Aerial view of UH Hilo with Hilo Bay in the background.

UH Hilo FY18 Annual Report

Fiscal Year July 1, 2017—June 30, 2018

In 2017, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo celebrates its 70th year providing access to higher education for the people of Hawaiʻi Island, the state, and beyond. The university began its journey in 1947 as the Hilo Program, a UH Extension Division program where courses were taught at the old Hilo Boarding School. In 1951, the University of Hawaiʻi-Hilo Branch was founded with an enrollment of 100 students. After several transformations, the four-year Hilo College began in 1969, and by the following year merged with Hawaiʻi Community College, becoming the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

More recently, in 1991, UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College separated, but continue to share many of the same resources. Over the years since, Hawaiʻi CC and UH Hilo have worked together closely on many initiatives, most notably on the seamless transition of students into the university and on developing Native Hawaiian protocols in our teaching, research, and outreach activities.

Over the years, the university established five colleges, most recently the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy with its inaugural class ten years ago in 2007. It is the only accredited pharmacy college in the region, with a presence not only on Hawaiʻi Island but also on Oʻahu, Kauaʻi and Maui and in the South Pacific in Guam, American Sāmoa and Saipan. Currently, a new $31.3 million permanent home for the college is being built with a target date of completion in 2019.

The following is a report on progress during the 2017-2018 academic year.


New Programs

  • UH Hilo takes first steps toward a Certificate in Sustainability program. To start the process, planners have begun a Sustainability Course Designation program and, starting in fall 2017 semester, 29 courses have been designated as focusing on sustainability topics.
  • The university is in the process of creating a brand new Data Science program.The program, starting as a certificate program, is expected to commence in the fall semester of 2018, with hopes of eventually forming into a baccalaureate degree program. Two new professors are hired to kickstart the program: Travis Mandel, assistant professor of computer science, and Grady Weyenberg, assistant professor of mathematics, are collaborating with existing faculty to design new classes for the program. They will be joined in the near future by experts in the natural and social sciences.
Student at computer with nene on the screen.
Students work on their projects in Applied Digital Visualization class.
  • CyberCANOE visual display technology is being used by several departments throughout the university to enable users from varied disciplines to share and collaborate on projects (e.g., UH Hilo students learn data visualization techniques in a computer science, marine science, and art course). CANOE is the acronym for Cyber Enabled Collaboration Analysis Navigation and Observation Environment and is funded through the Academy for Creative Media System, based in Honolulu. UH Hilo technology sites are located in the computer science department, the Mookini Library, and ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi. The technology also allows collaborative projects between UH campuses throughout the state.
  • Instructor and student doing prep in lab.
    Instructor Roberto Rodriguez (left) helps student prepare for field practice of unmanned aerial vehicles (see field photos below). Photos by Kimiko Taguchi, click to enlarge.

    Planning for future workforce needs, the university launches four new courses this semester to establish a Certificate in Unmanned Aircraft Systems, a first step in the long-planned aeronautical science program. The certificate program focuses on training in the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and the new courses offered this fall include hands-on classroom and field work in an introductory course on UAS, robotics (building and flying drones), simulated missions, and flying techniques.

Expanded Programs

New College

  • UH Hilo consolidates natural and health sciences programs into new College of Natural and Health Sciences that opens July 1, 2018. Interim Dean Jim Beets says the college will create new educational and research opportunities for students, foster greater interdisciplinary teaching, and lead to new and improved career pathways. The existing academic units—natural sciences, nursing, kinesiology and exercise science—will also have better representation of student, faculty, and budget issues.


  • In spring 2018, UH Hilo enters into an agreement with Bangladesh maritime university. The universities will share academic and research opportunities in maritime safety, security, and navigational technologies, and marine, maritime and environmental management.


(Left to right) Don Straney, Marcia Sakai, Joseph Sanchez, Greg Chun.
(Left to right) Don Straney, Marcia Sakai, Joseph Sanchez, Greg Chun.

