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Tag: Workforce Development

Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: Sept. 2012

Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce

September 2012

UH Hilo’s College of Business and Economics earns high marks in national assessment

We start the new school year with great news from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s College of Business and Economics. CoBE and the students in the college recently received scores from the nationwide Collegiate Learning Assessment. The CLA is a national instrument that evaluates students’ written responses to assess critical thinking, reasoning, problem solving skills, and the ability to communicate clearly and cogently.

Our student achievements were significantly above the average mean. Thirty-three graduating seniors enrolled in the capstone strategic planning course attained an average overall CLA score of 1,189, which puts our seniors in the 57th percentile of graduating seniors nationwide. Better still, the college’s Value-Added Score among the hundreds of institutions that administer the CLA is at the 93rd percentile nationwide!

Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s book, Academically Adrift, examined college students’ growth in critical thinking skills as measured by the CLA. They find that “at least 45 percent of students in our [national] sample did not demonstrate any statistically significant improvement in Collegiate Learning Assessment performance during the first two years of college.”

Business is one of the lowest performing majors on the CLA, while students majoring in natural sciences earn the top scores. In a New York Times editorial, Arum writes, “students concentrating in business related coursework were the least likely to report spending time studying and preparing for class. Given such modest investments in academic activities, it is not surprising that business students show the lowest gains on measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication.”

Faculty at UH Hilo’s business college attribute our students positive outcome to several factors: high quality faculty with terminal degrees who teach and are also active researchers devoted to student learning; small class sizes that allow personal attention and high levels of interaction; a strong culture of professionalism at the college; and applied learning activities such as internships.

Our graduates who participated in the CLA are pleased, but not surprised, by the results. Winona Chen (2012) remarks that our “professors have passion for what they teach, they are invested in our success as students and professionals, and they invite us to reach our full potential.” Chen is currently interning in an Executive Team Leader position teaching fitness classes and running triathlons.

Shaun McKim (2012), a double major in economics and political science currently enrolled in Clark University’s MBA program on a merit scholarship, says the “rigorous curriculum” and the opportunity to collaborate with professors and present papers at international conferences prepared him for the challenges of graduate school.

Emily Anderson (2012), an accounting graduate, says the courses are designed to emulate what students will encounter in the real work force. “I will be the first to attest to how much employers notice those things,” she says. “I am so lucky to have the fortunate problem this summer of having to turn down job offers because I was receiving too many.”

We are proud of our students and their performance on the CLA. This is confirmation of their critical thinking, analytical, and communication abilities. These results confirm that we offer a high-quality education and are preparing our graduates well for employment and advanced studies.

For more news from the Office of the Chancellor, visit my blog.

Don Straney

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Video: UH Innovation Initiative discussed

Click above to watch video at

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo will have an important role in a new statewide economic development initiative headed by UH President M.R.C. Greenwood.

Kelli Abe Trifonovitch, director of communications and outreach for the UH Innovation Initiative, recently moderated a discussion on UH’s role in Hawai‘i’s economic development with Peter Quigley, UH vice president for community colleges, Jeanne Unemori Skog, Maui Economic Development, and Mitch D’Olier, president and CEO of Kaneohe Ranch on O‘ahu.

“In this program we’ll be talking about econmic development with focus on UH’s Innovation Initiative,” says Trifonovitch. “Economic development is a critically important topic and the University of Hawai‘i may have found the way forward for the diversification problem that has vexed our state for decades.”

UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney encourages everyone interested in learning more about the UH Innovation Initiative to watch the video, which includes discussion about the important role of UH Hilo in future economic growth of the state.


Learn more about UH’s Innovation Initiative.  

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Chancellor Straney gives talk on UH Hilo’s impact on the local economy

Chuck Erskine (left), vice president of Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Economic Development Committee introduced Chancellor Straney. Mr. Erskine is assistant vice president and area manager for the Waimea Branch of First Hawaiian Bank.

University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney gave a presentation today to local business leaders on UH Hilo’s impact on the economic life of Hawai‘i island. The luncheon event, held at Restaurant Encore in Hilo, was sponsored by the Economic Development Committees of the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawai‘i.

Local business leaders listen to Chancellor Straney’s presentation.

Chancellor Straney’s talk, entitled, “Toward a Vibrant Economy for 21st Century Hawaii,” focused on UH Hilo’s role in the Hawai‘i island economy as a thriving enterprise creating thousands of jobs, generating millions in revenues, and developing educational and outreach programs in answer to island and state needs.

“We’re an island that has some special economic needs that universities and community colleges are supposed to help address,” says Chancellor Straney. “The need for post secondary education is strong, both in preparation for people to enter the workforce, and preparation for people to create and develop careers. Hawai‘i Community College and UH Hilo are poised to serve the county extremely well.”

View PowerPoint.  

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Editorial by Chancellor Straney in Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Preparing students for the future

An editorial by University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney was published today in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Island Voices” section:

UH Hilo anticipating job trends to prepare students for future
By Donald Straney
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 14, 2012

The Associated Press recently reported a disturbing challenge facing new college graduates: They are being forced to take low-wage positions in a dismal job market. Prospects for good employment have fallen to the lowest level in a decade, and young adults with bachelor degrees are increasingly “scraping by” in low-wage jobs.

“Only three of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor’s degree or higher to fill the position — teachers, college professors and accountants,” said the report, based on an analysis of national data.

National trends are not always reflective of individual states. A report by Complete College America states that by 2020, 68 percent of jobs in Hawai‘i will require a career certificate or college degree, but currently only 41 percent of adults have a college degree. By the end of this decade, then, we’ll need to increase the number of college graduates to fill these positions. We simply will not have enough skilled workers to meet the needs of our economy without many more college graduates.

