

Aloha,

Don Straney

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