UH Hilo’s Fred Dela Cruz honored with prestigious service award for his university service

Fred Dela Cruz, winner of the UH System Willard Wilson Award for Distinguished Service, has a longstanding reputation for high quality work and has earned great respect for his attention to detail and his mechanical abilities.

Four staff members pose for photo while stocking shelves in pantry.
In 2019, UH Hilo building and maintenance worker Fred Dela Cruz, front left, helped at the “soft opening” of a new food pantry for students in need. With Dela Cruz are other staff (from left front) Eric Rodrigues, plumber, and Shay Hara, auxiliary and facilities services officer. In back is Calvin Fukuhara, building and maintenance supervisor. Courtesy photo.

Frederick “Fred” Dela Cruz, retired building maintenance worker at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, was recognized with the Willard Wilson Award for Distinguished Service, a UH System-wide award. His 34 years of service to the UH community embodies the essence of the award. He set an example as someone who unselfishly goes above and beyond the call of duty, using his time and talent to better the community around him. Dela Cruz retired at the end of 2020.

Dela Cruz has a longstanding reputation for high quality work and has earned great respect for his attention to detail and his mechanical abilities. These skills were recognized in 2003 when Dela Cruz was awarded the UH President’s Award for Building Grounds Maintenance.

He has done extensive repair and maintenance projects for virtually every department in the university. UH Hilo also relied on Dela Cruz to expedite classroom projects with critical deadlines and to mitigate fallen trees and flooding during campus emergencies.

Here’s what his fans say:

  • Fred has been a quiet and humble behind-the-scenes leader who always comes from a place of “yes,” and motivates his co-workers to do the same. Fred’s immeasurable contributions to our campus without expectations of personal gain or recognition is a testament to his sincere desire to support actions that enhance our student’s experience on campus.
  • For almost 35 years, Fred has been the go-to person when there is an issue, and is always there when you need him, whether it be to set up and breakdown commencement, physically relocate an entire college, work on a three-day holiday weekend to make sure students have air conditioning, and countless more examples.
  • Fred is always smiling, always courteous and treats everyone with aloha. His work ethic and dedication to the university are second to none. Fred is a soft-spoken and humble person. But when he speaks, people pay attention because of the respect he has gained over years of consistent excellence and positive treatment of others.
  • The Auxiliary Services team rallies around Dela Cruz’s quiet confidence and kindness, and it is through his example of hard work and dedication that the teamwork occurs.
  • Dela Cruz, through his vast experience both as a janitor and building maintenance worker, has amassed extensive and intimate knowledge of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and all its various functions.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Dela Cruz was at the forefront of efforts to re-tool the university for pandemic operations. He and a small team walked through every office and potential location, talked to employees in those areas, assessed needs, offered comments, and, perhaps most importantly, demonstrated compassion and care in an uncertain time. He also volunteered at 5:30 a.m. each morning before he started his shift to decontaminate outdoor patio furniture.

The Hawaiʻi Island community is also the beneficiary of Dela Cruz’s desire to pay it forward. His work with the Hawaiʻi Island East Pukahi Boy Scouts enriches the lives of youth through hands-on learning and character development. Other community service contributions include planting native Hawaiian trees at Maunakea State Park, constructing a watershed near the Girls Scouts of Hawaiʻi Camp Kilohana and trash pickup at Kaʻaluʻalu, a treasured fishing area.

The Willard Wilson Award is named in honor of Willard Wilson, longtime UH administrator and secretary to the Board of Regents, who set the standard for exemplary service to the university during his 40-year career.

 

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