Column by Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai
Hawaii Tribune-Herald Special Section: University Town 2019
March 24, 2019
UH Hilo: A comprehensive university serving the community
The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo mission is to challenge students to reach their highest level of academic achievement by inspiring learning, discovery, and creativity inside and outside the classroom.
With core liberal arts values and an array of programs across a broad range of career pathways, our students complete an education that prepares them for continuous learning needed in the 21st century. By the time they graduate with advanced knowledge in their chosen major, our students have gained foundational skills in written communication, language, reasoning, and an appreciation for multiculturalism, humanities and the arts, and natural and social sciences.
Our students learn from many sources during their time with us, and I would like to focus this column on three foundational areas that prepare our students to achieve their goals and to be contributing members to the community.
With the deluge of information coming at us every day, good communication skills are crucial for professionals in the 21st century. This means mastery in delivering written and verbal information, and also in receiving information through active listening.
Throughout their years with us, students are required to explore and develop these skills through individual work and also through projects that require teamwork. For example, we have had students out in the community as interns listening to the needs of local businesses and organizations, helping to hone plans for better outcomes.
As we move into a data-filled future, communication also includes skills such as data visualization, a sophisticated form of scientific communication where large data sets are converted into simply designed presentations for other scientists or the general public. With new technology on campus, students are learning hands-on skills for creating effective data visualization products in a broad range of topical issues such as water conservation and natural disaster response.
Building strong communities is extremely important in our local culture, and UH Hilo takes pride in doing outreach that helps raise the quality of life for everyone. Every student at UH Hilo is offered opportunities to apply their classroom learning to the real world through internships, service learning, and community activities.
For example, the Pacific Internship Program for Exploring Science (PIPES) immerses students in internships each summer to help solve problems affecting our communities, such as climate change and invasive species. Our pharmacy college sponsors events that showcase research on prevalent health issues. Student-athletes go into local classrooms to inspire elementary students to read. Our students give back by paying forward.
Further, the North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center in Honoka‘a, while honoring the history and traditional culture, helps local high school students prepare for college, provides adults with lifelong learning activities, and gives the town a meeting place to gather and create new memories.
And our Center for Community Engagement offers non-credit courses open to everyone interested in lifelong learning. The center also supports faculty in community-engaged teaching, a perfect example of UH Hilo’s adage, “One learns from many sources.”
Our eyes are on the future, and it is clear that our island, region, and the world in general need knowledgeable, dedicated leaders to help communities meet unprecedented challenges. This is why a major goal of UH Hilo is to provide support to students to thrive, compete, and innovate to become leaders in their professional and personal lives.
One program to support this goal is the Student Leadership Development Program that instills cultural awareness, experiential learning, and wellness activities. The Ka Lama Ku Student Leadership Development Program is based on Native Hawaiian cultural values. And our UH Hilo Student Association is led by students honing their skills in politics, community organizing, and developing policy that will help solve the problems of tomorrow.
Moving into the future
Armed with an education founded in the liberal arts, the guidance of expert mentors, and a deep desire to make new discoveries that positively impact their communities, our students are learning from many sources and are already contributing to their selected fields, their communities, and the world.