Across Student Affairs there is excellent work being done by all units and I’d like to recognize and thank all faculty and staff for their continued hard work and dedication to our students.
By Farrah-Marie Gomes, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Guest author for this month’s column.
I am excited about the work that the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Division of Student Affairs has accomplished in the 10 months I have served as vice chancellor for student affairs. While the fall 2017 semester started only a few weeks ago and many units are busy helping students get settled into classes and activities, I’d like to share with you some of our recent successes.
For the first time in four years, our admissions team was successful in recruiting the largest incoming class of students this semester. This was due in part to a 19 percent increase in first-time freshmen accepted to UH Hilo. As indicated in the UH System Enrollment Management Action Plan, two of our UH Hilo strategies include increasing enrollment of first-time students, especially on Hawai‘i Island, and increasing enrollment of transfer students, especially with UH community colleges.
To assist with these strategies, we will soon be searching for a Hawai‘i Island admissions counselor and plan to advertise for a transfer admissions counselor shortly thereafter.
Refining our financial aid strategy is also included in the plan as a way of ensuring success of our students on their educational journey. This year, the Office of Financial Aid awarded more than $64 million in financial aid and last month unveiled a new micro-scholarship program to Hawai‘i Island high school counselors. This program will allow students, starting from their freshman year in high school, to earn funds toward a scholarship redeemable only upon enrollment at UH Hilo after graduation.
In addition to the financial benefit of micro-scholarships, we believe that by engaging with high school students earlier, they will be better prepared for their transition to college.
Realizing that the transition to college can be challenging for students, our New Student Programs made adjustments to New Student Orientation this summer. The most significant change was a reduction of the orientation fee, which likely contributed to almost 200 more registrations in this semester’s fall orientation.
Currently, New Student Programs is transitioning to a First-Year Experience Program. To assist with the retention of students in their first year at UH Hilo, transfer students will be provided with access to better coordinated transfer services and first-year students will be eligible to receive the support of a peer mentor through this new program.
Although there was an increase in the incoming class, UH Hilo experienced an overall decline in enrollment this semester. Despite this decline, there are 740 students living in our residence halls compared to 672 students last fall. This represents an all-time high for occupancy in UH Hilo housing since Hale ‘Alahonua was built in 2013, and is in part due to repricing approved by the Board of Regents in June that significantly reduced the rates for Hale ‘Alahonua by more than $700 each semester.
Living Learning Communities continue to be a highlight within the residence halls where a total of 113 freshmen have chosen a field of interest, are enrolled in a course together and go on off-campus trips that focus on cultural practices, community engagement, and service learning.
Across the rest of Student Affairs, there is excellent work being done by all units and I’d like to recognize and thank all faculty and staff for their continued hard work and dedication to our students. I look forward to many more accomplishments from our team in the future. The division will soon be embarking on reviewing our mission and vision statements as a way of ensuring that we continue to meaningfully contribute to the wonderful teaching and learning that takes place every day at UH Hilo.
We ask that you join us in making this campus a place where our differences are bound within a framework of respect and aloha.
Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,
Over the last year, and increasingly in recent months, incidents have occurred across the nation in which freedom of speech and the right of people to peaceably assemble have led to conflict, controversy, and in some cases, tragedy. We have also found that our community in Hilo is not immune to such events.
At the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo we take pride in our diverse campus community, and embrace those who come here to work, learn and grow. Universities are intended to be places where ideas and cultures intersect, and we strive to provide a place where this exchange can occur in a safe and productive environment. Yet, as we have seen with some recent demonstrations, beliefs can be in stark contrast.
Our administration has and will continue to respond to inquiries and reports relating to free speech and free expression. Our commitment to these freedoms are essential as we stand firm in our approach to respect the rights of students and staff as well as those choosing to demonstrate their various beliefs.
We expect that in the coming weeks and months issues may arise in which we as a community do not fully agree, and voices in opposition may ring loud. Our resolve to oppose hate and violence must be strong, and our strength comes from each of us. We ask that you join us in making this campus a place where our differences are bound within a framework of respect and aloha.
UH Hilo is here to support you with a variety of services for our students, faculty and staff. Should you need assistance, please reach out to campus support services.
The ceremonies were to honor UH Vice President Don Straney and UH Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai in their new positions.
Kīpaepae Ho‘oku‘u (Releasing Ceremony) and Kīpaepae Ho‘onoho (Appointment Ceremony) were held today for former University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney and new UH Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai. Straney was recently reassigned to a new position as the UH System vice president for academic planning and policy. The ceremonies were to honor Vice President Straney and Interim Chancellor Sakai in their new positions.
The following message is sent on behalf of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College Kīpaepae Committee and the Ha‘akūmalae Protocols Program:
Aloha mai kākou,
We warmly invite you to participate in a Kīpaepae Ho‘oku‘u (Releasing Ceremony) and Kīpaepae Ho‘onoho (Appointment Ceremony) on Thursday, September 14, 2017, for former UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney and new UH Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai.