The new strategic plan is based on several guiding principles that make an impact on both students and staff through the foundational values of compassion and inclusiveness.
By Susan Enright.
The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has released the Division of Student Affairs Strategic Plan 2023-2026. In its vision to support students in reaching their full potential, the new plan lays out goals for both students and staff to achieve well being and success. The overall goal of the plan is to effectively meet the diverse needs of students and staff by creating an environment where everyone can thrive.
“The vision and mission outlined in the strategic plan for UH Hilo’s Division of Student Affairs reflect a deep commitment to nurturing student success and fostering a welcoming, inclusive, and culturally sensitive campus environment,” says Chris Holland, interim vice chancellor for student affairs. “These principles not only prioritize academic achievement but also holistic wellbeing, equity, and cultural competence, which are critical aspects of students’ overall growth and development.”
What does the Division of Student Affairs do?
The student affairs division’s primary focus is on student success from first year through graduation. To achieve this, the division provides programs, experiential activities, and supportive services that engender, in both students and staff, a sense of belonging as well as support for growth (mainly in academics for students and professionally for staff, but also physically and socially). This is mostly done outside classroom settings and in line with established theories on student development.
An example of this type of program is the Ka Lama Ku Student Leadership Development Program. Ka Lama Ku recognizes the contributions students have made in their formal and informal leadership roles on campus and acknowledges those individuals who show strong evidence of future leadership potential. The program, which is located in Campus Center, is based on Native Hawaiian cultural values of Ka Lama Kū and “Leading with Aloha.”
Other programs headed by the Division of Student Affairs are the Department of Campus Recreation and Wellness, Career Development Services, Center for Global Education and Exchange and the Study Abroad program, Disability Services, Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center, LGBTQ+ Center, Pacific Islander Student Center, and the Women’s Center, among many others. The new strategic plan affects all the division’s units.
The new plan
The new strategic plan is based on several guiding principles rooted in compassion and inclusiveness: 1) a student-centered focus where collaborative efforts are dedicated to student success; 2) inclusivity where students and staff find equity, justice, and a strong sense of belonging to the university community in all pursuits; 3) holistic well-being, where health and well being are actively cultivated in both students and staff; and 4) where collaboration is the driving force behind it all.
The three main goals are all about empowering people to thrive, both students and staff. Goals include empowering students to succeed and giving them a true sense of belonging, prioritizing student well-being and support, and simultaneously focusing on staff’s well-being and the effectiveness of the division’s programs and activities.
Driven by the core value of inclusivity, the plan grew from town hall meetings led by Interim Vice Chancellor Holland. Nearly 80 percent of division staff actively participated in the process.
Holland says in order to bring the new strategic plan to fruition, several crucial steps are being considered including the formation of teams with leaders who can coordinate efforts and ensure accountability; development of actionable tasks and adequate financial resources; ongoing data collection and analysis to identify areas that need improvement; staff training; and consistent reporting on progress with milestones celebrated to boost morale.
Holland adds that an annual review and program evaluation process should be established to assess the effectiveness of implemented strategies. “This feedback loop ensures that the plan remains relevant and adaptable. As we evolve—as a system, as a university, as a nation and society—the strategic plan should be periodically renewed to address emerging challenges and opportunities.”
“Ultimately,” says Holland, “this strategic plan for student success at UH Hilo demonstrates a strong commitment to empowering students in all facets of their university experience. Its successful implementation will require careful planning, collaboration, and a dedication to continuous improvement. With these measures in place, UH Hilo can truly provide a nurturing and thriving campus community where every student can reach their full potential.”
Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.