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Tag: Bonnie Irwin

Chancellor’s Monthly Column, April 2020: The meaning of essential

In Governor Ige’s stay-at-home order, he exempted a number of “essential” services: health care, first responders, gas stations and grocery stores, mail and shipping, transportation, and, indeed, education. Being on that list gives us in higher education a special responsibility.

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

How do we define “essential”? It’s been used in many ways in recent weeks, and how we understand it differs with the context and the speaker.

When helping my mother in California stock up for stay-at-home living, essential meant coffee, butter, and, yes, toilet paper. Upon returning, when my husband went to the store so I could stay in self quarantine, it meant chicken soup and chocolate cake. My mother’s list demonstrates her simpler needs, learned from growing up in the depression. Mine are built around that which brings me comfort. In both cases, however, “essential” also was limited to what we need for the next two weeks, immediate needs. I am confident that the supply chains are intact.

When we think of what essential means at the university we also distinguish between immediate needs and long-term success. If we had a hurricane bearing down on us, our sense of immediacy would be quite different than what we need now for the long haul of the rest of the semester and perhaps beyond.

In Governor Ige’s stay-at-home order, he exempted a number of “essential” services: health care, first responders, gas stations and grocery stores, mail and shipping, transportation, and, indeed, education. Being on that list gives us in higher education a special responsibility, both to our students, some of whom are still living in our residence halls, and our community, which depends upon us to continue building toward the future. Our students and their families have made an investment in us; we are essential to their success.

On campus we need security, maintenance and custodial staff, housing staff, library staff, mail room staff, and many others who cannot do their work from home. We also need all those people who are working at home on our behalf because each of us has an important role to play in keeping our university functioning and keeping our students on track.

We have folks working on campus who would rather be home; we have folks at home who would rather be at the office. Our specific roles largely determine how and where we work, but all of us need to cooperate in order to see our students through to the finish line.

Sometimes those of us who do not have direct contact with students very often can feel that our efforts are not actually critical for student success, but each one of us plays a role in keeping our institution healthy and available to our students and community.

All of the above are “essentials” in one way or another, but each of us has other things in our lives that we consider essential. A walk in nature to appreciate the ‘āina, a piece of art or music that moves us, a book that lets us escape to another world, even for a short while.

In the end, however, the thing that might be most essential is human connection. As I see examples from across the island and the world of people stepping up to help others—whether it is reserving special shopping hours for kupuna, providing meals for those keiki who depend on school lunches, sewing face masks for medical professionals, or sharing helpful resources to cheer up someone—I know we will come out on the other side of this crisis stronger.

We all need one another, and in that regard, each of us is essential.

Aloha to you and yours. Stay safe.

Bonnie D. Irwin

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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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UH Hilo community is invited to “Brown Bag with Bonnie,” March 11. UPDATE: This event is canceled

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

UPDATE: This event is canceled.

The campus community is invited to an informal gathering with University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin.

The next “Brown Bag with Bonnie” will be held on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, noon to 1:00 p.m. at Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy (above), lecture hall A.

Bring a brown bag lunch for this informal talk-story gathering.

Chancellor Irwin holds Brown Bag events every month or so. For more information, contact University Relations.

 

Photo of Pharmacy Building by Raiatea Arcuri.

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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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UH Hilo community is invited to “Brown Bag with Bonnie,” an informal gathering, Feb. 12

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

The campus community is invited to an informal gathering with University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Bonnie. D. Irwin.

This month’s “Brown Bag with Bonnie” will be held on Wednesday, Feb.12, 2020, noon to 1:00 p.m. at the Student Services Center (above), room W201.

Bring a brown bag lunch for this informal talk-story gathering.

Chancellor Irwin holds Brown Bag events every month or so. For more information, contact University Relations.

 

Photo of Student Services Center by Raiatea Arcuri.

 

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