In July of 2017, UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney announces his reassignment to a UH System leadership role as vice president of academic planning and policy, effective Aug. 1, 2017. Straney served as UH Hilo chancellor beginning in 2010 and is credited with improving graduation rates and increasing the number of Native Hawaiian, STEM and transfer students from local community colleges. Under his leadership, the campus worked closely with local educational, agricultural and business communities to address economic, workforce and quality-of-life issues.

Marcia Sakai, UH Hilo vice chancellor for administrative affairs, takes the helm as interim UH Hilo chancellor, as of Aug. 2017. Sakai joined the UH Hilo faculty in 1991 in the field of economics becoming tenured and promoted to the top professor ranks over the years. She was the founding dean of UH Hilo’s College of Business and Economics in 2005, and then was appointed vice chancellor for administrative affairs in 2011. As vice chancellor, she made great progress toward improving campus-wide efficiency in several areas, notably technology infrastructure and sustainability measures with special focus on energy conservation.

New director of UH Hilo Mookini Library starts in June 2018. Joseph Sanchez, who previously served as director of a public library system in Colorado, is a nationally recognized leader on e-books, e-content, technology and intellectual property in public libraries.

Greg Chun is appointed as senior advisor to UH President David Lassner and UH Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai in overseeing the fulfillment of the responsibilities of the entire UH System on Maunakea. Chun is a UH Mānoa faculty member whose work focuses on the intersection of land use, community engagement and culture. Chun also chairs the Maunakea Management Board.


FY 2018 Initial Budget Allocation 9/18/17 (PDF). Additional budget documents and further information can be found at the UH Hilo Budget Office website.


UH Hilo ranks well in 2018 U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges Rankings. UH Hilo ranked 66 among Best Regional Universities West, placing it in the top 47 percent in the category. The report rankings surveyed 1,600 colleges among more than 3,000 four-year institutions throughout the U.S. Its methodology considers, among various factors, endowment size, rate of alumni giving and student-to-faculty ratio, which tend to favor private institutions.

LGBTQ+ logo, rainbow colors splashed onto a heart shape.The UH Hilo LGBTQ+ Center celebrates its one-year anniversary in September 2017. In the first year since its creation, the center hosts and participates in many events on campus including Hilo Pride Parade, the social justice film series, and Coming Out Day. The events are a great success with large numbers of students and community members in attendance. As a result, the LGBTQ+ community is able to spread awareness and create a more inclusive community.

“Local First” menu is available at the Campus Center Dining Room. Each day, the majority of the food served on the campus of UH Hilo is from local sources, increasing annually since 2012. Once a month, on the first Wednesday of the month, the daily menu is 100 percent locally grown food and called “Local First.”

UH Hilo receives Blue Zones status; the university is now part of nationwide program to promote healthy living. UH Hilo joins a number of businesses and organizations working together to transform Hilo into a Blue Zones community by adopting healthy best practices.

Group of graduates bedecked in lei.
2018 Spring Commencement. Photo by Bob Douglas/UH Hilo Stories.


At 2017 Fall Commencement, candidates petition for degrees and/or certificates from the colleges of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (17); Arts and Sciences (255); Business and Economics (33); Pharmacy (1); Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language (9); and also various post-graduate credentials (14). Keynote speaker is Master Navigator Kālepa Baybayan and student speaker is communication major Anne Rivera.

At 2018 Spring Commencement, UH Hilo students petition for degrees and/or certificates from the colleges of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (22); Arts and Sciences (589); Business and Economics (57); Pharmacy (143); Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language (48); and for various post-graduate credentials (19). Keynote speaker is Henk Rogers, a Dutch-born, Hawaiʻi Island resident, video game entrepreneur and leading clean energy advocate. Students speaker is Matthew Ruiz, Jr, a sociology major who will be entering UH Hilo’s Master of Arts in Teaching program this summer.


