Large group of students at the campus center plaza, group shot of the freshman class.

UH Hilo FY19 Annual Report

(Fiscal Year July 1, 2018—June 30, 2019)

The following is the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo FY19 Annual Report (July 1, 2018—June 30, 2019). The report is presented in sections that reflect accomplishments of the UH Hilo Strategic Plan Goals:

  1. Provide learning experiences and support to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead in their professional and personal lives.
  2. Inspire excellence in teaching, research and collaboration.
  3. Foster a vibrant and sustainable environment within which to study, work and live.
  4. Cultivate, sustain and reflect a diverse, multicultural university that is rooted in the indigenous history of Hawaiʻi.
  5. Strengthen UH Hilo’s impact on the community, island, and state of Hawaiʻi through responsive higher education, community partnerships, and knowledge and technology transfer.
  6. Facilitate organizational excellence through continuous innovation, responsible resource development, and effective communication.


Goal 1: Provide learning experiences and support to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead in their professional and personal lives


New Programs

A new certificate in data science is launched in the fall of 2018; UH Hilo plans to seek approval for a bachelor’s degree in data science in 2020.

A new aeronautical sciences degree program is approved by the UH Board of Regents at their monthly meeting held in Nov. 2018. The provisional bachelor of science program has two concentrations, one in commercial professional pilot training, and another in commercial aerial information technology (which utilizes drones), where there is a high projected workforce need in the state.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is granted permanent status by the UH Board of Regents, changing the program’s status from provisional to established. The doctor of nursing practice is a terminal degree in nursing. The program began at UH Hilo in 2012 and provides training for students to become family nurse practitioners—FNPs are considered primary care providers with global prescriptive authority. The program objective is to provide nurses with doctoral-level education focusing on primary care, cultural diversity, health disparities, health promotion and disease prevention in rural communities. A leadership track is offered for those interested in this area of practice.

New College

UH Hilo consolidates natural and health sciences programs into new College of Natural and Health Sciences; the college 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.


The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy announces it will begin educational and research projects in Japan thanks to an agreement with Musashino University. Dean of the college, Carolyn Ma, meets with officials in July 2018 to discuss the memorandum of agreement so that UH Hilo can be a part of the beginning of Musashino University’s international student exchange program.


The Kahuawaiola Indigenous Teacher Education Program is the first teacher education program in the world to receive accreditation from the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium. The accreditation is a prestigious validation that “the public is being served with maximum educational effectiveness.” The indigenous education consortium also renews accreditation for the UH Hilo Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

Student Accomplishments (Academic, Selected)

Marcia Sakai, Jordan Kumimura, Kalei Rapoza.
Left to right, Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai, business student Jordan Kamimura, and Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Kalei Rapoza at the rollout event of the Teapresso Bar concession March 13, UH Hilo. The concession will support a new food pantry program on campus; Kamimura created the business plan for the pop-up and food pantry.

The concept of a campus food pantry for students in need is developed by business student Jordan Kamimura in the fall of 2018. Hale Paʻi ʻAi, a one-year pilot project that launches a soft opening in April, is officially opening in fall 2019 to provide services to students in need of reliable access to food. The Administrative Affairs project is to help students who may experience limited access to food at different times of the year due to lack of money and other resources. Kamimura’s business concept includes pop-up concessions on campus to provide funding support.

Geneviève Blanchet
Geneviève Blanchet

A group of conservation biology graduate students present their work at the 25th Annual Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference held in Aug. 2018 in Honolulu. Two of the students come home with honors in two categories: Geneviève Blanchet was awarded Outstanding Graduate Student Oral Presentation, and Koa Matsuoka was awarded Runner-Up for Outstanding Graduate Poster Presentation.

Graduate and undergraduate women students plan and organize the inaugural Women in STEM Conference held in February 2019. The all-day event brings together women leaders, scientists, students, and members of the campus community to discuss the current state of affairs for women in the STEM fields. Topics cover social history of women in STEM, the importance of mentorship, the issues of sexual harassment, mental health, the wage gap, work-family-life balance, retaining women STEM students, and creating a supportive climate for underrepresented minorities in STEM.

Alexis Cabrera and Lynn Morrison
From left, student Alexis Cabrera with mentor Lynn Morrison

UH Hilo Marine Option Program students once again make a big splash at the annual statewide MOP Symposium. Bryant Grady’s project on reef ecology wins Best Research Presentation, which has been won by UH Hilo Marine Option Program students for 26 of the past 31 years. Alexa Runyan wins the Pacon Award for the best use of technology.

Three UH Hilo students present their research projects at the annual meeting of the worldwide Society for Applied Anthropology held in Oregon where 2,000 academics and consultants attend the event. UH Hilo undergraduate Alexis Cabrera, with the mentorship of anthropology professor Lynn Morrison, wins 3rd prize out of 90 student submissions (mostly master’s and doctoral projects) for her poster presentation.

