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Tag: Community Outreach

Chancellor’s Message: New program will help produce a generation of big data scientists

This type of data specialty is of the utmost importance to moving our island communities and fragile ecosystems into the future successfully.

By Don Straney.

UH Hilo seal, red with the words University of Hawaii ant the state motto.The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo takes seriously its responsibility to be a good steward to our island’s people, culture and natural resources. This summer the university will be taking the first steps toward creating a new Data Science program to the benefit of Hilo and other island communities here and throughout the Pacific.

The first of four tenure-track professors who will lead the program starts his work with us in August. Grady Weyenberg, who grew up in Hilo, is a statistician and will be joined in the near future by additional experts in mathematics, computer science, and the natural and social sciences to help build the program.

The program is part of a statewide project funded by the National Science Foundation, which awarded the UH System $20 million last year to do a five-year study of water sustainability issues throughout the state. The project is called ʻIke Wai (Knowledge, Water) and has the overall goal of gathering new data on groundwater flow, sustainable yield, and economic impact. The data will help communities and state decision makers preserve Hawaiʻi’s water resources for the future.

‘Ike Wai is a collaborative project with data scientists and water researchers working statewide alongside local communities, indigenous peoples, government agencies and businesses to generate scientific data. Partners also include undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs and junior faculty to address water challenges at the academic and policy level. This is where UH Hilo’s contributions come in.

Training the professionals of the future

As part of the ʻIke Wai program, new degree programs at UH Hilo will help produce a new generation of big data scientists and data analytics professionals in Hawaiʻi. To start, Dr. Weyenberg and the new faculty team will work with existing faculty to develop a Data Science Certificate Program, followed by a baccalaureate degree. In addition to developing curricula, they will also teach courses and mentor students.

The first cohorts of the new Data Science program will analyze data sets generated by the ‘Ike Wai project’s five-year study, assisting in the creation of a data-driven, sustainable water future for the state of Hawaiʻi and our Pacific neighbors. Students will have further opportunities to hone their data analysis skills by supporting research faculty, whose projects connected to the ‘Ike Wai project generate large amounts of data.

This type of data is of the utmost importance to moving our island communities and fragile ecosystems into the future successfully. Increasing population, changing land use practices, and issues relating to climate change are contributing to growing concerns over water quality and quantity in Hawaiʻi. In bringing together UH faculty and resources, state and federal agencies, and community partners, the ‘Ike Wai project will address critical gaps in the understanding of Hawaiʻi’s water supply that limit decision making, planning and crisis responses.

The project is multidisciplinary in scope with elements of geophysics, microbiology, cyberinfrastructure, data modeling, indigenous knowledge, and economic forecasting. By university scientists and budding student researchers working in partnerships with state and federal agencies and community groups, a comprehensive data base will be created to assist with important decisions that will move our state forward into a sustainable future.

Visit the EPSCoR website to learn more about the Data Science program and the ‘Ike Wai project.

Aloha,

Don Straney

2017-2018 UH Hilo Chancellor’s Scholars

Chancellor’s Scholars maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and participate in leadership activities and community service.

Thirteen students from Hawaiʻi’s public and private high schools have been awarded the prestigious Chancellor’s Scholarship by the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

The 2017-2018 recipients and their respective high schools include:

  • Hailey Briseno, Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy
  • Kekamamakoaakaʻilihou Caceres, Kamehameha–Kapālama
  • Scott Dakofsky, Roosevelt High School
  • Ariana Dolan, Pearl City High School
  • Skyla Elder, Honokaʻa High School
  • Kaitlyn Evans, Kamehameha–Maui
  • Preslyn Kaanaana, Kamehameha–Kapālama
  • Polina Kozinskiy, Laupahoehoe PCS
  • Sophia Smith, Hawaiʻi Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Jaron Sugimoto, Waipahu High School
  • Naneaikealau Thomas, Kamehameha–Hawaiʻi
  • Vanessa Watkins, Waiakea High School
  • Kamamaluwaiwai Wichimai, Kamehameha–Hawaiʻi

The award, valued in excess of $28,000, covers four years of tuition for students graduating from a Hawaiʻi high school who earned either a grade point average of at least 3.5, a combined 1800 SAT (reading, writing, math) or a composite score of 27 on the ACT while demonstrating leadership and/or community service.

Chancellor’s Scholars are required to enroll as full-time students and earn a minimum of 24 credits each academic year. They must also maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and participate in leadership activities and/or community service with other Chancellor’s Scholars.

 

Media release

Chancellor’s Message: UH Hilo developing new enrollment management plan

Creating access and strengthening retention for students from Hawai‘i Island is our top priority.

By Don Straney.

