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Tag: Workforce Development

Interim Chancellor’s message concerning the UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy

The college will take strong, proactive measures to reduce costs commensurate with an anticipated smaller incoming class for Fall 2019, and perhaps for the next several years.

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana:

Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy University of Hawaii and Hilo sealI write today to inform you of news concerning our Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy (DKICP).

When the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy opened in 2007 there was a severe shortage of pharmacists in Hawai‘i and a shortage of capacity in pharmacy schools nationwide. DKICP was launched to address these gaps with an innovative financial plan that was based on a strong base of non-resident students who would complement local enrollment and pay a higher tuition rate.

While DKICP continues to serve a unique and vital mission for Hawai‘i and the Pacific, the rapidly changing healthcare environment in Hawai‘i, the Pacific, and the nation has negatively affected enrollment. As a result, DKICP will take strong, proactive measures to reduce costs commensurate with an anticipated smaller incoming class for Fall 2019, and perhaps for the next several years.

At the same time, DKICP will initiate a process of program redesign, consistent with ACPE accreditation, to help reverse the current enrollment decline by attracting more students. This will be complemented with an investment in aggressive, competitive recruitment initiatives, which will be enhanced with the availability of the new state-of-the-art DKICP education and research facility that opens Fall 2019 in our University Park of Science and Technology.

Painful as these measures are today, UH Hilo and DKICP share in the excitement of new opportunities so that we can continue to prepare our students to excel as they participate in and shape the dynamic and challenging field of pharmacy and healthcare in Hawai‘i and beyond.


Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column, May 2019: Navigating change and complexity

Above, view of UH Hilo campus looking toward Student Services Building. Photo by Raiatea Arcuri.

Higher education throughout the country faces challenges that are systemic and the need for change is not just over the horizon but already here.

By Marcia Sakai.

The world in which we live is becoming increasingly complex and changing at an increasingly faster pace. This column takes a look at why the world of higher education is no different.

I have been fortunate during my career at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo to witness and participate in UH Hilo’s growth to become a full blown comprehensive university. With the support of the community, we now have an array of undergraduate majors in agriculture, the natural and health sciences, social science, culture and the arts, business, and pharmacy studies, and selected graduate programs in conservation biology and environmental science, nursing, Hawaiian language, teaching, and counseling.

Our campus facilities are well matched to this growth and include well maintained classroom and office buildings, student service and student life buildings, athletic facilities, residence halls, and instructional farm and aquaculture facilities.

But higher education throughout the country faces challenges that are systemic and the need for change is not just over the horizon but already here. Our approach to the changing environment of higher education is being shaped by several highly influential areas, and UH Hilo will need to position itself to meet these challenges.

Changing demographics

There are two clear demographic changes happening in higher education throughout the country that challenge the way higher education is currently modeled.

First, the number of high school graduates has stagnated across the nation, and even though projections currently show a slight growth in Hawai‘i, it’s believed the college-going population in the country will drop by 15 percent between 2025 and 2029. I believe that competition among institutions of higher education for this shrinking pool of traditional age college students will increase, and that we will see increased recruiting from out-of-state institutions for Hawai‘i high school seniors. This situation brings challenges to higher education in recruiting and in funding generated by tuition. But, UH Hilo brings value to the people it serves and will need to refine and better communicate this value.

Another change is that disruptive changes in industry will make career changes more frequent and more and more people will need to periodically update their education and knowledge. These are the non-traditional (25 years or older) students for whom evening classes and online courses are more attractive. UH Hilo’s development of online learning will need to address this group. Our master of arts in teaching currently serves working teachers who want to build stronger curriculum and pedagogy to improve our local schools and positively impact their students. We also are answering this challenge with new degree and certificate programs for future jobs such as in data science and aeronautical science.

The importance of liberal arts

UH Hilo is already helping to answer workforce needs for more scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians—the STEM disciplines. These are the professionals who will see us through the greatest challenges of the times: climate change, environmental conservation, biomedical discovery, health care, sustainability issues, and more.