We at the University of Hawai‘i are keenly aware that our state needs a professional workforce to fill the urgent skills gap in a number of fields. They include business and teaching, as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

UH is preparing students in these fields. For example, one of the most urgent challenges locally is in rural health care. Four of the most recently approved degrees at UH Hilo are in health care, including a doctor of nursing practice program, which will start in August 2012.

Studies show job opportunities are often greater for graduates with degrees in science, education and health fields. While that may be true, degrees in humanities, social sciences and related fields are viable pathways to careers in Hawai‘i. We live in a place that values art, music, dance, writing, language, teaching, culture revitalization and other humanities fields — and there are jobs in these sectors.

For example, graduates from UH Hilo’s performing arts program find good jobs as teachers, managers, performers, directors and producers. Graduates from our Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language become teachers in immersion schools, radio personalities, community college instructors, and recording artists. ‘Aha Pūnana Leo, a Hilo-based and nationally recognized nonprofit model for Native American language revitalization programs, is staffed by many graduates of this college.

Valuable experience comes via hands-on learning in internships, collaborative research with professors, and community service. Members of UH Hilo’s Model United Nations Team, for example, have gone on to law school and become attorneys. The team competes annually in national competition and this year captured the highest honor as Outstanding Delegation.

Our nation desperately needs more well-paying jobs for college graduates. UH Hilo is a step ahead of the trends, preparing students now for the future. Our nursing, teaching, computer science, pharmaceutical sciences and other key programs are strong and growing. Interdisciplinary STEM programs — astronomy, math, chemistry, biology and more — make our graduates much more flexible in taking advantage of limited opportunities. Our humanities disciplines are in sync with Hawai‘i’s need for professionals in culture and the arts, language, and communications. Internships, research projects, and community projects give graduates the experience and connections that get them noticed and hired.

Our kuleana, or responsibility, is to improve the quality of life of the people of Hawai‘i, the Pacific region and the world. The national trends on diminishing employment opportunities are disturbing, but we are working hard to counter those trends to create a productive future for our island and state.

Donald Straney is chancellor of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

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Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: February 2012

Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce

February 2012

UH Hilo and the state collaborate on energy and food sustainability

Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce LogoOne of the goals in the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s new Strategic Plan is to foster a sustainable environment on campus, one that gives students, faculty and staff the best possible place in which to study, work and live. One of the key components of this sustainability goal is responsible stewardship for Hawai‘i’s precious natural resources by providing leadership in recycling, sustainable resource use, food production, “green” building design, and use of renewable energy sources on campus.

We already are making great strides in these objectives with the installation of photo voltaic on several of our buildings and promotion of “local first” days in our campus eateries. Our newly re-formed Sustainability Committee is currently discussing new initiatives on energy and recycling. During winter break, our campus community participated in our Green Days initiative, in which many facilities and offices on campus were closed, saving $68.5 thousand in energy costs.

A statewide initiative that dovetails in part with UH Hilo’s sustainability goals is the work of the Hawai‘i EPSCoR Statewide Governance Committee, of which I am co-chair. EPSCoR is a multi-million dollar federally-funded statewide initiative called the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Taking the lead from Governor Abercrombie’s “A New Day in Hawai‘i” roadmap, in which the governor emphasizes the urgent need to infuse technology and innovation into the economy, the EPSCoR committee is providing leadership for development of the Hawai‘i Statewide Science and Technology Strategic Plan. The committee recently drew up a proposed guide, “Sustaining and Improving Quality of Life for a Prosperous Hawai‘i: A Statewide Framework for Science and Technology,” including a section on energy and food sustainability.

The plan, still in draft form, is meant for state and local governments, businesses, and the education sector and “provides a pathway for sparking conversations and actions that will bring to bear the latest knowledge and technology to grow, diversify and strengthen a resilient state economy, and improve the overall quality of life for Hawai‘i residents.” The plan advocates four key objectives: 1) strengthen the sci-tech talent pool; 2) foster synergies between Hawaii’s sci-tech businesses and institutions; 3) advance sci-tech for a healthy state; and 4) invest in sci-tech for a resilient, sustainable island state.

Objective 4 addresses the current model in which the state imports 90% of its energy (through oil) and 85% of its food need; the EPSCoR committee expresses concern that Hawai‘i is therefore exposed to increased risks relating to energy and food supplies. “Investment in scientific and technological research to help Hawai‘i produce more of its own energy and food for domestic use and exportation will help to ensure that the state is protected,” the draft plan states.

I’ve placed as one of my priorities the advocacy of initiatives that bring us closer to a truly sustainable campus, island, and state. Governor Abercrombie’s New Day roadmap, UH Hilo’s strategic plan, and EPSCoR’s draft sci-tech guide all encourage discussion and collaboration to advance the objectives I’ve discussed above. In last month’s column, I wrote about convening the first UH Hilo Community Vision Summit with leaders from our local community—representatives of education, health, technology, business, local government, and community non-profits. Among the most prevalent topics at the summit was UH Hilo’s focus on energy and agriculture. “UH Hilo has to focus on the new trends where jobs are and communicate this to the community,” said one participant. “This will produce the ‘fire in the belly’ for motivation in education.”

More community vision summits are planned for the near future. I look forward to working with the chamber and its members to advance sustainable initiatives and practices for the benefit of our island and state.

For more news from the Office of the Chancellor, visit my blog.

Don Straney

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