The UH Board of Regents affirms UH’s commitment to the collaborative stewardship of Maunakea’s cultural, natural, educational and scientific resources by passing a resolution at the Aug 2017 BOR meeting. The resolution directs the university to move forward to build a global model of harmonious and inspirational stewardship that integrates traditional indigenous knowledge and modern science.

Summit of Maunakea with observatories.
Subaru, Keck and NASA Telescopes. Mauna Kea Summit, Hawaiʻi Island. Photo by Robert Linsdell via Wikimedia.

Healthcare providers throughout the state are using technology from a project led by the UH Hilo pharmacy college that helps pharmacists manage high-risk patients’ medications across a variety of settings. The technology was first used in the federally funded $14.3 million Pharm2Pharm program, operated from the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. Pharm2Pharm established a set of tools that were implemented through the Hawaiʻi Health Information Exchange system to communicate important clinical information to support patient care.

UH Hilo Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center is doing workforce training and helping develop sustainable seafood production. About 400 students have been employed at the aquaculture center since workforce training started there in 2008. UH Hilo has the only four-year aquaculture program in the state, and the center has the only facility dedicated to aquaculture and coastal management education, research and outreach to the community and industry.

Crowd touring canoe.
Hōkūle’a visits Hilo; UH Hilo co-sponsors educational expo featuring programs that promote “mālama honua” or care for the planet (see photo essay). Crew members gave presentations, canoe tours, and shared wayfinding lore and lessons learned from the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.
Gardens at Imiloa
ʻImiloa Astronomy Center

ʻImiloa Astronomy Center

  • ʻImiloa Astronomy Center continues its mission to bring together members of the Hawaiian and astronomy communities to share the cultural and natural history of Maunakea to school children, students, teachers, local residents, and visitors from around the world.
  • Serves 90,000 patrons in FY18.
  • The center’s total revenue from all sources is $3,070,615.
    • Earned revenue at the center itself is $585,940, and the restaurant’s is $190,136.
    • Donations (Including membership) total $440,607. Of note: $200,000 is donated to the garden fund—the center plans to create an outdoor classroom in its native garden; the garden is named in memory of Patricia Anna Weber Lee, whose family made the donation.
    • Total grant awards are $473,440.
    • State funds total $884,051 (Tuition and Fees Special Fund) and $496,440 (General Funds).
  • Administration
    • Through a UH Hilo reorganization, ʻImiloa acquires several new positions: Deputy Director (formerly Conference Center Director), Marketing Director, Office Assistant and Events Facilitator. These positions support ʻImiloa operations while also contributing to the overall success of the UH Hilo campus.
  • New outreach programs
    • ʻImiloa Culture & Science Teacher Training Program: a partnership with the UH Hilo School of Education that provides ʻImiloa access to current Department of Education/Charter science teachers. The teachers are given access to ʻImiloa curriculum, facilities, and expert partners to formulate culture-based science curriculum. They pilot their curriculum in their classrooms, and also at the center through ʻImiloa programs.
    • A Hua He Inoa: A pilot project that convenes high school students, Hawaiian language experts, and astronomy experts in order to support the students in creating Hawaiian names for astronomy discoveries made from Haleakalā and Maunakea.
    • Maunakea Scholars MANU ʻImiloa: A new curriculum is created to support ʻImiloaʻs partnership with the Maunakea Scholars program.
  • Annual outreach programs
    • Merrie Monarch Cultural Events
    • ʻImiloa Annual Birthday Celebration
    • ʻImiloa Wayfinding Festival
    • Educational outreach in support of community events


Despite declining fall 2017 enrollment, graduation and recruitment continue to improve as UH Hilo meets the growing graduation performance targets set by the UH System. Fall 2017 enrollment at UH Hilo is 3,539 students, down 3.5 percent from last fall. But it’s important to note that UH Hilo recruits 415 first-time freshmen in fall 2017, up 12.5 percent from last fall. Further, graduation rates are improving; UH Hilo sets a record in fall 2017 with 798 undergraduate baccalaureate degrees awarded, a 37.3 percent increase from 2011. Total degrees awarded in FY18 are 942 (down 1.36 percent from FY17, which was a 6.94 percent increase from the previous year): 785 baccalaureate degrees, 77 master degrees, 2 doctoral degrees, and 78 professional practice. For details, see UH Hilo 2017-2018 Hawaiʻi Graduation Initiative Scorecard.

