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Chancellor’s Message regarding Maunakea

Dear UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

Since I began at UH Hilo almost three weeks ago, the sense of ‘ohana on our campus has been obvious and one of the reasons I came to UH Hilo is because of this kind, caring atmosphere among ourselves and between faculty/staff and students. Our community has weathered numerous challenges over the years, one of the most recent being last year’s eruption that is still impacting members of our campus ‘ohana, and we continue to pull together and support one another despite our hardships and differences. This is a testament to the care and concern we have for each other.

Today, we face a divisive issue in our community with what is happening on Maunakea. Whether you or members in your families and our community have strong opinions about TMT and Maunakea, and knowing that there is an entire spectrum of ideas, beliefs, and emotions, I encourage us all to promote our campus as a safe space where individuals of our campus ‘ohana are free to learn from one another respectfully and safely, regardless of their views about Maunakea, or any issue, that provides all of us with an opportunity for deeper understanding and respect for difference. I, along with the rest of senior leadership at UH Hilo, believe this is the value of our university and we will continue to support free expression and ask that we all commit to maintaining an environment of respect on our campus. I also ask that each of us remember our role as educators and our shared mission to support our students and their educational journeys while at UH Hilo with the University of Hawai‘i Policy of Free Expression in mind:

The University of Hawai‘i is committed to the free and open exchange of ideas and affirms the rights of members of the university community to engage in speech and other expressive activity guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and by Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution of the State of Hawai‘i. These activities may be conducted at such times and places and in such a manner to assure the orderly conduct and least interference with the University responsibilities as a public institution for higher education and scholarly inquiry.

In addition to ensuring people’s right to free expression and assembly, we also have a collective responsibility to our community and constituents to maintain daily operations, even if some of us may be experiencing conflict with decisions surrounding Maunakea. I encourage engaging in a dialogue with your supervisors should you experience difficulties in fulfilling daily responsibilities, in light of this issue. Employees also have access to the University of Hawai‘i Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which offers counseling support for those facing crises and problems that affect work performance. For more information about the EAP, you may go to the WorkLife Hawaii website or call (808) 543 8445 or toll free at (800) 944-3571. I encourage anyone who wishes to do so to reach out to those services.

I have been talking to campus leadership about how we might best prepare to support our students, regardless of what side of the issue they (or we) may be on. Vice Chancellor Farrah-Marie Gomes’s message to the campus last month contained valuable information about support services for students. As a reminder, if you encounter a UH Hilo student in need of support, you may refer them to Counseling Services, to talk with counseling professionals for free. To make a referral, please visit the Counseling Services website, call 932-7465, or email uhhcouns@hawaii.edu.

As challenging as it may be right now, I ask that you remember the good work we do, the students we serve, and the future which we build together. There are many of you whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting yet and I look forward to doing so over the coming weeks and months as we continue to build together a university and community that will serve Hawai‘i well into the future.

Mahalo,

Bonnie

 

Top photo: View of Maunakea from the UH Hilo campus, Feb. 2019. By Raiatea Arcuri.

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Announcement: Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Search Committee named

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

UH Hilo seal, red lettering University of Hawaii and the state motto.I am pleased to announce the appointment of the search committee for the next University of Hawai‘i at Hilo vice chancellor for academic affairs. The committee is expected to begin its work in August.

It is important that we recruit and hire an experienced leader with the vision and energy to develop and advance our campus strategic academic priorities.

The committee is charged with the responsibility of screening applicants, interviewing qualified applicants online and then the finalists in person.

The 13-member committee represents the diverse perspective of the campus including faculty from each of the colleges, the Faculty Congress, and direct reports to the vice chancellor:

Co-Chairs

  • Bruce Matthews, Dean, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management
  • Jené Michaud, Chair and Professor, Department of Geology

Committee members

  • Lois Fujiyoshi, Executive Director, Budget and Business Management
  • Lara Gomez, Director of Clinical Education, Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy
  • Charmaine Higa-McMillan, Professor, Department of Psychology
  • Rodney Jubilado, Chair, Division of Humanities; Associate Professor, Filipino Studies, Department of Languages
  • Jim Mellon, Executive Director, Global and Intercultural Education Programs;
    Director, International Student Services and Intercultural Education, Division of Student Affairs
  • Hiapo Perreira, Associate Professor, Academic Division Chair, Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language
  • Jan Ray, Chair, Faculty Congress; Professor, School of Education
  • Joseph Sanchez, Director, Mookini Library
  • Sijie Sun, Assistant Professor, Marketing, College of Business and Economics
  • Michael Taylor, President, UH Hilo Student Association
  • Shelby Wong, Curriculum, Catalog, Graduate Division Specialist

Mahalo,

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor

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Announcement: New interim dean named for College of Business and Economics

Professor of Management Emmeline de Pillis’s experience working with stakeholders and campus programs will be extremely valuable as she leads the college during this interim period.

