Chancellor Irwin’s Weekly Update, May 24, 2021: Campus reopening, summer session, strategic plan, vaccine mandate

UH System is planning to require students be vaccinated for covid for fall semester; meanwhile please continue to follow the state and county mandates regarding masking and distancing.

May 24, 2021

Aloha Kākou,

Bonnie Irwin in her office
Bonnie D. Irwin

Welcome to summer! I hope everyone is making plans for some well deserved downtime this summer as we slowly emerge from the pandemic and restrictions begin to ease. I spent my first post-graduation week watching snippets of video feed and live stats from Athletics between meetings. Congratulations to our Vulcan teams, many of whom, despite the challenges of COVID-19, have had their best seasons in a decade this year!

I share with you the following updates for this week, with more to come as summer progresses. Information will be communicated through our weekly “Countdown to Fall 2021” messages, which will be sent every Monday at noon through August 16.

Reopening of UH campuses, telework policy ends August 3

Employees were notified by System HR last week of the following announcements, which demonstrate us returning to normal operations. Please keep in mind that these dates are still tentative as the various unions are consulted.

  • June 1, 2021: UH campuses to re-open to the public
  • July 6, 2021: Offices and buildings to resume full in-person operations and services, 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • August 3, 2021: Telework policy ends; all employees return to work settings

Summer Session I

Today marks the first day of Summer Session I! For a complete list of important dates pertaining to this term, please visit the Summer Session Academic Calendar. If there are any students who have not yet registered for any Summer Session courses, please encourage them to do so immediately. The deadline to register or add Summer Session I courses is tomorrow.

Strategic Planning

Don’t let the format and lovely graphics fool you. The strategic planning document that is currently circulating is a draft document. Based on hours of campus and community conversations, it includes our best attempts to encapsulate the big ideas and commitments that will guide our institution forward. Do you see things that are missing in this big picture view? Is there something that does not resonate? Please let us know by June 15.

Coming a bit later this summer will be the action plan, the drafting of which we do not want to complete until we know we have this first document right. I know many of you are far more interested in the strategies, tactics, and actions that will operationalize the goals, and we will get some suggestions of those to you soon, but in the meantime, if you have additional ideas you would like us to consider for the action plan, please let us know that, too, using this link.

Vaccine mandate

The UH System has received quite a bit of feedback on President Lassner’s message that we will be requiring the vaccine of students and, we hope, of employees when one of the vaccines is formally approved and no longer under emergency use authorization. The vast majority of the feedback we have received has been positive. Families are relieved that we are taking this step to help keep their student safe. Religious and health exemptions will be possible, and the system for applying for those is under development. In the meantime, please continue to follow the state and county mandates regarding masking and distancing, and we will keep you informed of new developments as we have them.

Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo has been selected as one of the 2021 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs by the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) College Student Educators International and Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. The award recognizes UH Hilo and 29 other schools across the country. Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs is a national recognition that celebrates student affairs workplaces that are vibrant, diverse, supportive and committed to staff work-life balance, professional development and inclusive excellence. UH Hilo also received this recognition in 2019.

Vice Chancellor Gomes shared the following with the award-granting organizations: “Now more than ever, the work of student affairs professionals is critical for providing the holistic support that students need to be successful in college. I am proud of our student affairs professionals for serving students in exceptional ways. These are the same professionals that contribute to the building of a welcoming, safe and inclusive foundation upon which students and staff will continue to thrive in. I have profound gratitude for all of our student affairs professionals who exude compassion and grace for our students while also demonstrating care for one another. There is no other group of professionals that I would choose to do this important work with.”

I hope to see many of you at our University Forum this afternoon at 2:00 p.m!