Fall 2017 enrollment, detailed characteristics (selected, UH Office of Institutional Research and Analysis) :

  • Total enrollment: 3,539
  • Undergraduates: 2,945
  • Graduate: 568
  • Men: 1,294
  • Women: 2,229
  • Hawaiʻi residents: 2,525
  • Hawaiʻi Island residents: 1,834
  • Resident status: 2,429
  • Non-resident: 1,110
  • Western Undergrad Exchange: 300
  • U.S. citizen: 3,163
  • International: 136
  • Full time: 2,743
  • Asian: 808
  • Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 1,222
  • Hawaiian ancestry: 1,056
  • Caucasian: 833
  • Mixed race: 479
  • First time freshman: 415
  • First generation: 556

There are 740 students living in UH Hilo residence halls, an all-time high for occupancy in university housing (compared to 672 students last fall).

The university is developing a new Enrollment Management Plan that takes an integrated, strategic and holistic approach to student success. The goal is to return enrollment to 2010 levels by the year 2020. Resources are being redeployed into strengthening and developing new student and residence life programming and creating pathways for transfer students from within state of Hawaiʻi. This is part of a UH system-wide initiative to focus on core education function and grow enrollment, even while the general national trend is for continued higher education enrollment decline. Each of the 10 campuses are developing their own enrollment management plans with specific goals.

The Office of Financial Aid awards more than $64 million in financial aid in fall 2017 and unveils a new micro-scholarship program to Hawaiʻi Island high school counselors. This program will allow students, starting from their freshman year in high school, to earn funds toward a scholarship redeemable only upon enrollment at UH Hilo after graduation. Financial Aid also increases communication to students through weekly emails about requirements, deadlines, and students’ financial aid academic progress status—this is expected to greatly impact retention.

Advising to freshmen is now mandatory, and students are required to declare a major after 60 credits. Select departments are conducting their own advising, some using peer mentors; there are now dedicated academic advisors and peer advisors in psychology, kinesiology, pre-nursing, and marine science. In fall 2017, 83 students spent a total of 427 hours with mentors. Currently, the advising office is in the process of reviewing the matching of students and mentors for fall 2018 registration.


The UH Hilo Office of Equal Opportunity expands its work. Here is some of the important work done by the office in 2017-2018:

  • Continues to work to advance the Strategic Plan of the UH System, UH Hilo, and Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao.
  • Responds quickly to allegations of sexual misconduct and other forms of discrimination on campus. Processes over 100 informal complaints, concerns, or requests for assistance/resources brought forward. Formal complaints are limited to only a handful, but are fully investigated, leading to findings and sanctions in some cases. OEO also responds to external formal complaints such as those filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and/or the Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission, with no findings of discrimination determined by these external agencies.
  • Increases outreach, in-class education, faculty and staff education, tabling at events, and sponsoring or co-sponsoring events that promote the following themes: You Are Not At Fault, Take Back the Night, Hawaiʻi Says No More, Blanketed by Blame, Hands are For…, and #BehindthePost. Events include Hawaiʻi Island Pride Parade and Festival; the Clothesline Project; Lyrics, Lines and Love; Healthy Relationship Conversation; Denim Day; Prep Day; and the Sexual Assault Awareness Flag Display.
  • Launches a new program called Confidential Advocacy and Prevention Education (CAPE) that focuses on strengthening resources, awareness, and preventative measures about sexual harassment and assault.
  • Analyzes university’s employment data and creates an annual Affirmative Action Plan as required by law and continues to offer recruiting and hiring guidance to ensure a discrimination free selection process.
  • Makes workplace accommodations for numerous employees, while continuing accommodations for employees granted in prior years. The office anticipates ADA requests will continue to increase as the workforce ages and as work is more and more stationary.
  • Reaches out to the community, collaborating on efforts to strengthen equal opportunity across sectors. Partners include Hawaiʻi Community College, the UH System’s Office of Institutional Equity, UH Mānoa’s PAU Violence, the Hilo Prosecutor’s Office, the local YMCA, Zonta International, and the American Association of University Women, as well as other local and national advocates.


