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Tag: Community Outreach

Chancellor’s Monthly Column, Nov. 2019: About our responsibility to the community

By Bonnie D. Irwin

Bonnie D. Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

Our island recently lost a true pillar of the community with the passing of Barry Taniguchi. Our island and state mourn with Barry’s ‘ohana as we honor his extraordinary dedication to our island’s communities and to the health and well-being of our island’s people.

Barry’s legacy is an inspiration to us all to persist in our pursuit of building and strengthening our island communities for the benefit of all. After attending his funeral and hearing all the moving eulogies, I came away with a profound sense of responsibility to the community, thinking about how we all must step up to fill the void he’s left behind; I felt inspired to help move the community forward.

So here I would like to communicate some of the ways the UH Hilo ‘ohana is serving our community, driven by the goal of bettering this place in which we are privileged to live. I’ll also share some thoughts about how I envision expanding and strengthening our outreach into the future.

Economic development

Through consultation with community leaders throughout the region, UH Hilo adjusts and develops academic programs to meet workforce needs. We’ve seen this in recently established baccalaureate programs in accounting and environmental science, graduate programs in conservation biology and heritage management, and doctoral programs in nursing practice and Hawaiian and Indigenous language and culture revitalization. Graduates from these programs are professionals woven into the fabric of our communities, doing the work that improves the quality of life for everyone.

When talking about regional economic development, it’s important to note the important work of our business college alumni. Graduates from the College of Business and Economics are managers, financial advisers, accountants, bankers, entrepreneurs, and business professionals who help our local citizens with their personal and professional business needs.

Looking ahead, programs in the planning stage are baccalaureate degrees in the emerging fields of aeronautical science and data science. In speaking with our nursing and pharmacy faculty, I have learned of our work in integrated health care and rural health, where health professionals working in teams are needed to provide the best level of service. We are also assembling a group on campus to start financial literacy programming in order to help our students and their families not only navigate the costs of college, but also prepare to be fiscally responsible citizens.

I look forward to working with Hawai‘i Community College Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas and other regional leaders to determine how best our institutions can continue to prepare a workforce for the future.

Regional sustainability

Between our campus composting program, energy reduction efforts, and agriculture and science programs, UH Hilo is modeling sustainable practices and continually looking to improve these practices. We are doing our part in helping our island home become more self-sufficient, utilizing the expertise of our faculty and staff, and inspiring our students to find new ways of stewarding our environment for future generations.

As part of our strategy to implement the UH System Sustainability Policy, we’re looking to increase courses that integrate sustainability through ‘āina- and culture-based curricula and activities such as service-learning and undergraduate research. Our students benefit greatly from a learning environment that speaks to our island culture and is infused with local languages, protocols, values, wisdoms, expertise, and ways of knowing about sustainability.

P-20 education

Education is our core business, of course, and we partner with local schools in numerous ways. ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center is inspiring thousands of island keiki to pursue science through the lens of Hawaiian culture. I had the opportunity to visit Pūnana Leo o Hilo and Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu to see our language revitalization efforts in action in Hawaiian immersion schools. I have learned about the various fitness and athletics activities, from sports clinics staffed by our student athletes to the children’s swim program that our campus recreation department hosts every summer. And, of course, our School of Education continues to provide training and continuing education for local teachers.

Civic education

I often say that if we cannot have respectful conversations about controversial issues on a university campus, it probably won’t happen anywhere. We not only model how to do this, but teach our students the value of respect and empathy for others. We partner with local professionals in this work, and this is an area upon which we can build, especially at a time when our country and state are dealing with weighty issues about which there are many perspectives. I hope to expand these efforts to encompass community dialogues.

I look forward to learning more about the needs of our communities, island, state and region, and doing all I can to position and adapt UH Hilo to help bring an exciting and bright future to all. Mahalo for all your support.

Aloha,

Bonnie Irwin

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Annual Hawai‘i Island United Way general campaign now underway

This is the time of year that we, as a university, come together to strengthen our community by pledging during the annual United Way General Campaign.

Logo:

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

For more than 50 years, Hawai‘i Island United Way, Inc. (HIUW) has been the cornerstone of our island’s health and human service community. Thanks to your annual monetary donation, HIUW is able to help those less fortunate or down on their luck in our community, nurture individuals and families, identify specific needs and fill them, and help build a safer and healthier community.

This is the time of year that we as a university come together to strengthen our community by pledging during the annual United Way General Campaign. Now, more than ever, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo ‘ohana can support to keep these life-changing programs alive on Hawai‘i Island. See how our response to past campaigns has positively impacted the services and resources at HIUW.org. Educational, financial, and health benefits are extended to our families, friends and students through these agencies.

Please consider donating or pledging your support today! Pledge application forms were distributed to all campus units. Payroll deductions make it easy to give, and all donations make a difference here on Hawai‘i Island. Send your pledge form with your cash, check, credit card number or payroll deduction directly to Lei Kapono, Office of the Chancellor, by November 15, 2019. Additional forms are available.