Rebekah Loving
Rebekah Loving

Senior Rebekah Loving, who hails from Hāmākua and is double majoring in computer science and mathematics, is researching RNA sequencingher work gains the attention of a “who’s who” of top research universities across the country. Loving receives acceptance letters with offers of full funding to doctoral programs in biostatistics, computational biology, and computer science from Harvard, Columbia University, University of California Berkeley, and the California Institute of Technology.

A UH Hilo student gathers data on effectiveness of a new machine designed to rid local beach of microplastics. UH Hilo senior Nicolas Vanderzyl, majoring in marine science, is collecting and analyzing data about the effectiveness of a new machine designed to remove microplastics from the sediments of beach sand. The research is being conducted at Kamilo Point on Hawaiʻi Island.

Nine student delegates from UH Hilo receive top honors at the 14th Annual Hawaiʻi HOSA – Future Health Professionals State Leadership Conference held in February 2019 on Oʻahu. In the team category of Public Service Announcement (PSA), sophomore Shayne Cabudol, senior Dean Jason Castro, sophomore Rhodney Hernando, freshman Christian Lopez, and sophomore Travis Taylor capture first with their 30-second PSA video, “Be the First… Tobacco-Free Generation!” promoting awareness about tobacco addiction and becoming tobacco-free. In the individual competition, sophomore Daniel Kimura receives gold in medical terminology and junior Kateleen Caye Bio places first in pharmacology.

Tifaine Crivello
Tifaine Crivello

A Hilo High School graduate now studying pharmaceutical sciences at UH Hilo is fusing traditional Hawaiian practices into her pharmaceutical research. Tifaine Crivello, a student at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, believes knowing the importance of culture and tradition can help in facilitating modern health practices.

A record 74 Vulcans are recognized at the 2018-19 Student-Athlete Academic Honors Reception held in April 2019. Student-athletes with an accumulative grade point average of 3.3 or higher qualify for the award.

Student Accomplishments (Athletic, Selected)

Team and coaches, 11 total, stand in front of banner that reads: NCAA 2019 Division II Men's Tennis Championship. #D2Tennis
UH Hilo Men’s Tennis team. In the best season ever for UH Hilo Men’s Tennis, the team ties for third place in the country after advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Men’s Tennis Championships in May 2019 at Sanlando Tennis Center, FL.

In the best season ever for UH Hilo Men’s Tennis, the team ties for third place in the country after advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Men’s Tennis Championships in May 2019, Sanlando Tennis Center, FL.

The Vulcans finish 6th of 12 teams in the 2018–2019 Pacific West Conference’s Commissioner Cup. This is UH Hilo athletics best positioning in 10 years; the university had been 12th of 14 teams the last two years, and were 11th in 2015–2016. The increase in standings is due to the improvement in the athletic success of several of the UH Hilo teams:

  • Women’s Soccer finished a program best 2nd place in the PacWest Conference.
  • Softball finished in 2nd place as well and narrowly missed NCAA postseason play.
  • Baseball finished in 2nd place in the PacWest Conference and broke a 27-year NCAA record for consecutive losing seasons finishing the year with a 26-19 record their most wins since 1992.
  • Men’s Tennis also finished in 2nd place in the PacWest Conference and advanced to the NCAA National Championship Semifinals, the first UH Hilo program to do so since becoming an NCAA program.
  • Women’s volleyball also had a nice season finishing in 3rd place in the PacWest Conference which also aided in the rise in the standings.
  • Men’s golf finished in 4th place in the PacWest Conference Championship.

Enrollment and Recruitment

UH Hilo’s challenge is to find the very best ways to continue the university’s mission of providing access to higher education for the people of Hawaiʻi island and the state in order for all to move successfully into the future.

For details about enrollment, recruitment, and graduation rates, see: Hilo section of UH System Enrollment Management Report, January 2019.

See also Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai’s UH Hilo Enrollment Management Report presented to the UH Board of Regents, Nov. 1, 2018.

Fall 2018 enrollment, selected detailed characteristics (for further data and annual comparisons, see UH Office of Institutional Research and Analysis):

  • Total enrollment: 3,406
  • Undergraduates: 2,796
  • Graduate: 590
  • Men: 1,194
  • Women: 2,192
  • Hawaiʻi residents: 2,494
  • Hawaiʻi Island residents: 1,798
  • Resident status: 2,402
  • Non-resident status: 1,004
  • Western Undergrad Exchange: 297
  • U.S. citizen: 3,049
  • International:127
  • Full time: 2,644
  • Asian: 1,993
  • Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 1,230
  • Hawaiian ancestry: 1,047
  • Caucasian: 765
  • Mixed race: 475
  • First time freshman: 413
  • First generation: 625


Graduate moving tassel.
At 2018 Fall Commencement, students transform from candidate to graduate.