But equally important in building a modern and resilient workforce is for all students to develop their core liberal arts skills. These are the skills that will support their transition through multiple career changes.

UH Hilo is at its core a liberal arts institution with core liberal arts values and an array of programs across a broad range of career pathways. By the time our students graduate with advanced knowledge in their chosen major, they have also gained foundational skills in written communication, language, reasoning, and an appreciation for multiculturalism, humanities and the arts, and natural and social sciences. Our students complete an education that prepares them well to adapt throughout their careers as industries rapidly change.

The challenge of funding

I would be remiss to leave out funding in a column devoted to challenges. Hawai‘i continues to provide among the largest share of public support for higher education, but annual tuition charges have grown to make up the difference in the cost of providing services. This clearly creates a barrier to access for many students who are our kuleana to educate. While the growing reliance on tuition can be related to the increased earning power of the graduate, which is a private benefit, I believe that we as a society need to reverse the view of education as a pure private good. Education for one benefits our communities and society at large, and investing in higher education is an investment in the future of our island and state.

The great equalizer

Higher education is the great equalizer. It provides social mobility and is the key to a successful democracy. UH Hilo’s challenge is to find the very best ways to continue our mission of providing access to higher education for the people of Hawai‘i island and the state, in order to build resiliency in itself and in our students for us all to move successfully into the future.


Marcia Sakai

Interim Chancellor’s Column in Hawaii Tribune-Herald Special Section, University Town 2019

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

UH Hilo seal, red lettering University of Hawaii and the state motto.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.

Marcia Sakai

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column, March 2019: UH Hilo moving into the future

At UH Hilo we embrace our kuleana to help provide the workforce for new growth sectors in our economy. Our eyes are on the future.

By Marcia Sakai.

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. This prepares them for the workforce needs of our island, state, and the global community. In this column, I’d like to share with you a few of our new programs that directly answer these needs.

Our new bachelor of science in aeronautical sciences program, approved earlier this year by the UH Board of Regents, has two tracks: one in commercial professional pilot training and the other in commercial aerial information technology (drones). Both are projected growth areas for the state. The pilot training track is cost effective compared to mainland programs and would support the state’s tourism-related transportation services sector. The drone track trains students for growing career opportunities in agriculture, natural disaster response, natural resource management, search and rescue, security services, and expected air transport services.

UH Hilo drone team took a lead role in collecting data during the recent lava flow in Puna. Read story about new aeronautical sciences degree program. Photo via UH System News.

In the fast-growing field of data science, UH Hilo launched its long-planned data science program this past fall. Technology is enabling the production of data at an ever increasing rate, but there are not a lot of people trained to analyze that data, develop information, and make conclusions. Here on our island, for example, there is great need for data analytics in conservation efforts, water resource management, and climate change research.

At UH Hilo’s Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center located at Hilo Bay, hundreds of students have gained valuable hands-on experience at the nine-acre center, developing aquaponics and raising ornamental and food fish, shellfish, and algae throughout the year. Interns, volunteers, and research students have learned everything about aquaculture production from the hatchery where juvenile fish and juvenile oysters are raised to actual farming of the organisms.

UH Hilo has the only four-year aquaculture program in the state, and the center has the only facility dedicated to aquaculture and coastal management education, research, and outreach to the community and industry. In addition to training the workforce and researchers of tomorrow, our center is helping to develop sustainable seafood production, moving the state closer to self-reliance in food while also promoting ocean conservation.

We are working with Hawai‘i Community College to develop articulated 2+2 transfer pathways to UH Hilo baccalaureate opportunities and targeting completion of   pathways in administration of justice and psychology by the end of this academic year.  We will extend these and look at other pathways across all the UH community colleges, in order to develop a robust transfer population. Looking ahead, we are investigating collaborative work to develop a pathway into the natural sciences and STEM teacher education programs, two fields for which there is already an important workforce need.

To meet future needs for highly educated professionals in health care, we are looking toward preparing students to pursue doctoral studies. The Students of Hawaiʻi Advanced Research Program (SHARP) is a relatively new program, largely supporting under-represented students, particularly Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, who would like to do research in preparation for doctoral studies. The students are mentored by expert faculty researchers to develop interest and competence in biomedical and behavioral sciences research. The program is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) and is administered through the UH Hilo Department of Anthropology.