Pūpūkahi I Holumua – Unite to Move Forward. Join in supporting diverse programs that are critical to the well-being of our communities.

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor

D. Lei Kapono
Interim Assistant to the Chancellor and UH Hilo HIUW Coordinator

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Public is invited to attend UH Hilo Strategic Planning Summit, Sept. 25-26, registration now open

Summit participants will discuss the university’s past and future, dreams and actions, possibilities and specifics.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo invites the public to a strategic planning summit to be held Sept. 25-26, 2019. The Seeds of Opportunity Strategic Planning Summit will give members of the general public a chance to share their perspectives and to co-create the future of the university. The summit will be held in the Performing Arts Hall at the Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, 113 Nowelo Street (photo above). The event is free and advance registration is required.

The summit caps the university’s strategic pre-planning stage of collecting information to help inform a new strategic planning process. The conversations at this summit, along with those from a recent listening tour with faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members, and business partners, will help move the university forward into the planning stage.

Summit participants, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, community partners, and guest event facilitators, will discuss the university’s past and future, dreams and actions, possibilities and specifics.

For the summit schedule and to register, see Seeds of Opportunity Strategic Planning website.

For any questions, contact Strategic Planning Project Manager Kathleen Baumgardner.

 

Related stories:

Listening Tour underway to plan for UH Hilo’s new Strategic Plan

UH Hilo ​Strategic ​Planning​ Listening Tour: Bridging barriers and expanding access through distance learning

UH Hilo ​S​trategic ​P​lanning​ Listening Tour: ​Edwin H. ​Mookini Library​ staff prepares to migrate library management system

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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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Chancellor Bonnie Irwin’s first monthly column, July 2019: UH Hilo as a gateway for upward mobility

It is the university’s responsibility to take the lead in stewardship of regional economics, education, and improving the quality of life for all our island citizens and their communities.

By Bonnie D. Irwin

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

As I begin my tenure as chancellor at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, I find a campus community hard at work preparing to develop a new strategic plan. Through a series of over 40 discussions that began last fall with faculty, staff, students and the local community, information is being gleaned and groundwork laid to produce a collaborative plan to achieve the highest of aspirations.

My favorite definition of leadership is that it is a process of moving an organization from its current reality to its aspirations. My first task at UH Hilo is to listen and learn what the campus and community aspirations are and then focus our energy toward achieving them, all the while making sure we are ambitious enough in those aspirations to really help the island with its needs—economic, educational, and cultural—while also protecting the ‘āina through sustainable activities.

I take this responsibility to heart. I strongly believe in the concept of regional stewardship for comprehensive universities: i.e., that a primary mission of our campus is to lift up the region, in this case Hawai‘i Island. One of the reasons I wanted to come to UH Hilo is because of our unique cultural emphasis in programs and curriculum, notably the acclaimed work being done to revitalize Native Hawaiian language and culture for the benefit of not only Hawai‘i’s indigenous people but also everyone in the state. The future of our university and our local community are inextricably linked.

Let me share some thoughts about where my attention is already focused.

I envision UH Hilo as a gateway for upward mobility. This means educating and preparing our students for meaningful employment that not only brings them a high quality of life but also lifts up their families and communities. One effective way to prepare students for important regional work is to increase student engagement in applied learning and independent research for benefit of the community and the environment; UH Hilo already excels at this in several fields and I would like to explore ways to open up this opportunity to even more students.

Traditionally we think of higher education as preparing young women and men for their future, but national trends are moving toward developing a new higher education model that also meets the needs of non-traditional students returning to finish a degree. This is a challenge facing universities throughout the country and if we want to stay current, we will need to adapt to this emerging trend not only to properly serve our region but also to thrive as an institution of higher education.

Woven into advancing the university to meet the needs of a modern student population is the challenge to improve retention and graduation rates. I support wholeheartedly the current ongoing efforts at UH Hilo to develop best practices to enable students to pursue their aspirations with purpose and confidence through to graduation and beyond, whether the student wishes to further her or his education or launch a meaningful career. I look forward to working with faculty and student affairs professionals to develop and strengthen innovative and effective ways to meet this challenge.

I am pleased to see UH Hilo placing a high importance on practicing, teaching, and researching sustainability and protecting the ‘āina, both on campus and in our island environment. Every student has a role to play—now and in the future—to help heal the emerging environmental crises facing our island, state, and Pacific region, and the university community and our graduates should be leaders and role models in this field.

We cannot achieve our aspirations alone. Building on partnerships with the local community, government agencies, and non-profit organizations, along with strengthening UH Hilo’s relationship with Hawai‘i Community College and partnering more with the Pālamanui campus, are crucial to all our success.

It is the university’s responsibility to take the lead in stewardship of regional economics, education, and improving the quality of life for all our island citizens and their communities. I start my new position as a chancellor ready to listen, learn, and collaborate as we prepare a new strategic plan for the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

I mua!

Bonnie D. Irwin

 

Photo at top by Raiatea Arcuri: UH Hilo main entrance at West Kāwili Street.

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