The university welcomes new faculty and staff: 15 new faculty, three administrators, and five student support staff joined the UH Hilo ‘ohana, in fall 2017.

Twenty-three faculty receive tenure and/or promotion.

Kaiu Kimura and Larry Kimura stand in front of 'Imiloa Astronomy Center.
Kaʻiu Kimura and her uncle Larry Kimura at ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, UH Hilo campus.

In Nov. 2017, two Hawaiian language experts name the first interstellar object seen passing through the solar system using the Pan STARRS telescope on Haleakala. The object is officially given the name ʻOumuamua. The name, which was chosen in consultation with UH Hilo Hawaiian language experts Kaʻiu Kimura, executive director of ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, and her uncle Larry Lindsey Kimura, associate professor of Hawaiian language, reflects the way this object is like a scout or messenger sent from the distant past to reach out to the solar system (ʻou means “reach out for” and mua, with the second mua placing emphasis, means “first, in advance of”).

Two faculty members of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke’elikolani College of Hawaiian Language at UH Hilo are honored at ceremonies held at the capitol where the State Legislature recognizes 40 Years of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) as a state language. The UH Hilo kumu (teachers), among five statewide, are honored for their leadership in reviving and teaching ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and teaching other subjects through ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. The honored are Associate Professor Larry Lindsey Kimura and Assistant Professor Kananinohea “Kanani” Kawaiʻaeʻa Mākaʻimoku. Both are members of the faculty at Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

UH Hilo alumnus Jonathan Koch is awarded a prestigious fellowship, becoming one of five 2018 David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellows, to study genomic diversity of Hawaiian bees. Koch is doing postdoctoral work at his alma mater, helping to establish the Hilo campus as a hub for high impact genomics science.

Seri Luangphinith
Seri Luangphinith

UH Hilo English professor’s new book explores the history of Korean immigrants to Hawaiʻi Island. The making of The Paths We Cross: The Lives and Legacies of Koreans on the Big Island (Ka Noio ʻAʻe Ale, UH Hilo Independent Press, 2018) was a long and arduous journey taken by Professor of English Seri Luangphinith to unveil past mysteries about the island’s Korean immigrants.

Three UH Hilo faculty are honored with annual awards in teaching excellence. Honorees: UH Board of Regents Award for Excellence in Teaching to Steven Lundblad, professor of geology; the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching to Patricia Hensley, assistant professor of nursing; the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching to Lisa Parr, instructor in marine science.

Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai hosts event May 3, 2018, to recognize the year’s retirees and longtime employees’ service milestones. At the same event, award-winning members of UH Hilo ʻohana are honored.


GRAND TOTAL FY18: $12,950,593.

  • Chancellor: $1,958,215 (5 awards)
  • College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management: $1,077,332 (16).
  • College of Arts and Sciences: $2,928,255 (32)
  • College of Business and Economics: $120,000 (1)
  • College of Continuing Education and Community Service: $31,750 (2)
  • College of Pharmacy: $196,873 (8)
  • Hawaiʻi Small Business Development Center: $1,142,235 (7)
  • ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi: $832,854 (9)
  • Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language: $1,774,041 (7)
  • Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs: $57,000 (1)
  • Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs: $2,250 (1)
  • Vice Chancellor for Research: $1,482,154 (32)
  • Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs: $1,347,664 (12)


There are 14 ongoing Capital Improvement Projects underway totaling $60 million. Top projects:

  • Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, $31.3M
  • UH Telescopes on Maunakea, $4.2M
  • Life Sciences Bldg Renovations, $4.9M
  • Emergency Shelter, Student Housing, $2.8M

A $6.4 million air conditioning upgrade at Hale ʻAlahonua Housing is initiated ($3M approved, $3.4M request FY19).

