New leadership at UH Hilo welcomed with kīpaepae ceremony

A total of eleven new executives, vice chancellors, directors, and deans participated in the kīpaepae welcome ceremony held on the library lānai.

University leaders are welcomed with lei.
From left, Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa, Kaʻiu Kimura, and Amy Kalili are honored with lei during kīpaepae ceremony, Mookini Library’s lānai, UH Hilo, Jan. 26, 2024. (Photo: Maria Andaya/ Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center)

The sound of pahu (Hawaiian drums) and pū (conch shells) resounded from the lānai of Mookini Library at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo on January 26, 2024, as eleven new members of the university’s leadership team crossed the kīpaepae, or stepping stones, entering into their new positions.

The new leadership team includes three college directors, three deans, the chancellor’s interim executive assistant, the interim director of the Office of University Relations, and all three of the campus’s vice chancellors. Four are newcomers to campus, others moved internally from prior positions into the new leadership posts, a few transitioned from interim to permanent.

“This morning’s kīpaepae signals a new era for [the university], characterized by new ideas and new energy,” says Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin. “I’m looking forward to the positive impacts of cross-campus collaborations and teamwork that have already begun, which opens up new opportunities for more creative and impactful ways to serve our students, faculty, and staff.”

The kīpaepae was facilitated by a community of learners, staff, instructors, administrators, alums, and community partners of UH Hilo.

Taupōuri Tangarō, professor of Hawaiian studies at Hawaiʻi Community College who serves as director of Hawaiian culture and protocols at both the college and UH Hilo, addressed the group, challenging them to identify and stay grounded in what motivates their work.

“Their qualifications and accomplishments will speak for themselves, but at the core of this kīpaepae is the beckoning and affirming of a deeper reason for them being in these leadership positions, their heart for, and commitment to, the university community and Hawaiʻi overall,” says Tangarō.

A large group of ceremony participants gather on the library lanai
Participants gather for photo at kīpaepae welcome ceremony, Jan. 26, 2024, Mookini Library’s lānai, UH Hilo. Honorees are, back row from left, Michael Bitter, Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa, Kaʻiu Kimura, Amy Kalili, Todd Inouye, Rae Matsumoto, Norman Arancon, Simon Kattenhorn, Chris Holland, Jessica Yamamoto, and Kalei Rapoza. At center front are hosts of the event Bonnie Irwin and Taupōuri Tangarō, seated with members of the welcoming protocols group. (Photo: Maria Andaya/ Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center)

New leadership

  • Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
  • Kaleihiʻiikapoli Rapoza, Vice Chancellor for Administration
  • Chris Holland, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
  • Amy Kalili, Interim Director, University Relations
  • Norman Arancon, Director, College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management
  • Michael Bitter, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Todd Inouye, Director, College of Business and Economics
  • Kaʻiu Kimura, Director, Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language
  • Simon Kattenhorn, Dean, College of Natural and Health Sciences
  • Rae Matsumoto, Dean, Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy
  • Jessica Yamamoto, Interim Executive Assistant to the Chancellor

The importance of kīpaepae

Kīpaepae are Hawaiian ceremonies of welcome to the campus and community. Kīpaepae contributes to transforming the UH Hilo into a Hawaiian place of learning as defined by Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao, the UH System’s strategic commitment to transforming into a leader in Indigenous higher education.

Media release.

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