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Tag: Community Outreach

Chancellor’s Monthly Column, Dec. 2019: Expressing gratitude for what the community does for UH Hilo

Above: Interns, mentors, alumni, and staff from the Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science, known as PIPES, celebrate winning the Outstanding Leadership Award at the 26th Annual Hawai‘i Conservation Conference held in Honolulu, July 10, 2019. PIPES is a wonderful example of professionals and experts in the local community providing some of the best learning experiences for students. Courtesy photo.

By Bonnie D. Irwin

Bonnie D. Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

One of the things I love most about the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is the way the community is so intricately woven into the university’s success. This is the beauty of regional universities: the community and university are interconnected, so the people are interconnected, and all are working together to help everyone move successfully into the future.

As we near the end of the year, a time to celebrate the holidays, I’d like to take this opportunity to express gratitude for what the community does for UH Hilo, especially for our students.

For example, a mainstay to the university’s success is the many partnerships we have with businesses, schools, organizations, agencies, and community groups across the island that provide some of the best learning experiences for our students. One area where this is especially effective is in internships.

Internships put students in real-world situations that give them the opportunity to use the skills and knowledge they are developing in their academic work. Many of our students are working with local groups to conduct research and do community outreach that befits everyone and, in many cases, the environment. None if this would be possible without the successful business people, exemplary professionals, and dedicated public servants who mentor and support our students.

For example, a cohort from our tropical conservation biology and environmental science graduate program has recently completed internships on the island at several different organizations: Hawai‘i Island Hawksbill Sea Turtle Recovery Project, the Big Island Invasive Species Committee, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Hui Mālama I ke Ala ‘Ūlili, and Hawai‘i Natural Area Reserve System. In each of these projects, experts in their field mentor our students in research and/or community service projects—on behalf of the university, let me say mahalo to each and every one of you for taking these students under your wings.

About 35 of our business students did or are doing internships in the community in 2019. Some of these are with local businesses such as HPM Building Supply (owned by the Fujimoto family, who also has established an endowment that benefits students in the College of Business and Economics) and Suisan, Hilo’s commercial fishing hub. These internships are established by longtime Hilo families who care about our students and who value our students’ contributions to their companies—our appreciation to the owners and employees of these businesses is immense.

Over the years, marine science students have interned with several local businesses in both professional and research-based positions: Kampachi Farms, Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System, Ke Kai Ola of The Marine Mammal Center. Quite a few of the interns have been hired at the place where they interned such as at the Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center, Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm, Kona Diving, and Hawai‘i Wildlife Center. At each of these places our students found dedicated mentors who not only guided them in the task at hand, but also helped them find the path to their future—mahalo to you.

These are just a few examples of members of our community who dedicate their time and expertise to our students and to whom we feel much gratitude—mahalo all.

I would be remiss in writing a column on gratitude to not include two groups of people who are foundational blocks of UH Hilo.

I send a big aloha to our Vulcan Booster Club. The club receives donations from alumni, friends, and family to provide student-athletes with the support they need—through scholarships and other funding—to succeed in sports AND in their academics. And Boosters are the biggest, most enthusiastic fans at the games! A big mahalo to all members of the club.

Before I close, let me send a big aloha and mahalo to the many donors who contributed to UH Hilo this year. Behind every donation is someone who really cares about our students. Some donors see it as an investment in the future. Alumni donors may see it as a way to pay it forward. All see it as a way to expand access to higher education and help students get their degree so they can successfully move into the future to change the world.

From the bottom of my heart, mahalo to all for your support of UH Hilo.

Aloha,

Bonnie D. Irwin

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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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