A new gathering place is created on campus outside the Sciences and Technology Building. The new solar charging stations—picnic tables with overhead solar panels and ports for charging electronic devices—were built through a collaborative project in the summer of 2017 with UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College pooling resources.

Three classrooms at UH Hilo are transformed into spacious, interactive learning spaces in fall 2017. The rooms are outfitted with technology for students to plug in laptops through which they can interact freely with each other and professors, absorb information from smart 3-D screens and sound bar systems, and write down ideas in shared media. The project is part of the UH System goal to create 21st Century Facilities and “modernize facilities and campus environments to be safe, sustainable and supportive of modern practices in teaching, learning and research,” and is the first step in the development of a formal UH Hilo 21st century classroom plan.


Lava Flow

  • UH Hilo has a vital role in response to historic lava eruption on Hawaiʻi Island. UH Hilo professors, scientists and students are providing valuable expertise and resources on multiple fronts, helping government officials assess the hazards to the public and its personnel, and decide where and how to respond.
  • UH Hilo is providing real-time chemistry analysis of lava samples to U.S. Geological Survey scientists to help determine how the lava will behave and how fast it will move. UH Hilo has been analyzing lava flow samples from Kīlauea since 2013 but the composition barely changed. Then came the May 2018 flow and a dramatic change. UH Hilo volcanologist Cheryl Gansecki says it’s the first time anyone has tried to really look at the chemistry at the same time the volcano is erupting.
  • UH Hilo researchers are using seafaring robots to study lava entering ocean at Kapoho Bay. Now that the lava flow is entering the ocean at the bay (June 2018), a team of researchers is using autonomous ocean robots, an unmanned technology, to capture live ocean data close to the entry area.
Shihwu Sung
Shihwu Sung

Shihwu Sung, professor of applied engineering at UH Hilo, is conducting research on converting waste into biodiesel energy. The research project is Sung’s primary focus since he was hired in 2014 as coordinator of the university’s energy engineering program after previously serving in a prestigious position at Iowa State University.

Aquaculturist Maria Haws is leading a new project to develop opportunities in shellfish farming for Hawaiʻi and the U.S. affiliated Pacific Islands. The project is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via the UH Sea Grant program. Haws, an associate professor of aquaculture and director of the UH Hilo Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center, will manage the $150,000 grant, which is part of 18 Sea Grant programs around the country to receive funding from NOAA Sea Grant. The purpose is to advance the development of a sustainable marine and coastal aquaculture industry in the United States.

UH Hilo researchers, in affiliation with Duke and Cornell universities, co-author a study that suggests making croplands more efficient through algae production could unlock an important negative emission technology to combat climate change. The research is funded by a U.S. Department of Energy award and is published in the journal Earth’s Future. This funding is a Marine Algae Industrialization Consortium (MAGIC) grant for which Bruce Mathews, dean of the UH Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management, serves as the facilitating principal investigator at UH Hilo.

Adam Pack under water photographing whales.
Adam Pack prepares to measure a female humpback whale using videogrammetry in waters off Maui, Hawaiʻi. Courtesy photo.

A collaborative team from several institutions, including UH Hilo, are investigating behavior of humpback whale mothers in Hawaiian breeding grounds. The researchers believe whale mothers with calves employ a strategy in habitat selection that may help them avoid male harassment. A member of the team, Adam Pack, is a professor and researcher at UH Hilo with joint appointments in psychology and biology. Pack’s research focuses on marine mammal behavioral ecology and cognition; he has been studying humpback whales in Hawaiʻi, their major breeding grounds, for over 20 years.