While we continue to develop academic programs that address our island’s needs, we are currently developing new ways to be more effective at recruitment, retention, and graduation rates. We are taking our efforts to a whole new level, focusing our resources on specific students for recruitment and retention. This is part of a University of Hawai‘i systemwide initiative where each of the 10 campuses are developing their own five-year enrollment management plans specifically designed with appropriate goals for the individual campus.

In this column, I’d like to share some of UH Hilo’s plans.

The first step to creating this type of plan is to identify enrollment targets for the next five years, and in conjunction, to identify three to five areas of specific enrollment and retention activity to focus on, with the corresponding goals clearly outlined. This is done through analysis of historic trends and creating a foundation to work into planning and budgeting processes.

The goals are developed based on realistic and measurable outcomes and most likely will include shifts in, say, recruitment communications, marketing and public relations activities, financial aid strategies, academic course scheduling, support services programs and various projects.

An area we are exploring in particular is recruitment and support for freshman students—increasing enrollment by reaching out to particular geographic and ethnic populations (think local), and increasing freshman to sophomore retention by focusing on certain student populations and specific academic programs.

An example of this is in striving to strengthen the sense of community on our campus by grouping freshman students, who are interested in specific academic programs, into cohorts that stays together through graduation.

We’ve been building on this concept over the past few years, creating a Freshman Village, a community at the Hale Kanilehua Living Learning Center, that groups students as cohorts according to academic interest. We started with Native Hawaiian students, from both UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College, interested in Hawaiian studies and science, technology, engineering and math programs, commonly called the STEM programs.

The pilot program was a great success—it measurably expanded students’ competency in technology and retention at UH Hilo—and now the program has expanded to six Living Learning Communities: business, creative arts, environmental sustainability, Hawaiian culture and language, health and wellness, and natural science with a marine focus. This is a concept that we can build on as we develop our new enrollment management plan.

In other areas, we are currently discussing ways to increase distance learning, international students, and veteran enrollment. Also under discussion are scheduling more evening or weekend courses, expanding financial aid resources, and more highly targeted counseling and peer mentor programs.

I want to note that creating access and strengthening retention for students from Hawai‘i Island is our top priority. We have a responsibility to serve the whole island, and we are collaborating closely with Hawai‘i Community College to achieve recruitment-retention-graduation goals by creating pathways from Hawai‘i CC to UH Hilo in programs such as agriculture and Hawaiian studies.

All of these approaches to enrollment management need strong administrative support to be effective and there will undoubtedly be new approaches in admissions, financial aid, communications, and course scheduling. For example, including more scholarships in initial financial aid packages to encourage enrollment, and increasing high school visits by faculty and staff to talk with Hawai‘i Island students, are high on the priority list.

UH Hilo cannot grow on its own. We need to work together—faculty, staff, students—along with our local community to the benefit of all. This, combined with our strong partnership with Hawai‘i CC, will ensure that Hawai‘i Island’s high school students and others will have the options they need to access higher education on our island.

For more information, visit our Enrollment Management website.

Aloha,

Don Straney

Chancellor’s Message: UH Hilo hosts Chuo University Baseball Cultural Tour

This type of cultural exchange strengthens a natural partnership, building on a longstanding relationship between Hawai‘i and Japan.

By Don Straney

Last month, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo hosted a Baseball Cultural Tour with players from Chuo University, Tokyo. Chuo is one of the highest ranked academic schools in Japan—located in Tokyo, it has nearly 25,000 students on four campuses.

Chuo University Baseball Team

The Chuo delegation of 35 players, four coaches and administration officials arrived in Hilo on Feb. 19 for a one week cultural tour on Hawai‘i Island and O‘ahu.

The Chuo delegation lodged in UH Hilo on-campus housing for the duration of their visit on Hawai‘i Island, and during their stay, there were two exhibition games, Chuo vs Hilo, on Feb. 21 and 22. As is fitting for a cultural exchange tour, the two-game series split with Chuo winning the opening game by a score of 7-3 and Hilo winning the second game 2-1. I should note that Chuo won the Japan equivalent of the College Baseball World Series in 2016.

The games were a highlight of the tour, part of a larger context of connecting and sharing aloha. This type of cultural exchange strengthens a natural partnership, building on a longstanding relationship between Hawai‘i and Japan. UH Hilo is also currently working collaboratively on common, modern challenges with several universities in Japan in a wide range of fields: business, pharmacy, traditional medicine, disaster resilience, technology, and sustainability.

So it’s only natural to extend that connection through athletics, and baseball in particular. Chuo University is inspirational in its athletic achievements, producing many champions and Olympians, and it was an honor to have them visit and play here.

