Chancellor’s weekly update on countdown to reopen for fall semester: Masks on campus, testing & tracing, management searches, more

June 22, 2020 Update. Countdown to Fall 2020: 64 days remaining until fall semester begins.

Office worker in mask, holding a cloth mask.
Office worker at UH Hilo wears mask, and shows mask made during the university’s mask-making project in April. Universal wearing of masks will be expected of everyone on campus in the fall. Courtesy photo from the Division of Student Affairs.
Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie Irwin

Aloha Kākou,

I hope the fathers in our ‘ohana had a good day yesterday, and that everyone in our community is staying safe and well.

It has been a busy week on campus, both in person and virtually! Our working groups continue to meet and plan. The Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, along with other key stakeholders across the university, continues to work on diversity, equity, and inclusion activities, and our Strategic Doing committees had their first meetings and began discussing the university’s relationships and importance of place.

The UH Hilo campus remains closed to the general public and non-members of the UH Hilo community. We are beginning to reopen operations to those members of the general public who are specifically invited to campus for programmatic reasons and are here by appointment, e.g. ‘Imiloa, Testing Center, and Campus Tours.

Summer Session II

Today marks the first day of Summer Session II. Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ken Hon sent an email to all students last week letting them know that all Summer Session II classes will remain online for the duration of the session. In planning for the fall and helping our students with their progress to degree, if there are any students who have not yet registered for any Summer Session classes, please encourage them to do so immediately.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

You may have noticed that ‘Imiloa is going to open for Hālau Lamakū, a summer program focused on place-based learning for keiki in grades 1-5. The program is already sold out, and will be held July 13-31. ‘Imiloa is strictly following the guidelines for museums and child care facilities in its plans, and the keiki who are engaged in the program will stay within the borders of ‘Imiloa’s building and grounds.

Testing Center

We will also be opening the Testing Center to allow our students and other select community members to take required certification tests. Physical distancing and sanitizing procedures will be in force.

Campus Tours

We are also looking at plans to conduct small campus tours for prospective students. This will be very small in size, and by appointment only. While on the tour, all participants will be required to wear masks.

Masks on Campus

We are planning to expect the wearing of masks by people on campus in the fall, unless health guidelines have changed dramatically by then, which we doubt. Those with private offices and those who can maintain a safe distance from others will be able to remove their masks in those spaces, but will be expected to wear the mask when walking to other places on campus, such as down the hall, in the restrooms, and in the dining center. More specific guidelines will be released soon, but make sure you have a mask available when coming to campus! Additional guidelines for athletes engaged in practice and competition will be forthcoming as well.

Testing and Tracing

This working group will begin meeting soon. Some members of our ‘ohana have met with representatives of the County Department of Health, and we will be relying on both campus and community resources. The University of Hawai‘i System is vetting various health check-in apps, and will be making a decision on one of these soon.


For both budget and safety reasons, the interstate and international travel limitations for UH employees remain in place. Exceptions may only be granted by the president, and quarantine restrictions will continue to follow state and county guidelines. Interisland business travel will require approval of the chancellor.


Membership of the Long-Range Budget Committee has been finalized. As soon as I confirm the willingness of those chosen to serve, I will announce the composition of the committee and the first meeting, which will be held in early July. You may continue to make suggestions here.

EM Searches

  • Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs: We are in the process of finalizing an offer to a VCAA, which needs to go to the president for approval.
  • Dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences: The Search Committee is conducting reference checks and will provide a report to the chancellor next week.
  • Dean of Students/Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs: Campus virtual interviews are today and tomorrow.
  • Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences: Interviews begin this week.

Further Questions?

I have scheduled two open Zoom meetings for the campus on Wednesday, July 8 and July 29, noon – 1 p.m. Zoom information will be shared this week. I know folks have questions and concerns so I hope you join in.

In the meantime, I hope you are finding time for rest and reflection. I have completed reading White Fragility this weekend, a powerful book indeed, which underlines how much I have yet to learn. I look forward to joining in on some of the critical conversations we will have on campus this fall.

Mahalo nui loa for all you do for UH Hilo!

Bonnie D. Irwin
Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

UH Hilo’s COVID-19 information webpage