At 2018 Fall Commencement, approximately 192 students petition for degrees and/or certificates from the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Natural and Health Sciences; the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management; the College of Business and Economics; the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy; and Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, and for various post-graduate credentials. Lieutenant Governor Joshua Green gives the keynote address, and English major Kai Anthony Gaitley is student speaker.

At 2019 Spring Commencement, approximately 640 students petition for degrees and/or certificates from the College of Arts and Sciences; the College Natural and Health Sciences; the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management; the College of Business and Economics; the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy; Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language; and for various post-graduate credentials. News reporter Mileka Lincoln is keynote speaker. Misty Figueira, with a bachelor of arts in English, a bachelor of arts in sociology. and a certificate in creative writing, is student speaker.

Goal 2: Inspire excellence in teaching, research and collaboration

Teaching, Research, and Curriculum Advancement Awards

Teaching Awards. Three UH Hilo faculty members receive teaching awards at 2019 Spring Commencement:

  • Heng “Helen” Tien, Instructor in Marketing and Management, and Coordinator of Career Development at the College of Business and Economics, receives the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
  • Supakit Wongwiwatthananukit, Professor of Pharmacy Practice, receives the UH Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award.
  • Matthew Knope, Assistant Professor of Biology, receives the Frances Davis award for Excellence in Teaching.

Faculty 2019 Campus Awards:

  • Julie Adrian, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice
  • Philippe Binder, Professor of Physics
  • Randy Hirokawa, Professor of Communication
  • Marina Karidas, Professor of Sociology
  • Steven Lundblad, Professor of Geology
  • Faith Mishina, Professor of Language
  • Matt Platz, Professor of Chemistry
  • Mike Shintaku, Professor of Plant Pathology
  • Tracy Wiegner, Professor of Marine Science.

Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activity: Tracy Wiegner, Professor of Marine Science.

Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation: Cheryl Gansecki, Lecturer of Geology, and Steven Lundblad, Professor of Geology.

Nationally, kinesiologist Harald Barkhoff receives a prestigious leadership award from the American Kinesiology Association. Prof. Barkhoff is honored for his great contribution to curriculum development in the UH Hilo kinesiology and exercise sciences program and for inspiring dozens of undergraduates to collaborate in sports science research. His papers at conferences in Polynesia have introduced the integration of kinesiology in the context of island cultures and in particular indigenous and Native Hawaiian knowledge and belief systems.

Internationally, UH Hilo biologist Rebecca Ostertag and geologist Jené Michaud were part of a team awarded an international medal for their paper questioning a fundamental assumption in the field of restoration ecology—the researchers suggest that nonnative, noninvasive plant species can be an important part of Hawaiian forest restoration. The Bradshaw Medal is given by the Society for Ecological Restoration in recognition of a scientific paper published in the Society’s major journal, Restoration Ecology.

Research and Collaboration (Selected)

Community partnerships advance research on understanding and stewarding Hawaiʻi’s resources and people. Partner agencies include the Hawaiʻi Cooperative Studies Unit, the Hawaiʻi-Pacific Islands Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit, the Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center, and others. UH Hilo coordinates large numbers of research and programs with partner agencies and organizations to study the impact of climate change, development, and invasive species on native ecosystems; to integrate community knowledge into research; to build future conservation leaders from within local communities; to improve the health of people and communities; and to link students and faculty to research opportunities and partnerships. UH Hilo facilitates UH System partnerships with the U.S. Geological Survey Biological Resources Division and Hawaiʻi Cooperative Fisheries Unit; National Park Service; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S.D.A. Forest Service; Kamehameha Schools; Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources; and many others.

UH Hilo scientists Cheryl Gansecki and Ryan Perroy are prominently featured in the Jan. 23, 2019, airing of PBS’s NOVA, about the 2018 Kīlauea eruption, highlighting their work on chemistry analysis and aerial monitoring of the flow respectively. Gansecki, a geologist, provided real-time chemistry analysis of lava samples that helped determine how the lava would behave and how fast it would move, crucial information for Civil Defense and other responders. A group of undergraduate and graduate students led by Perroy, a geographer, piloted drones day and night capturing thermo and regular imagery of the lava flows, gathering critical information for the government agencies overseeing the eruption response.

Jolene Sutton
Jolene Sutton

Jolene Sutton, an assistant professor of biology who specializes in evolutionary genetics, makes news on several fronts. Sutton leads a team of genetic researchers studying the ʻalalā (Hawaiian crow), one of the world’s most endangered bird species, and the group releases the unprecedented genome assembly for the bird, published in the journal Genes. The team consists of UH Hilo colleagues, and collaborators from the Conservation Genomics Research Group, the Hawaiʻi Endangered Bird Conservation Program, San Diego Zoo Global, and Pacific Biosciences. Assistant Professor Sutton is also working with a team of genetic researchers from Hilo, California, New Zealand, and Australia to collaborate on a genetics study to address the hatching failure of two endangered bird species: the ʻalalā and the kākāpō of New Zealand. (Sutton is also teaching her students biotechnology methods that could one day help combat mosquito vectored diseases.)