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

Emmeline de Pillis
Emmeline de Pillis

Dr. Emmeline de Pillis, professor of management, has agreed to serve as interim dean of the College of Business and Economics (CoBE) effective June 1, 2019. A search for a permanent dean will begin in late fall or early spring.

A graduate of the University of Southern California with a doctor of philosophy in business administration, Dr. de Pillis joined UH Hilo in 1997 and was promoted to the rank of full professor in 2007. She has served as department chair, director of the Office of Applied Learning Experiences (ALEX), chair of the assurance learning committee, and chair of the CoBE faculty senate. She was a member of the University of Hawai‘i System President’s Emerging Leadership Program in 2014.

Dr. de Pillis has developed working relationships with multiple constituencies on campus and in the community and has served on various boards and committees. Her experience working with internal and external stakeholders and with CoBE and campus programs and initiatives will be extremely valuable as she leads the college during this interim period.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. de Pillis into her new role, and thanking Dr. Tam Vu who served as interim dean of CoBE for the past year and congratulating her on her retirement.

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

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End-of-Year Message to UH Hilo ‘Ohana from Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

Marcia Sakai
Marcia Sakai

As we start finals week and look forward to commencement on Saturday, I’d like to share with you a few highlights of the past semester.

Students

Graduate and undergraduate women students planned and organized the inaugural Women in STEM Conference held in February. The all-day event brought together women leaders, scientists, students, and members of the campus community to discuss the current state of affairs for women in the STEM fields. Topics covered social history of women in STEM, the importance of mentorship, the issues of sexual harassment, mental health, the wage gap, work-family-life balance, retaining women STEM students, and creating a supportive climate for underrepresented minorities in STEM.

The concept of a campus food pantry for students in need was developed by business student Jordan Kamimura. Hale Pa‘i ‘Ai, a one-year pilot project that launched a soft opening in April, is officially opening this fall to provide services to students in need of reliable access to food. The Administrative Affairs project is to help students who may experience limited access to food at different times of the year due to lack of money and other resources. Jordan’s business concept includes pop-up concessions on campus to provide funding support.

Marcia Sakai, Jordan Kamimura, and Kalei Rapoza standing in front of the Teapresso concession.
Left to right, Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai, business student Jordan Kamimura, and Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Kalei Rapoza at the rollout event of the Teapresso Bar concession March 13, UH Hilo. The concession will support the new food pantry program on campus; Kamimura created the business plan for the pop-up and food pantry. Photo by Raiatea Arcuri, click to enlarge.

Our Marine Option Program students once again made a big splash at the annual statewide MOP Symposium. Bryant Grady’s project on reef ecology won Best Research Presentation, which has been won by UH Hilo Marine Option Program students for 26 of the past 31 years. Alexa Runyan won the Pacon Award for the best use of technology.

Three UH Hilo students presented their research projects at the annual meeting of the worldwide Society for Applied Anthropology held in Oregon where 2,000 academics and consultants attended the event. UH Hilo undergraduate Alexis Cabrera, with the mentorship of anthropology professor Lynn Morrison, won 3rd prize out of 90 student submissions (mostly master’s and doctoral projects) for her poster presentation.

Senior Rebekah Loving, from Hāmākua and double majoring in computer science and mathematics, is researching RNA sequencing and her work has gained the attention of a “who’s who” of top research universities across the country. Rebekah has received acceptance letters with offers of full funding to doctoral programs in biostatistics, computational biology, and computer science from Harvard, Columbia University, University of California Berkeley, and the California Institute of Technology.

Faculty

The extraordinary work of our faculty was noticed throughout the world.

The Jan. 23 airing of PBS’s NOVA, about the 2018 Kīlauea eruption, prominently featured UH Hilo scientists Cheryl Gansecki and Ryan Perroy and their work on chemistry analysis and aerial monitoring of the flow respectively. Cheryl, a geologist, provided real-time chemistry analysis of lava samples that helped determine how the lava would behave and how fast it would move, crucial information for Civil Defense and other responders. A group of undergraduate and graduate students led by Ryan, a geographer, piloted drones day and night capturing thermo and regular imagery of the lava flows, gathering critical information for the government agencies overseeing the eruption response.

