Skip to content →

Tag: Bonnie Irwin

Chancellor Irwin interviewed on Hawai‘i Public Radio

Banner: Hawaii Public Radio. Radio with Vision. Listen and see.

Sherrie Bracken at Hawai‘i Public Radio interviews UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin.

Education has shifted to the phrase “distance learning”—and that’s true at every level—including for college students. But that’s just one of the adjustments that has taken place at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Sound bar

Bonnie Irwin is the chancellor at University of Hawaii at Hilo. Normally, campus is bustling, with around 33 hundred students and 250 full time faculty, plus 600 support staff.  Like the other UH campuses, all classes are now online. But campus is not deserted.

“We still have just over 200 students living in our residence halls. For some of those students it’s actually a better place for them to be than at their homes because of the spread of the virus. We have to have support people in place to support those students.  Other offices, most of them are on a rotational basis.”

Irwin says there have been challenges in the new online learning model for both students and faculty.

“We spent a lot of time during spring break putting together a training program, resources for faculty. Faculty are stepping up to help each other. Not to say that people still aren’t struggling. We are keeping our library open for students and faculty only so both our students in residence and our local students have a place to come to use the wifi and use computers. We have students who don’t have internet access at home. ”

UH campuses have been trying to increase enrollment, and the COVID-19 crisis may influence the future decisions of students and their parents.

“We’re actually hoping a lot of our Hawaii resident students think seriously about UH so they can stay closer to home.”

Irwin says she and her team are planning for fall, for both online classes and ways students can still be involved on campus with whatever constraints exist.

Comments closed

Chancellor’s Monthly Column, May 2020: The story we will tell

The post-COVID UH Hilo will be a different place, to be sure, but it will still be guided by the same values of community, student support, diversity, and excellence that characterize our university today.

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

April and May are generally a time of great celebration at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, and I know many of us are feeling the loss of various events and rituals that are going to look substantially different this year. The most notable, of course, is commencement, with its pomp and circumstance, ritual and joy. This year, we are putting together a virtual ceremony, along with giving students the option of returning when we are allowed to come together again to celebrate their accomplishments in person.

However important the ceremony, though, the accomplishment still is the most important thing. Students who have spent years working toward their degree will still have that certification in hand if they finish the last of their graduation requirements this year, and as we emerge from the COVID crisis into a new world, we will need the skills that we have helped those students acquire. And even though students and families may miss the event itself, I know each and every student will have memories of UH Hilo that they will carry with them into their personal and professional lives.

May is also the time we traditionally honor our retirees, award winners, and those who have contributed 10, 20, or 30 years of service to our wonderful university. That celebration, too, will be different this year. We are preparing a video tribute as well as inviting all those being recognized back to campus at a later date when we may congratulate them in person. Our retirees, after an aggregate total of 411 years of service to UH Hilo, are entering the next chapter of their lives into a world that has many unknowns. Plans have been disrupted; changes are still underway, but that does not diminish the value of their work here at our university. Likewise, our years-of-service honorees, with a sum total of 390 years, and our award winners are working steadily behind the scenes at home or behind a mask on campus to continue to support this university we all cherish.

The post-COVID UH Hilo will be a different place, to be sure, but it will still be guided by the same values of community, student support, diversity, and excellence that characterize our university today. Our Hoku-pa‘a (our North Star, fixed for our navigation) is still the success of each of our students, and as we make sacrifices now to protect our future, it is these students who will remain our focus. How we best support them while keeping ourselves safe and healthy and with a constrained budget is our challenge, and I am confident that working together, we will meet it.

Whenever something does not go quite the way I had planned, I tell myself, “Well, at least I’ll have a story to tell.” The story we will have to tell about this time in the history of UH Hilo is a powerful one that will resonate for many years to come. This year’s students and staff have made sacrifices, have given up important events, in order to keep our families and communities safe. We have learned what we are capable of, what really matters, and what we can do when we all put our ideas and efforts together.

Congratulations to the class of 2020, and mahalo to the faculty and staff that have all worked to help get our students over the finish line in a time of unprecedented challenge. I will be telling your story for a long time to come.

Be well and stay safe.


Bonnie D. Irwin


Photo of mortarboard by Raiatea Arcuri, Spring 2019 Commencement.

Comments closed

Faculty & Staff invited to “Brown Bag with Bonnie,” May 8, via Zoom

Faculty and staff are invited to the next “Brown Bag with Bonnie,” a live Q & A, Friday, May 8, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. via Zoom. Zoom info is found below.

Chancellor Bonnie Irwin will be joined by guests Ken Hon, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, Farrah-Marie Gomes, vice chancellor for student affairs, and Kalei Rapoza, vice chancellor for administrative affairs.

Zoom link:
Meeting ID: 931 1931 0980; Password: 703560

More info, contact Deneen Louie.


Comments closed

Happy Administrative Professionals Day!


Spring typically brings excitement to any university campus as we prepare for commencement and celebrate accomplishments.

If this were any other year, we would be celebrating Earth Day this week, and all of the many connections we have with this awe-inspiring place in which we live.

If this were any other year, I would also be taking the staff in the administrative building out to lunch because it is also Administrative Professionals Day! Lunch and flowers will have to wait until we are all together on campus again, but even in the online environment, I can say “thank you”!

I hope administrators, faculty, and students will join me in thanking our hard-working administrative professionals today. Our clerical and APT staff are the backbone of our campus, supporting us in myriad ways. Even while working from home, they are keeping us going, making sure our operations are running smoothly as we try to finish the semester strong for the sake of our students and our community.

MAHALO for everything you do for us! I look forward to seeing all those smiling faces when we are all allowed to return to our posts. On behalf of the whole campus, I thank you for your dedication to UH Hilo and our students.

Bonnie D. Irwin, Chancellor

Photo of white hibiscus by Bonnie Irwin.

Comments closed

LISTEN: UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin talks with “Island Conversations” host Sherry Bracken

UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin talks about challenges, and the basics of UH Hilo and her goals, with Island Conversations host Sherry Bracken.

Image of radio player with Chancellor Irwin's photo.

University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin stepped into the job on July 1, 2019. Now, she’s facing challenges in helping students have a college experience while dealing with COVID-19. She talks about that and other challenges, and the basics of UH Hilo and her goals, with Island Conversations host Sherry Bracken.


Comments closed