Entomologist Jesse Eiben is part of a research team with colleagues from UH Mānoa and University of Nevada to study and name two species of moths native to Maunakea. Another UH Hilo member of the team is Jessica Kirkpatrick, an alumna of the UH Hilo Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science graduate program. The moth study is unique and includes behavioral, larval, and expert genetic analyses, making it an especially comprehensive species description. The scientific names assigned to the moth species were decided after careful deliberation and consultation with Hawaiian cultural advisory group.

John Burns
John Burns

John H. R. Burns, an assistant professor of marine science, develops a research program that enhances coral reef research by converting 2D images and other data from coral surveys into 3D reconstructions of the reef habitats, using a technique called structure-from-motion photogrammetry. Burns and Brianna Craig, a Hollings Scholar with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and undergraduate in the marine science department at UH Hilo, discuss this 3D imaging in a research article published this year in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering.

UH Hilo is awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID) to study the effect of Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD) on animal communities in Hawaiʻi. The project, entitled “RAPID: Cascading effects of rapid and widespread mortality of a foundation tree species on animal communities in Hawaiʻi,” is under the direction of Kristina Paxton, adjunct assistant professor of tropical conservation biology and environmental science, and Patrick Hart, professor of biology, both members of the Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Bioacoustics Lab.

Patrick Hart
Patrick Hart

For the first time in more than 50 years, the sound of the ʻuaʻu or Hawaiian petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis) is heard on Maunakea thanks to research funded by the UH Office of Maunakea Management and done by UH Hilo bioacoustics researchers. Bret Nainoa Mossman, a UH Hilo graduate student who, along with UH Hilo conservation biologist Patrick Hart have been looking and listening for the seabirds and ʻōpeʻapeʻa, or Hawaiian hoary bats, at high elevations on Maunakea.

Researchers Ryan Perroy (Department of Geography) and Travis Mandel (Department of Computer Science and Engineering) develop automation of remote sensing and GIS techniques to find and map invasive species and the spread of Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD). Using high resolution aerial imagery collected via drones and manned helicopters the research team collaborate to apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically detect trees suspected of being infected with the fungal pathogens responsible for ROD. The team expands this approach to include detecting other invasive species of interest, working together with the National Park Service.

In the area of social sciences, Associate Professor of Anthropology Joseph Genz, coordinator of the Pacific Island Studies Certificate program at UH Hilo, participates in a collaborative study with researchers at UH Mānoa showing Micronesian people in Hawaiʻi frequently face bias and discrimination in the workplace. The new study was led by researchers at the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at UH Mānoa.

Goal 3: Foster a vibrant and sustainable environment within which to study, work and live

Students playing ball on the new court.
A new gathering place for students opens in fall 2018: An old basketball court is fully renovated and renamed Puʻuliʻi.



A new gathering place for students opens in fall 2018: An old basketball court is fully renovated and renamed Puʻuliʻi. Repaved and repurposed into a place for students to gather, play ball, and socialize, the court sports an outdoor grill and covered picnic tables with solar charging stations for laptops, tablets, and phones.

In response to student requests for more covered outdoor spaces to sit, eat, talk story, and study, several solar powered recharging stations open in the fall. The stations are complete with seating, USB ports, Wi-Fi access and a unique roof and gutter system to keep students dry during Hilo’s rainy weather. The stations are located near main hubs around campus: the Student Services building, the College of Business and Economics, and near the UH Hilo Bookstore at the main entrance to campus.

The Life Science Renovation Project, started in Dec 2016, includes roofing, HVAC, electrical, finishes and lab renovations to the Life Science Building Complex. The project is completed in May 2019.

Portable buildings #8, #8A, and #9, that house the Department of Music and the Testing Center, undergo repair and renovations. The project, started in Sept. 2017, is almost complete.

The Chilled Water Plant Air Conditioning Project replaces the chiller and pump system for a main AC unit on campus. The unit serves Mookini Library, Edith Kanakaʻole Hall, the College of Business and Economics building, and the Hawaiʻi Community College Business Education and Technology and Computing Center. Repairs are also done to the chilled water loop running through campus. This project began in May of 2018 and had an expected completion date of September 2018, however, delays caused by custom pumps failing at the test phase, the project completion date is extended. AC is restored on October 3, 2018, and commissioning the system is in process with project almost complete.

ʻImiloa Astronomy Center’s air conditioning system is repaired. The project has three phases: the planetarium, the exhibit hall and main office, and the restaurant. This project began in July 2018, the AC is restored in Sept. 2018, and the commissioning process is almost complete (as of June 2019).

College Hall air conditioning units are repaired. This project began in Oct. 2018 and AC is restored over the winter break in Dec. 2018. The final inspection is completed in April 2019 with only punch list work remaining at the end of FY19.

