The award is given by the UH Board of Regents as tribute to faculty members who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity, and personal values that benefit students.
Justina Taft Mattos, an assistant professor of drama at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, has received a 2021 Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching. The award is given by the UH Board of Regents as tribute to faculty members who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity, and personal values that benefit students.
Theatre about life in Hawaiʻi is Mattos’s passion, and she has been commissioned to direct plays by local and non-local playwrights for theatres on the island.
In addition to traditional theatre settings, Assistant Professor Mattos has worked in less traditional formats, using students and community actors to develop live or videotaped dramatic vignettes and presentations for the Department of Performing Arts as well as for other units at UH Hilo such as the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center and the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy.
Her passion about educating students—from grade school to university—has also brought her recognition from the Chancellor’s Executive Council as a UH Hilo Quintessential University Citizen.
- See UH Hilo Quintessential University Citizen: Justina Mattos, theater arts educator extraordinaire.
“In the performing arts department we are always reaching out to the community,” says Mattos. “Not just through the productions we do here on campus, but also through our classes that go out to the schools. Here in our rural communities, we reach out to some of the most underserved students in our state through their afterschool programs.”
Mattos was raised in Hawaiʻi and is an alumna of UH Hilo, where she focused on theatre arts, as well as Hawaiian language and culture. She earned her master of arts in theatre from the University of Oregon, and her doctor of philosophy in theatre history and criticism from UH Mānoa.
As a playwright, Mattos strives to celebrate local culture and to support the use of Hawaiian language in the wider community. She writes works for adults and children utilizing English, Hawaiʻi Creole English (Pidgin) and Hawaiian language.
Other recipients of the 2021 Regents’ teaching award are faculty from throughout the UH System: Bradley Ashburn, Mark Branner, Paul Briggs, Terrence Bruns, Jane Jaeeun Chung-Do, Tanya Dean, Derrick Higginbotham, Kimberly Koide Iwao, Karen Kamahele, Wendy Meguro, Mary Mostafanezhad, Trenton Niemi, Wayde Oshiro and Scott Rowland.