UH Hilo Baseball Team

On Feb. 20, the Vulcan Baseball team, in partnership with the Japanese Community Association of Hawai‘i and the Hawai‘i Japanese Center, hosted the Chuo baseball team and their delegation at a welcome reception that included dinner.

I enjoyed giving welcome remarks at the dinner along with Baseball Coach Kallen Miyatake; Director of Athletics Patrick Guillen; Dennis Kauka representing Mayor Harry Kim; Ryan Chong from County Parks and Recreation; Art Taniguchi, Honorary Consul General of Japan; Ivan Nakano, President, Japanese Community Association of Hawai‘i; Russell Arikawa, President, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawai‘i; Reverend Naohiro Hotta of Hilo Daijingu Church; and Koji Ikeda, Head Baseball Coach at Chuo University.

I’d also like to give a shout out to Hawai‘i State Representative Mark Hashem (Kāhala, Hawai‘i Kai), who was instrumental in the initial discussions three years ago to make this trip a reality, along with Terry Yagihara and Nathan Yoshioka from Honolulu who helped bridge the ties to Chuo University and UH Hilo.

This was truly a community event. On behalf of UH Hilo, I would like to extend mahalo to the Chuo University baseball team for coming to Hilo, the Hilo business community and Booster Supporters of the Vulcan baseball team, Arnold and Eloise Hiura (Hawai‘i Japanese Center), Gladys Sonomura and the volunteers at the Hawai‘i Japanese Center, Barry Taniguchi of KTA Superstores for his longtime support of UH Hilo, Derek Kurisu, George Yoshida, George and Shirley Ito for video, John Oshima for photography, and Reiko Hamano for interpretative services.

The future intent is to return the series trip to Tokyo to play Chuo University in 2018, then either host Chuo again in 2019 or another Japanese team in future years.

Aloha,

Don Straney

Chancellor’s Message: Giving our local high school students a boost to college

The Running Start and Early College programs help students prepare for college life, making it easier for them to be successful right through to graduation.

By Don Straney.

As we look to our work in 2017, a high priority at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is to improve significantly the recruiting, retention and graduation of our students. I’d like to share with you two programs showing great progress on recruiting and the success of our students: the Running Start and Early College programs.

Both programs are partnerships between UH and the State Department of Education. UH also has an Early College partnership with Kamehameha Schools.

Running Start

The Running Start program has been around for years. It allows local high school students to take a college course at one of the 10 UH System campuses across the state. In this way, high school students are attending classes with college and university students and getting acclimated to college life and demands. Students receive dual credit, high school and college credit, for successful completion of the course.

Prior to spring 2015, UH Hilo had a small number of students in Running Start. It was after we started offering Early College classes a couple of years ago that we began to see a significant increase in enrollment.

Early College

In the Early College program, university courses are taught by a university professor on the student’s high school campus. Upon successful completion of the course, the student receives both high school and college credit.

The purpose is to have more high school students graduate with college credits so they are better prepared for their future degree and career.

This type of program works. I started college with credit for two high school courses. They were both required so I started by taking more advanced courses, and that let me to finish my undergraduate degree early.

I recommend high school students consider taking early college courses not just to get a head start, but to understand they are ready for college-level work and that UH may be the next step for their education.

In 2015, twelve high schools statewide were selected to participate in the Early College DOE program so as to increase the number of high school students earning six or more college credits before they graduate from high school. Four public high schools on Hawai‘i Island are participating. Kamehameha Schools also entered into a partnership with UH Hilo.

Some of the introductory classes provided by UH Hilo in the last two years are in astronomy, psychology, and sociology at Kohala High. Anthropology, art, communication, English, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and math are offered at the Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i campus.

Hawai‘i Community College also has partnerships with high schools on the island and UH Hilo is working closely with them to bring the Early College program to the whole island.

Kohala High School is working with Hawai‘i CC and UH Hilo. Hilo High School, Kealakehe High and Waiakea High are working with Hawai‘i CC.

Collaboration for success

As we gear up for the next legislative session, it’s important to note that the DOE and the Governor have a goal of making funds available to the DOE to provide students statewide with the opportunity to complete six college credits prior to their high school graduation. This will ensure we have close working relationships with the high schools while the students take one college class per semester in their senior year or one college class per year in each of their junior and senior years.

All regular admissions criteria to UH still apply, so incoming students participating in Running Start and Early College still need to meet minimum grade point average requirements for acceptance into a UH school. But the programs greatly help with exactly that preparation and transition into college life, giving students a jump start and making it easier for them to acclimate to college life and be successful right through to graduation.

For more information about our Running Start and Early College programs, contact Zach Street or Stacie Higgins.

Here’s wishing you a Happy New Year!

Aloha,

Don Straney

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