The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy obtains additional funds in FY18 to be used for additional A/V updates to the new building currently under construction. The updates require some redesign of the building so they can be installed as part of the original design as opposed to add-ons. As of June 2019, the project is 90 percent complete. This new building project began in Sept. 2016 with an original targeted completion date of Nov. 2018. With expected occupancy in August 2019, completion date of the entire new building, including landscaping is now Sept. 2019.

Title IX Soccer Field and Softball Field Project is underway. The project, in general, consists of topographic survey and geotechnical investigation of existing site conditions, meeting coordination, civil, structural, electrical, mechanical engineering, architectural and landscape architectural services for design of replacement of existing grass softball outfield and soccer field with new synthetic turf, to include subgrade systems, drainage and subdrain system, a restroom/concession building that includes utilities, and walkways and all required permit processes.

Office of Equal Opportunity

The UH Hilo Office of Equal Opportunity continues to work to advance the Strategic Plan of the UH System, UH Hilo, and Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao. The office increases outreach, in-class education, faculty and staff education, tabling at events, and sponsoring or co-sponsoring events that promote diversity, non-discrimination and a safe campus. Events include policy education for new students, athletes and other classes by invitation. This fiscal year focuses on implementing a response to the UH System Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Misconduct. UH Hilo identifies domestic violence as a focus area and programming centered around DV and other intersections with DV (i.e. vulnerable populations such as students with disabilities, LGBTQ+, etc.).

The office also builds out the Confidential Advocate and Prevention Education (CAPE) program, providing confidential advocacy services and supports to more than 50 students. Prevention education was provided to more than 1,500 participants across the campus community.

The university’s employment data is analyzed, and an annual Affirmative Action Plan, as required by law, is created. Recruiting and hiring guidance is ongoing to ensure a discrimination-free selection process. Workplace accommodations for numerous employees are made 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.

OEO staff reaches out to the local 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.

Formal complaints of sexual misconduct and other forms of discrimination on campus are limited, 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; to date, no allegations filed with these agencies have yielded findings.


Devyn Hanselmann
Devyn Hanselmann

UH Hilo hires a new sustainability coordinator in May 2019 to establish a baseline of current sustainability efforts and help give direction to areas that can be improved. Devyn Hanselmann is at UH Hilo for one year through the nonprofit KUPU, an AmeriCorps VISTA program based in Hawaiʻi that places volunteers with organizations throughout the state and the Pacific region to assist with the development of sustainability, conservation, and environmental education initiatives. Hanselmann’s goals while at UH Hilo are to build on the cafeteria food composting project, train students to educate their peers in sustainability, incorporate sustainability into every facet of new student orientation, perform a campus waste audit, and more.

UH Hilo students use the ancient art of rhetoric to promote modern energy policy. Through abstracts, videos, and infographics, UH Hilo students taking a course on rhetoric apply their skills of persuasion to the modern goal of advocating Hawaiʻi’s transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

The university designates more courses as a “S” (sustainability) course, with the goal of developing a Certificate in Sustainability. Courses are designated as focusing on sustainability in agriculture, anthropology, engineering, geography, Hawaiian studies, and business management.

The new Data Science program has a strong component of investigating the state’s water resources. Through funds from the National Science Foundation, students continue to analyze data as a part of a five-year statewide water sustainability research project.

An Energy Storage and Green Waste to Energy project is built. 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. The project began in August 2017 and is now complete.

UH Hilo continues to be 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.

Full energy metering and monitoring of campus buildings is ongoing. The meters record and report photovoltaic array data for all PV installations on campus. The data helps with the assessment and calculate savings.

Over 65 percent of food served in campus dining rooms continues to be locally produced. On the first Wednesday of every month, 100 percent of the food served in the main Campus Dining Room is locally produced food. The food waste collection program launched in 2017 is now fully established as a part of the sustainable food system on campus.

Goal 4: Cultivate, sustain and reflect a diverse, multicultural university that is rooted in the indigenous history of Hawaiʻi

Large group of students at the campus center plaza, group shot of the freshman class.
Fall 2018 Freshman Class. The Chronicle of Higher Educationʻs 2018 Almanac ranks the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo as the most diverse four-year public university in the United States.



The Chronicle of Higher Educationʻs 2018 Almanac ranks UH Hilo as the most diverse four-year public university in the United States. To draw up the rankings, the almanac uses a diversity index to indicate on a scale of 1 to 100 the probability that any two students at an institution are from different racial or ethnic groups. To calculate the index, the Chronicle analyzes Department of Education data on four-year and two-year institutions with at least 500 students.

UH Hilo continues its mission to have local, mainland, Pacific region and other international students all living and learning together on the campus, giving everyone real experience in the development of global understanding. Students learn to highly value diversity in education, commerce, health and welfare—graduates are already global citizens before graduation, with an understanding that valuing diversity raises the quality of life for everyone. In tandem, a key mission shared by the 10 campuses of the UH System is to embrace responsibilities to the Native Hawaiian people and to Hawaiʻi’s indigenous language and culture. UH Hilo has long been cultivating a diverse, multicultural university that is rooted in the indigenous history of Hawaiʻi.

