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Chancellor’s Monthly Column, March 2020: Looking back, looking ahead

The last UH Hilo Strategic Plan guided our efforts in student success, diversity, research, and community collaboration. But the work of bettering ourselves and our campus is not over; hence the strategic doing initiative that we begin now.

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

Preparation is well underway in developing a new Strategic Plan at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. As we prepare to launch our “Strategic Doing Initiative” that will lay out new long-term goal areas for the campus and identify priorities for action, it pays to reflect on our previous strategic plan and how far we have come over the last decade, despite the many challenges faced as a campus and community.

Too often strategic plans are put on a shelf or posted on a website and forgotten, but just because we may not be able to rattle off all the goals and objectives in the last plan, it does not mean that plan has not guided our efforts in student success, diversity, research, and community collaboration.

Let me share a few examples of our progress.

Place-based learning experiences

One of our main goals is to provide learning experiences and support to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate, and lead in their professional and personal lives. We are making good progress in this area.

Our students are doing their studies in a culturally, economically, socially, and geographically diverse place, the perfect preparation for being productive citizens in a global community. Anchoring this diversity is the recognition that an important knowledge base resides in the indigenous people of Hawai‘i—a concept now policy for the UH System.

It is from this foundation of diversity and Native Hawaiian ways-of-knowing that UH Hilo now grows, and you can see it in new programs.

For example, the kinesiology and exercise sciences program just won a national award for inclusive excellence and diversity; the nursing program has a strong transcultural component; medical anthropology focuses on effects of globalization on health disparities; and programs in sustainable agriculture and environmental science have strong Native Hawaiian influence. These programs and more are building relevant intellectual capital for our region to address the challenges of a diverse population and fragile environment. Our graduates are prepared to lead the way.

Vibrant campus

Another goal, aimed to foster a vibrant and sustainable environment in which to study, work and live, has also made great strides.

We now have six living-learning communities where students thrive. Technology upgrades, new student media rooms, and expansion of Wi-Fi have helped bring our campus into the modern world. Several solar-powered gathering spaces have been built with more planned. Library hours are extended. Both the Campus Center Dining Room and Mookini Library have undergone redesigns that engender rest, conversation, and rejuvenation.

And a UH Hilo Sustainability Policy is now in place, governing virtually all growth on campus. Photo-voltaic is part of all new construction. Electric demand meters have been installed to track usage. LED light conversion is completed in over 20 buildings. Student-driven programs to recycle, compost (including food waste), and maintain sustainable gardens on campus are established. The new data science program, supported by the National Science Foundation, is part of a statewide water sustainability project. This is great progress.

Regional stewardship

I’d also like to highlight the good progress we’ve made in the goal that addresses our impact on the community, island, and state through responsive higher education, community partnerships, and knowledge and technology transfer.

We have strengthened the P-12 pipeline through programs such as Early College and Upward Bound; Nā Pua No‘eau, established at UH Hilo, now a UH systemwide program in support of Native Hawaiian students; and Hawaiian language medium schools thriving throughout the state.

We work with and provide technology, expertise, and research data to many government agencies—County of Hawai‘i, National Park Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service, to name a few—in tackling local environmental problems such as lava flows, soil erosion, and Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death.

On campus, the tenants at UH Hilo University Park of Science and Technology help advance our entire community through partnerships between the university and public and private organizations. UH Hilo also now partners extensively with Hawai‘i Community College, sharing resources, facilities, services, pipelines for transfer, Hawaiian protocol development, and expertise.

Of course, the work of bettering ourselves and our campus is not over; hence the strategic doing initiative that we begin now. What we value remains constant: creating environments in which students will thrive and succeed; bettering our local community, island and state through our research and community outreach; and, fostering a respectful and supportive workplace for our staff and faculty.

Aloha,
Bonnie D. Irwin

 

Feature image at top of post is of painting, “Voyage of the Navigator,” by Clayton Young (11X14, 2013), courtesy of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center.

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Recruitment launched for vice chancellor for academic affairs

Aloha UH Hilo ‘ohana,

The recruitment for the vice chancellor for academic affairs position is now launched by the national executive search firm WittKieffer.

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Mahalo to all of you who participated in the leadership profile forums held on January 27. WittKieffer and the search committee have been moving the process along to complete the search by the end of this spring, with the new vice chancellor in place in the fall.

Bonnie D. Irwin

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Fall 2019 End-of-Year Message to UH Hilo ‘Ohana from Chancellor Irwin

We have a wonderful ‘ohana here who cares deeply about students and about bettering the community in which we live. Thanks to each of you for your many contributions to our mission over the last several months.

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

When I first arrived at UH Hilo this summer, I came full of hope for the future of our campus, our students, and our community, and I am happy to say that my many meetings with people both on and off campus have only strengthened that hope and made me even more optimistic. We have a wonderful ‘ohana here who cares deeply about students and about bettering the community in which we live. Thanks to each of you for your many contributions to our mission over the last several months.

As we near the end of the year, and our attention begins to turn to commencement and the holidays, I’d like to share with you just a few of my favorite highpoints of this semester.