UH Hilo biologist Rebecca Ostertag and geologist Jené Michaud were part of a team awarded an international medal for their paper questioning a fundamental assumption in the field of restoration ecology—the researchers suggest that nonnative, noninvasive plant species can be an important part of Hawaiian forest restoration. The Bradshaw Medal is given by the Society for Ecological Restoration in recognition of a scientific paper published in the Society’s major journal, Restoration Ecology.

Making international news was the story about Maunakea astronomers collaborating with our very own Larry Kimura, renowned Hawaiian language professor and cultural practitioner, for the Hawaiian naming of the black hole recently discovered. Pōwehi, meaning embellished dark source of unending creation, is a name sourced from the Kumulipo, the primordial chant describing the creation of the Hawaiian universe. The name awaits official confirmation, but it has already made the world take notice of the deeply meaningful Native Hawaiian connection to the discovery.

Campus

Early in the semester, we hosted a two-day Islands of Opportunity Alliance conference. UH Hilo administers the alliance, a collaborative group of 10 partner institutions in American Sāmoa, Guam, Hawai‘i, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The partners all share the common goal of increasing underrepresented professionals in STEM fields and together we are working toward more diversity in the quest for and understanding of scientific knowledge.

Roundtable group seated in discussion.
The Islands of Opportunity conference was attended by approximately 30 participants from across the Pacific region, including campus coordinators and administrators from each of the 11 alliance institutions, as well as the governing board, two external advisory boards, and an external NSF evaluator from Washington D.C. Jan. 11, 2019, UH Hilo campus. Photo by Raiatea Arcuri, click to enlarge.

A 40-session listening tour is underway in preparation for UH Hilo’s new strategic plan. The inclusive planning process is creating a strong foundation for a living strategic plan for our campus. Among the members of the UH Hilo ‘ohana, listeners of the tour outcomes will include our new UH Hilo chancellor and a Strategic Planning Committee that will be formed once the permanent chancellor is in place.

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie Irwin

This leads me to the long-awaited news we received of the unanimous approval from the UH Board of Regents in naming our new chancellor Bonnie Irwin. Chancellor-Designate Irwin is looking forward to working with students, faculty, staff, alumni, island leaders and community members to build on the decades of great work to move UH Hilo and the community forward. We will be welcoming her to our university ‘ohana on July 1.

Mahalo

Thank you to everyone for all your hard work and dedication toward making UH Hilo a remarkable place of knowledge and learning. May you all have a successful end of the academic year. I send my congratulations to our spring graduates—you do us proud and I look forward to seeing you make a difference in the world. I wish you all a safe and wonderful summer.

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

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UH Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai meets with local press

Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai hosted a Coffee Hour with the local press today on the campus of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Interim Chancellor Sakai shared the following information in her PowerPoint.

The Flow

Large group of students and staff in orange safety vests, some hollding drones and other equipment.
UH HILO DRONE TEAM. UH Hilo had a vital role in response to the recent historic lava eruption on Hawaiʻi Island. In the photo above, students and staff, four holding drones used in aerial surveys, in the field at recent lava flow in Puna. The team piloted drones day and night to capture thermo data and imagery of lava flows, information critical to government agencies overseeing eruption response. They also analyzed threat to Puna Geothermal. Other teams of scientists analyzed chemistry of lava samples at labs on campus. Courtesy photo, click to enlarge.

UH Hilo Most Diverse Four-Year University in the Nation

Large group of students looking up to camera.
Freshman class during Orientation in August 2018. Courtesy photo, click to enlarge.

UH Hilo was recently ranked the Most Diverse 4-Year University in the Nation by the Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac 2018.

The Chronicle’s ranking of the top 10 most diverse public four-year universities and their corresponding diversity indexes:

  1. UH Hilo, 88.9
  2. Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology at Okmulgee, 87.1
  3. UH Maui College, 86.5
  4. UH West Oʻahu, 84.5
  5. Highline College, 81.9
  6. UH Mānoa, 81.6
  7. California State University, East Bay, 79.3
  8. Rutgers University-Newark, 78.9
  9. New Jersey Institute of Technology, 78.5
  10. Seattle Central College, 78.0
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