Indigenous Culture

Collectively the following activities and programs contribute in important ways to the integration of Hawaiian knowledge into the academic and cultural foundations of UH Hilo and beyond, and in meeting the needs of Native Hawaiian students and the local community.

Larry Kimura, renowned Hawaiian language professor and cultural practitioner, makes international news in the spring of 2019 with the story about his collaboration with Maunakea astronomers to name the black hole recently discovered. Pōwehi, meaning embellished dark source of unending creation, is a name sourced from the Kumulipo, the primordial chant describing the creation of the Hawaiian universe. The name awaits official confirmation, but it has already made the world take notice of the deeply meaningful Native Hawaiian connection to the discovery.

Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language advances education important to culture and language revitalization. Hale Kuamoʻo Hawaiian Language Center develops curriculum for Native Hawaiian immersion schools and finds ways to integrate ʻolelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) into education, business, government and other contexts of social life in the public and private sectors of Hawaiʻi and beyond. The Kahuawaiola Indigenous Teacher Education Program supports the Master of Arts in Indigenous Language and Culture Education for Hawaiian teachers. Faculty and staff develop assessment tools for Native Hawaiian schools and continue the pioneering work in creating and sustaining a vibrant Hawaiian immersion school network throughout the state.

A UH Hilo K-12 Hawaiian language laboratory receives one of the highest awards given by the National Indian Education Association (NIEA). The school, run by UH Hilo Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, is recognized in Sept. 2018 for its work in Hawaiian medium-immersion education in Hawaiʻi. Ke Kula ʻO Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu is awarded the William Demmert Cultural Freedom Award at an NIEA conference in Hartford, CT. The award is an NIEA board-nominated award that recognizes an organization for its success and the positive impact it has on native student academic achievement.

A delegation from UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College visited The Evergreen State College (TESU) in Washington state from Feb. 28 to March 3 to continue conversations about modeling an indigenous arts program after Evergreen’s Indigenous Arts Campus and Native Programs curriculum.

Kaʻiu Kimura
Kaʻiu Kimura

A program out of UH Hilo’s astronomy center that provides Hawaiian names to astronomical discoveries is the focus of the opening session of the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) held January 2019 in Seattle, WA. AAS is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America with a stated mission to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe. ʻImiloa Astronomy Center Executive Director Kaʻiu Kimura gives the keynote address at the opening event to an audience of more than 2,000 attendees. She speaks about ʻImiloa and it’s mission, ʻImiloa’s A Hua He Inoa program where Hawaiian speaking students work with Hawaiian educators and Hawaiʻi-based astronomers on naming astronomical discoveries, and the story behind the naming of ʻOumuamua, the first interstellar object to be tracked through the solar system.

Goal 5: Strengthen UH Hilo’s impact on the community, island and state of Hawaiʻi through responsive higher education, community partnerships, and knowledge and technology transfer

Four children gather around an info table with a poster about Conservation Leadership.
Schoolchildren learn about conservation leadership at the Earth Day Fair held at UH Hilo campus, April 26, 2019.

Community Outreach (Selected)

1,500 island schoolchildren attend the 31st Annual Earth Day Fair. The students speak with scientists, conservationists, and representatives from local environmental organizations at dozens of booths lining UH Hilo’s Campus Center Plaza and Library Lanai. The event, held each April, is co-sponsored by UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College. The Earth Day Fair is held in parallel with the 7th annual Conservation Career Day, an event where local scientists and agencies in the field of natural resource management inspire local students to become environmental stewards and to pursue careers in natural resource management. The career event is designed to provide information to middle and high school students, with a specific focus on local employment opportunities.

UH Hilo hosts the Hawaiʻi Island Regional Science Olympiad in February. The event has been hosted by UH Hilo for the past eight years, where Hawaiʻi Island intermediate and high school students compete for slots to the state championship competition. Some of this year’s areas of competition are in rubber-powered monoplanes, assessment of water quality, and hypothetical outbreak of disease. Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai speaks to the students, encouraging them to continue their interests in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)-based fields because the challenges they will face in the future will demand all of these skills.

The university hosts Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day for the 19th year. A day of science and space exploration, the free event is for students in grades 3-12, and parents and teachers of any grade level. The annual event pays tribute to the legacy of Hawaiʻi’s first astronaut and to the crew of the last flight of the Space Shuttle, Challenger.

Jennifer Doudna speaks at podium.
Jennifer Doudna

The inaugural Rose and Raymond Tseng Distinguished Lecture is presented. Jennifer Doudna, professor of molecular and cell biology and chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution, comes to UH Hilo campus in Sept. 2018 and delivers a public lecture on genome editing. Doudna, a graduate of Hilo High School, gained international renown when she and her colleagues at UC Berkeley were the first to develop the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology that enables scientists to edit the DNA of any organism. Doudna’s father, Martin Doudna, was an English professor at UH Hilo, and her mother, Dorothy Doudna, taught history at Hawaiʻi Community College.