Academics

A group of people standing in front of the new red pharmacy building.
Attendees of the Grand Opening for the new UH Hilo College of Pharmacy building gather for blessing and then tours of the facilities, Dec. 4, 2019. Photo by Raiatea Arcuri.

Construction is finished on the new building for the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy! It took many people working together for many years to bring this beautiful building to fruition. The modern facilities beckon students to come here to study in a unique rural environment with an incredibly supportive community. Seeing the pride in the faces of our pharmacy students at the grand opening was such a joy. I have all confidence they will be top performers in their field, helping make the world a better place.

Nursing cohort in white coats pose for photo.
Members of the first cohort of doctor of nursing students at their commencement. Courtesy photo.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education reaccredited our Doctor of Nursing Practice program through 2029, the maximum 10-year term. The program currently has 28 students, and has graduated 39 students since 2015. The DNP is a terminal degree in nursing and provides training to become a family nurse practitioner. There also is a leadership track. The doctoral level education focuses on primary care, cultural diversity, health disparities, health promotion, and disease prevention in rural communities to raise the quality of health for the people of our island and state.

A group of women soccer players posing for a picture
The Vulcan 2018-2019 women’s soccer team had seven Division II Athletics Directors Association Academic Achievement Award recipients. Courtesy photo from Athletics Dept.

Thirty-one UH Hilo student-athletes received Division II Academic Achievement Awards. The honorees for 2018-2019 are three more than the previous year. The program recognizes the academic accomplishments of Division II student-athletes; our student-athletes’ grade point averages are higher than they have ever been. This is quite an accomplishment! Awardees have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher, attended school a minimum of four semesters, and been an active team member during this past academic year. Congratulations to all!

Campus Life

Overhead view of a large group of people posing for the camera.
UH Hilo’s fall 2018 freshman class. Courtesy photo from University Relations.

We started the fall semester with U.S. News and World Report ranking UH Hilo as most ethnically diverse campus among national universities. In the 2020 report of college rankings, UH Hilo received a diversity index of 77 percent. We are proud to serve such a diverse group of students—the assets they bring to UH Hilo enrich our community and help us provide an inclusive, high-quality education for all our students.

A person sitting at a table in front of a window
Two students at the new Library Lounge in the lobby of Mookini Library enjoy a new seating area with furniture made from local woods. Photo by Raiatea Arcuri.

Our university ‘ohana returned from summer break to find a newly furnished lanai and lobby at Mookini Library. With an innovative design connected to nature, the library entranceway now immerses patrons in natural elements with comfortable seating made with local woods, tables shaped like rivers, images of ‘ōhi‘a blooms, and the aroma of fresh brewed local coffee. It’s a comfortable and welcoming place to study, meet up, or sit quietly to collect one’s thoughts. I have seen students gathered there from dawn to well into the evening hours.

A group of people in the food pantry, canned food stocked on shelf
Last semester at the “soft opening” of the food pantry, staff stocked the shelves. From left, Fred Dela Cruz, Building and Maintenance Worker; Eric Rodrigues, Plumber; Shay Hara, Auxiliary and Facilities Services Officer; Kapena Desa, Building and Maintenance Worker. In back is Calvin Fukuhara, Building and Maintenance Supervisor. Courtesy photo.

Hale Pa‘i ‘Ai food pantry is now officially opened and has food available to any UH Hilo student in need of food assistance. Following guidance from the UH System Food Insecurity Committee, our pantry helps those in need, relieving some of the stress of tight budgets and limited resources. We want all our students to be fueled up and ready to learn, not distracted by trying times and nagging hunger. All UH Hilo students in need of food assistance are encouraged to stop by the food pantry during hours of operation!

Administration

Two women, one holding microphone, smiling for the camera
Hosting the first wala‘au.

I teamed up with Hawai‘i Community College Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas to host the first wala‘au, a public conversation, about a collective vision of the future. Dialogue and listening were the main goals at the lunch session; Chancellor Solemsaas and I share a passion for community engagement and shared kuleana between the two institutions. Faculty, staff, and administrators from both campuses shared their insights, concerns, and vision of the future for Hawai‘i Island’s students, particularly transfer students, and about how we can work together to build strong pathways between our campuses for student success. College and university leadership is now working to build on the ideas shared at that session.

Logo with seed sprouting with words: Seeds of Opportunity Strategic Planning Summit.UH Hilo also hosted a strategic planning summit. The Seeds of Opportunity Summit gave the campus community and general public a chance to share their mana‘o about the future of the university. The summit capped our strategic pre-planning stage of collecting information for the strategic planning process. Every participant at the summit had a voice, and the conversations, along with those from the recent listening tour with faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members, and business partners, will help move the university forward into the important strategic planning stage.

Mahalo

Mahalo to the university ‘ohana for your hard work in making these and many other accomplishments possible. I wish you all a productive end of the semester and wonderful holiday season. I’ll see you at 2019 Fall Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 21, 9:00 a.m. at the UH Hilo Vulcan Gym.

