UH Hilo should be a responsible steward for this unique place—the people, the land, the culture—that is a role to which we can aspire.
By Don Straney.
What makes each campus in the University of Hawai‘i System unique? How can we work together to efficiently serve the people of Hawaiʻi? How are we each expanding access to higher education for the people of our state and region?
I’d like to share some thoughts on the UH Hilo’s unique role in the UH System.
Teaching and research
First and foremost, UH Hilo is focused on our students and their learning. In everything we do—not just in the classroom, but in our research and community outreach, too—our students are front and center, participating, engaging, gaining real-life experiences, working on real-life problems, contributing solutions to our communities. Everything we do is woven into the learning experiences of our students.
Within this context, UH Hilo attracts a diverse array of learners: undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, lifelong learners, recent high school graduates, first generation local students, returning students, professionals reinventing themselves, international students. We are a rich resource for all with our expert faculty and dedicated staff at-the-ready to engage, teach, research, share, help.
Everyone is welcome to come learn with us.
Further, we are a campus where faculty conduct place-based, applied research of benefit to the people of Hawai‘i Island and the state. For example, faculty do research on indigenous languages that helps promote the revitalization of the Hawaiian language and culture. Environmental scientists are studying ways to mitigate climate change. Marine scientists are researching coastal pollution and the effects of recent major storm surge.
UH Hilo seeks to better reflect Hawai‘i, its people, history, cultures, and natural environment in all that it does. As a member of the UH System, we embrace our responsibility to serve the indigenous people of Hawai‘i and to support Hawai‘i’s indigenous language and culture.
We are integrating the Hawaiian experience into many of the ways in which we teach, conduct research, and do outreach to the community. For example, cultural practitioners at our Uluākea program teach faculty in various academic disciplines an authentic and practical understanding of indigenous ways of knowing the world.
UH Hilo also is the most ethnically diverse four-year public campus in the country, according to a recent ranking. This creates a beautiful global community on campus and prepares our students well for an increasingly global society.
This place-based yet global campus community is of great benefit not only to the students from our island and state, but also to students from elsewhere, most notably the Pacific region. Students who hail from elsewhere in the Pacific are responding well to our invitation to come study with us. Pacific islanders can learn while immersed in our island community, and then return to their homelands highly skilled in their chosen field, ready to teach, start nonprofits, address health care, protect the environment and more.
In addition to ethnic and cultural diversity, Hawai‘i Island itself is one of the most geographically diverse places in the world. The land, sea and sky create an environment unsurpassed for exploration and inquiry, foundation blocks of learning.
With the combined ethnic, cultural and environmental diversity of our campus and island, we promise our students and our researchers a location that no other campus in the UH System can.
I believe UH Hilo should be a responsible steward for this unique place—the people, the land, the culture—that is a role to which we can aspire. We offer and expand access to higher education to the people of our island and region, we do applied research that is of benefit to the people and the place, and we reach out to strengthen communities where they need it most (think health care, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy).
We are a university where students are challenged to do their very best work, inspired to think critically about topical issues and to discover practical solutions, and nurtured to find meaning in their lives through community connection and response.
This is what we aim to be within the UH System. It’s a role I know we all take to heart and I look forward to working with you on ways to grow and strengthen UH Hilo in the new year ahead.
Happy holidays to you and yours,