Hawaiʻi Small Business Development Center, a partner program of UH Hilo and the U.S. Small Business Administration, receives another five-year accreditation. The Hawaiʻi SBDC program provides professional business consulting, research, and training to business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in order to promote growth, innovation, productivity, and management improvement in the business sector of the state of Hawaiʻi.

The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy interfaces with the local community on many fronts. A sampling:

  • The college presents the 10th Annual Health Fair in Oct. at the Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo—the fair is the college’s largest community outreach event where members of the public are invited to visit educational health care booths and obtain health screenings, including blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index tests.
  • The college emerges as one of the key players as Hawaiʻi continues to fight against rat lungworm disease with new state funding for two full-time rat lungworm researchers.
  • Workshops are given to Hawaiʻi teachers to gain a better understanding of rat lungworm disease.
  • In an ongoing effort to help the local community confront opioid addiction, the college announces it will receive funding for the next year to hold educational events as well as offer simple alternatives to dispose of unused medications.
  • UH Hilo student pharmacists and peers raise money for Kīlauea volcano victims. Student members of a professional pharmacy fraternity reach out to peers via social media to help raise funds for those affected by the eruption.

Seventy-two UH Hilo students and student-athletes read Dr. Seuss books to over 2,500 elementary students at seven East Hawaiʻi schools on March 1, 2019 as a part of the Dr. Seuss Read Across America Day. Vulcan teams from the sports of baseball, softball, volleyball, men’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s soccer visited the following Hawaiʻi Island elementary schools—Hilo Union, Kaumana, Haʻaheo, Waiakea, Keaʻau, Kapiolani and Keaukaha.

Alumni Outreach

The newly established College of Natural and Health Sciences forms an Alumni & ʻOhana group, a collaborative partnership between the college and the UH Office of Alumni Relations, and hosts an event for alumni to tour the college. The “Mauka to Makai” activities include a meet and greet with researchers, behind-the-scenes tour of labs, and a pau hana social hour designed give attendees an exclusive insider’s view of current research in the areas of forest ecology, native birds, reefs, volcanoes and skies over Hawaiʻi Island.

About 10 successful local professionals visit UH Hilo to give inspirational presentations to students as part of the Alumni Professor for the Day program, a collaborative partnership between the College of Business and Economics and the UH Alumni Relations office—for example, see “Social media influencers Malika Dudley and Lauren Nickerson hold workshop at UH Hilo.” Also as part of this partnership, about 80 business and economics students attend an Alumni Thank-a-Thon to sign 700 cards thanking alumni for paving the way for student success at UH Hilo.

The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy Alumni & ʻOhana Association hosts an alumni reunion in Anaheim, CA, as part of a collaborative partnership between the college and and the UH Office of Alumni Relations. Nearly 80 alumni are welcomed to a rooftop celebration overlooking Disneyland.

Other outreach events: A 30-for-30 Alumni Reunion is held. A Career Fair is held where local alumni employers, who want to give back through mentoring, sit with students to break bread and network.

Protecting Cultural Resources

An audit of finances related to the University of Hawaiʻi’s management of Maunakea is presented to the UH Board of Regents Committee on Independent Audit on Dec. 19, 2018, at UH Mānoa. The audit concludes that the “University entities involved with Maunakea have developed processes and procedures to appropriately account for their respective transactions in connection with their management of Maunakea.”

In Aug. 2018, the UH System initiates a lengthy Maunakea Administrative Rules process. The public is invited to provide input on the proposed draft of the administrative rules that will govern public and commercial activities on UH-managed lands on Maunakea—Chapter 20–26, Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules. In Oct. 2018, after the public hearings, the UH Board of Regents unanimously approves the request to revise certain provisions in the current draft of the proposed administrative rules that will govern public and commercial activities on UH-managed lands on Maunakea. The revised rules are subject to additional consultation followed by a request to the board to conduct a second round of public hearings on the revised proposed rules. In April 2019, UH requests a second round of public hearings for Maunakea administrative rules, which starts in June.

An infrastructure project at the Maunakea Visitor Information Station improves visitor safety and allows the Office of Maunakea Management to better protect natural, historic and cultural resources. The project includes the construction of a new paved parking lot with 42 stalls, entry and exit lanes to the parking area, a new greenhouse for propagating native plants and the removal of an existing structure known as the Upper Longhouse. The project begins in Jan. 2019 and is tentatively scheduled to complete in July 2019.

ʻImiloa Astronomy Center

UH Hilo’s ʻImiloa Astronomy Center serves a total of 91,700 patrons in FY19. The center privately funds over half of its operations.

Imiloa signage on lava wall.