UH Hilo researchers are part of team studying coral under historic World War II battlefield. An alumnus and a graduate student from UH Hilo take part in an expedition in early April with a team of researchers to study a forgotten World War II battlefield in the Western Pacific. The research team is studying the impact on surrounding coral communities from the amphibious invasion of Peleliu in the Republic of Palau.


The National Science Foundation awards $1,099,959 to UH to support the advancement of women and minorities in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields at its seven community colleges. A partnership between UH Community Colleges and UH Hilo, the project will use virtual tools to connect remote island campus locations in mentoring and coaching trainings for administrators and senior faculty. The program will also implement a mentoring and coaching program for women STEM faculty of diverse race and ethnic backgrounds.


Rose holding UAV.
Graduate student and researcher Rose Hart holds a drone she used to survey coastal areas.

Rose Hart, a graduate student in tropical conservation biology and environmental science, wins a prestigious award for her climate change research using drones. Hart received an Excellent Award at the 2017 Forum Math-for-Industry conference held at UH Mānoa for her research using small unmanned aerial systems to map shoreline change at Hapuna State Beach Park.

Current UH Hilo undergraduate Rosie Lee and recent graduate Keelee Martin spend a month as part of a NOAA research team studying the effects of climate change on the reef and fish populations in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The purpose of the voyage aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship Hiʻialakai to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is to conduct research on coral and fish populations. Lee is trained to be a part of the Rapid Ecological Assessment fish team. Martin is an intern on the Benthic Team, the group that investigated coral.

UH Hilo presents the annual Parade of Nations as part of International Education Week in November. The event celebrates United Nations Day and the university’s geographic and ethnic diversity. United Nations Day honors and promotes human rights, social progress, and world peace. Students from different parts of the world also shared displays about their countries on the Library Lanai.

Juvette stands with Chancellor Marcia Sakai and a big oversized check of the prize.
Juvette Kahawaiʻi and Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai at HIPlan award ceremonies, Sept. 2017.

English majors Uʻilani Dasalla, Tynsl Kailimai, Ciarra-Lynn Parinas, and Leomanaolamaikalani Peleiholani-Blankenfeld each present their research papers at the International Journal of Arts and Sciences conference held at The British School of Rome, Italy. The conference featured over 100 international scholars in Nov. 2017.

A senior from the School of Business and Economics wins the cost of tuition for her entry in a business plan competition. Business major Juvette Kahawaiʻi draws up a plan to launch Kupaʻa Tax and Accounting Corporation, a family business that will provide not only tax preparation but bookkeeping and payroll administration for small businesses. For the award, UH Hilo will cover the cost of Kahawaiʻi’s tuition next year, about $7,200.

Graduate student Jeffery Stallman is taking part in an ambitious worldwide project headed by the Smithsonian. The goal of the Global Genome Initiative is to collect at least one species from half of the genera (estimated 160,000 -200,000) on Earth by 2020. In support of the expansive project, the Smithsonian has provided funding for Stallman to take the lead on gathering tissue samples and analyzing the DNA from all native plants in the Compositae (daisy) family found on Hawaiʻi Island.

State Rep. Mark Nakashima (center) stands with UH Hilo HOSA delegates (l-r) Jeremy Villanueva, Lark Jason Canico, Kelly Gani, Leslie Arce, Travis Taylor, Sheldon Cabudol and Deserie Pagatpatan. Missing: Daniel Kimura, Kateleen Caye Bio and Kendrick Justin Dalmacio.
State Rep. Mark Nakashima (center) stands with UH Hilo HOSA delegates (l-r) Jeremy Villanueva, Lark Jason Canico, Kelly Gani, Leslie Arce, Travis Taylor, Sheldon Cabudol and Deserie Pagatpatan. Missing: Daniel Kimura, Kateleen Caye Bio and Kendrick Justin Dalmacio. Courtesy photo.