Aloha,

Bonnie D. Irwin

 

Header photo: New building for the UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. Photo credit: Raiatea Arcuri.

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Chancellor’s Monthly Column, Oct. 2019: Time to listen, time to learn

By Bonnie D. Irwin

When I first visited the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo nearly a year ago for my interview, I was asked what I might do in the first six months, and my response was, “listen.” In the months since I arrived, I have had the opportunity to meet with some business leaders and community groups, and with the arrival of the faculty back on campus, I have started visiting the various units on campus as well. There are so many good ideas and so many people of good will. My “listening tour” will take months to complete, but I’d like to share a recent event with you that shows so well the collaborative spirit of our campus ‘ohana.

On Sept. 20, Hawai‘i Community College Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas hosted me and others from UH Hilo for a joint wala‘au or discussion about the future of our campuses (photo of us at wala‘au at top of this column). Faculty, staff, and administrators from both campuses were invited to share their mana‘o and their vision of the future for Hawai‘i Island’s students, particularly transfer students. Specifically, we focused on ways to build strong pathways of student success between Hawai‘i CC and UH Hilo.

Over soup and sandwiches, we discussed strategies to smooth the way for students interested in transferring from Hawai‘i CC to UH Hilo. It was an exciting session filled with hope for the future of our students and Hawai‘i Island.

People shared examples of what is working, and some shared stories about successful classes and spaces, and about hardworking support staff helping students struggling with the transition.

We also identified areas still to work on: aligning curriculum and our learning expectations, so that students who move from one institution to the other do not lose any time toward completing their degree; minimizing the paperwork for transfers, and even better, imagining what dual enrollment might look like. What if a student could be admitted to both schools at the same time and just move seamlessly from one to the next at the appropriate time? Indeed, when we took a poll among those in attendance, “seamless” was the word most often mentioned as what we would like the students to experience as a successful transfer.

Farrah-Marie Gomes speaks, holding microphone, people listening seated at tables behind her.
UH Hilo Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Farrah-Marie Gomes shares her mana‘o with the group at the first joint wala‘au or discussion about the future of UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College, Sept. 20, 2019. Photos of wala‘au by Raiatea Arcuri.

Some of the people at the wala‘au shared programs they were working on that might accomplish that seamless transition. The energy and good will in the room was palpable. I met faculty and staff who have worked at both campuses, and they shared what they thought we could improve, and along with the two chancellors and our teams, committed to working together in the future.

Other highlights from the listening tour thus far:

  • Meeting the Vulcan Booster Club and seeing their enthusiastic support for our student-athletes
  • Learning about the partnerships our Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science graduate program has with local and state agencies
  • Sitting down with our marketing committee to chat about how we can better tell the story of UH Hilo
  • An open meeting with students in which I could hear their concerns directly
  • Talking with staff of the Division of Student Affairs and learning how we can build on the excellent programs we have and build even better support for our students outside the classroom
  • Touring Hale‘olelo, the College of Hawaiian Language, and seeing the ways in which we are helping to revitalize Hawaiian language and culture
  • And many other meetings with faculty and staff from departments throughout campus

At the core of these meetings and discussions I consistently find in people a deep sense of commitment and dedication to our students and a feeling of hope for the future. I want to thank each and every one of you for your support of our students and for constantly striving to improve our services, curriculum, and community outreach. We need to be open minded about how we deliver education and I look forward to more discussions, more sharing, and more learning over the coming months.

Aloha,

Bonnie D. Irwin

 

Photo at top, from left, Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas and Chancellor Bonnie Irwin at wala‘au, Sept. 20. Photo by Raiatea Arcuri.

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Guidance on Instructional Activities Associated With Pu‘uhuluhulu

Memo from UH Vice President for Academic Planning and Policy: The University of Hawai‘i will maintain a learning environment that encourages and accepts the free and fair exchange of ideas.

Donald Straney
Donald Straney

UH Hilo Ohana:

Donald Straney, University of Hawai‘i Vice President for Academic Planning and Policy, has provided a memorandum on Guidance on Instructional Activities Associated With Pu‘uhuluhulu.

MEMORANDUM

August 7, 2019

TO: Members of the UH Faculty and Staff
FROM: Donald 0. Straney, PhD, Vice President for Academic Planning and Policy, UH System

SUBJECT: Guidance on Instructional Activities Associated With Pu‘uhuluhulu

There is a list of courses that faculty are offering for students to take remotely while staying in the Pu‘uhuluhulu region of Hawai‘i Island. The list is primarily built around already existing on-line or independent study options. However, there are also some face-to-face courses listed.

We appreciate faculty support for students who are participating in this important moment in history, and that the learning opportunities presented by the list will in many cases literally bring the course material to life. We know that faculty members who have offered their courses to students who wish to remain away from campus are doing so with respect to the policies and procedures of their campus.

We offer the following guidance to clear up any misconceptions, note current policies that may be applicable, and to make sure we are all aligned in how best to proceed.

[…]

Click here to read full Memorandum.

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