Group viewing poster presentation.
SHARP student Jasmine Hiking (center facing right) with a group viewing the poster presentation on her research. Read story about SHARP symposium.

At UH Hilo we embrace our kuleana to help provide the workforce for new growth sectors in our economy. Our eyes are on the future. We strive to anticipate the needs of our island, state, and global community and to help prepare the professionals needed to navigate the challenges to come. Our students will not only have the chance to compete successfully in the future for well-paying jobs, but will also help raise the quality of life for their families, communities, state, and region for years to come.


Marcia Sakai

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column, Feb. 2019: Supporting students to thrive and succeed

Priority #1 at UH Hilo: Supporting students to thrive and succeed.

By Marcia Sakai

A major goal of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is to provide support to students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead in their professional and personal lives. This means we have a responsibility to develop best practices that enable students to pursue their own goals with purpose and confidence to see them through to graduation and then beyond to further education or a meaningful career.

Purpose First

One initiative to achieve this goal is a program that UH Hilo is implementing, along with several other UH campuses, to develop a new model of best-practice student advising tools. UH was selected by Complete College America as one of four state teams to participate in a 24-month initiative called Purpose First, where students are encouraged to explore career aspirations early in their college/university years.

This is the trend to success: make a career choice early. Gone are the days of recommending to students that they take general courses for the first two years and not worry about their major until later. Here’s why: An early career choice is then integrated into the student’s academic advising, with decisions made along the way based on real-time, region-specific labor market data currently available and reviewed by the students themselves.

Strada Education Network. Completion with a Purpose.The UH Purpose First  initiative, funded by a $1 million grant from Strada Education Network, enables students to pursue their college goals more purposefully and with confidence that their majors match their academic and personal strengths. They are also given a clearer understanding of future career opportunities.

Examples of activity underway at UH Hilo toward Purpose First include annual career fairs for the entire campus designed to connect students with employers from across the state, development of a shared plan for Career Advising between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, and the inclusion of career topics in all classes.

In tandem, we’re transforming many traditional courses of study into interdisciplinary undergraduate curriculum that is more responsive to preparing graduates for further education or employment and leadership in the 21st century.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of these efforts will be implemented in fall 2019.

Enrollment Management Plan

The Purpose First program is part of our updated Enrollment Management Plan geared to preparing competent and transformational leaders of tomorrow through a data-driven enrollment management process from recruitment, to persistence, to graduation and beyond.

The plan calls for UH Hilo to increase its enrollment through strategic recruitment, well-rounded student support, and focused retention efforts. We’ve increased communication and access to financial aid information, adjusted awarding of institutional aid to support retention, expanded and enhanced digital outreach (email, web, and social media), increased UH community college transfer events and recruitment, and implemented texting communications for accepted students.

Opihi UH Hilo Student SuccessTo coordinate and oversee many new and existing undergraduate retention strategies, we’ve launched the ʻOpihi Student Success program with new hires to do proactive inreach to current students focused on registration and student support, and outreach to potential returning students who stopped out of UH Hilo but were within 15 credits of graduation.

We’ve also increased participation in the peer mentoring program for new freshmen and transfer students. Mass communication has expanded to remind students about important deadlines, processes, and events.

Further, in collaboration with the College of Business and Economics and the College of Arts and Sciences, ʻOpihi conducted individual reviews of progress to degrees for all 2,529 students at sophomore, junior or senior standing, including exchange students. And in addition to the students who stopped out, outreach is underway to students who experienced registration errors, and others who were deemed prospective returning students.

The goal of our new Enrollment Management Plan is to make UH Hilo a viable and successful choice for students from Hawai‘i, the continental U.S., and abroad who are interested in making an impact in a rapidly changing and diverse society. For details about the activities I’ve discussed in this column and more, see the Hilo section of UH System Enrollment Management Report released last month.


Marcia Sakai