UH Hilo students excel at the 13th Annual Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) – Future Health Professionals State Leadership Conference held on Oʻahu in Feb. 2018. All 10 delegates placed in competitive events, with one team taking first place in the public service announcement category. The students are undergraduates at UH Hilo and have varying majors and fields of interest such as nursing, pre-nursing, pre-pharmacy, and pre-medicine.

UH Hilo hosts the annual International Nights (see photo essay) in Feb. 2018. Each year, the UH Hilo International Student Association produces a two-night show that features dance performances from the many different cultures and countries represented at UH Hilo. International Nights is a long-standing tradition at the university that spans over three decades, and is a favorite event on campus among students, the community and visitors.

UH Hilo Marine Option Program students bring home awards from statewide MOP Symposium. The students are outstanding representatives of UH Hilo, and bring home four major awards, including best research presentation. Winners: Julia Stewart wins best research presentation and also the Ana Toy Ng MOP Memorial award for her outstanding contributions to MOP; Wheatley Crawley wins best poster presentation for her project; and Michelle Nason wins the John P. Craven Child of the Sea award for her work establishing a coral nursery on Hawaiʻi Island.

Sixty-six UH Hilo Vulcans are honored for academic achievement. Student-athletes who were on a team last fall, and achieved an accumulative grade point average of 3.3 or higher, qualified for the award.


Aerial view of campus showing PV array on rooftops.
UH Hilo’s PV array system has a capacity of about 500 KW and is distributed among the Student Services Center, the College of Business and Economics facility (the former Student Services Building), the Mookini Library, and the Performing Arts Center. The array saves the university approximately $300,000 per year in electricity costs. Click photo to enlarge.

UH Hilo continues to take the lead in many initiatives that focus on clean energy and sustainability. There are many projects and initiatives happening on campus that stretch across a wide variety of sectors. Some of these projects include repair and renovation, moving the university toward a more sustainable and green future. A major goal of these projects is to become carbon neutral by 2050—the renovations and changes are helping to reach this goal. Learn more about UH Hilo’s battery storage, lighting, energy rebates, and “The Big Plan.”

In energy savings, UH Hilo is a leader in the UH System on sub-metering and baseline data recording, bi-level lighting, energy requirements in design contracts, a reinvestment account, and Hawaiʻi Energy Rebates. The campus is implementing full energy metering and monitoring of campus buildings. Currently, 100 meters record and report photovoltaic array data for all PV installations on campus. The data helps assess and calculate savings. To date, LED lighting conversion has been completed in 20 buildings, saving a calculated 217,524 kWh annually, and power savings continue to increase.

An Energy Storage and Green Waste to Energy project is under construction at UH Hilo. The pilot project, which consists of a new 250KW/500KWH self-contained turn-key battery storage and power generation system, will provide a new self-contained turn-key battery storage and power generation system for the campus. The battery storage is designed for peak utility rate shaving and storing renewable energy, meaning energy will be stored during lower demand energy periods and then used during high demand energy periods.

UH students, faculty and staff gather for the 6th Annual Hawaiʻi Sustainability in Higher Education Summit in Feb. 2018 on Hawaiʻi Island. This year’s theme is on the “Meeting of Wisdoms,” with focus on indigenous ways of knowing and western empirical science. Delegations from all 10 UH campuses learn from local practitioners, national experts on sustainability, and each other while setting the action agenda for upcoming campus initiatives. A panel discussion on incorporating Hawaiian cultural knowledge with modern western science to meet the sustainability challenges facing Hawaiʻi is held on the Hilo campus during the summit.

The Students of Sustainability (SOS Club) is working on a campus compost initiative by securing bins for the Campus Center Dining Room. The bins will help UH Hilo reduce its food waste because the waste collected will be composted near one of the campus’s sustainability gardens. Members of the SOS club are providing the labor for this project and will help ensure the composting process is completed correctly and safely.

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