A new outreach program, A Hua He Inoa, is launched. The pilot project A Hua He Inoa allows students to give Hawaiian names to astronomical discoveries made by astronomers using Hawaiʻi’s collection of world-class telescopes. ʻŌpio, ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi experts, astronomers and education professionals work together to meld culture and science, giving deeper meaning to the Hawaiʻi-born discoveries. There is no other community in the world where indigenous cultures have a system by which their traditional practices inform and enhance western astronomical work.

ʻImiloa’s navigation and wayfinding outreach holds strong with nearly 60,000 members of the community reached this fiscal year. The center offers a variety of activities that highlight and engage audiences of all ages and backgrounds in the values and methods of Hawaiian navigation, while also emphasizing connections to scientific inquiry.

ʻImiloa undergoes a change in personnel and organization, continuing a process from the previous year. A new education manager, Anya Tagawa, and an education associate, Kaila Olsen, begin their work. Together with existing educational staff, the new team leads all of the activity and curriculum development that ʻImiloa implements through programs offered at the center and through outreach to communities throughout Hawaiʻi and the world.

Community and Environmental Impact Through Grants and Contracts

FY19 total awards is $17,187,152 (136 total awards), compared to $12,883,556 (131 total awards) at same time last year. All of the increase is due to increased research activity by faculty. UH Hilo focuses on high impact research that has meaning for the island and state. Many projects are done in collaboration with county, state, and federal agencies. Research at UH Hilo is used to advance the university’s teaching mission and incorporates both undergraduate and graduate students, with niche graduate programs creating areas of excellence. Much of the research activity at UH Hilo has economic impact in local communities.

The College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management is utilizing grants, awards, and private donations for teaching, research, and community outreach that impacts local agriculture and aquaculture, and helps protect natural resources. This year, faculty at the college are working on a kalo genome project, continuing the Adopt-a-Beehive project done in collaboration with local chef Alan Wong, and working with the Puna community to rescue and adopt “Lava Horses” (and a donkey) during the recent volcanic crisis. Experts at the college are also working on a tilapia marketing plan with local grocery chain KTA Super Stores. At the Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center, researchers are culturing mollusks and advancing fish production, and working on aquaculture development in Pohnpei with the Marine and Environmental Institute of Pohnpei and USGS Fisheries Unit. Entomologists continue to study wēkiu bug habitat and behavior on Maunakea, and do a survey of insects on the summit (83,000).

The College of Arts and Sciences uses grant monies to address the island’s environmental and cultural challenges. Researchers use Unmanned Aerial Systems (drones) to study the 2018 Puna lava flow that destroys hundreds of homes and farms. Aerial visuals of the flow gathered from May through August 2018 are used by county, state, and federal emergency responders to best direct their efforts (see video at right). The flow ends in August, but research continues through collaboration between UH Hilo and the USGS and other academic institutions (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University and UH Mānoa) using the aerial imagery to better understand flow dynamics and rheology of molten lava.

Grants coming into the College of Arts and Sciences also support the Master of Arts in Heritage Management program and the Historic Resources Study for the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. The National Science Foundation (NSF) IOA-LSAMP program works to increase the number of underrepresented minority students graduating with two- and four-year degrees in STEM disciplines; UH Hilo serves as the lead institution in the IOA, which includes 10 other alliance partner institutions. Anthropologists are doing Hawaiian artifact analysis. Grant monies also fund an English professor in a project that culminates in a university-published book, The Paths We Cross: The Lives and Legacies of Koreans on the Big Island (Ka Noio ʻAʻe Ale, UH Hilo Independent Press, 2018), detailing the history of Korean immigrants to Hawaiʻi Island.

The new College of Natural and Health Sciences focuses on projects with public and environmental impact. Studies include investigation into ways to help native birds by removing avian malaria mosquitoes and finding answers to increase egg viability in the ʻalalā (Hawaiian crow); research by faculty of the tropical conservation biology and environmental science graduate program; and coral research using three-dimensional mapping of reef habitat to quantify and track changes in reef ecosystems. Analytical laboratories on campus are used by many outside agencies: e.g. the Scanning Electron Microscope Lab, the GeoArcheology EDXRF Lab, and many others.

The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy is advancing the improvement of healthcare in Hawaiʻi and throughout the Pacific. Rat Lungworm research is funded by the state to investigate how the disease is spread and ways to decrease possible contact. A phytochemical evaluation of tropical plants for bioactive compounds is underway. Researchers based at the college are working with National Institutes of Health Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) grants, e.g. research on neuroblastoma progression.

Grants also fund student internships, fellowships, and scholarships:

  • Students of Hawaiʻi Advanced Research Program (SHARP) is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) and administered through the UH Hilo Department of Anthropology. The program supports all under-represented UH Hilo students (undergraduate and graduate), particularly Native Hawaiians and Pacific islanders, to develop interest and competence in biomedical and behavioral sciences research to help them advance to doctoral studies.
  • The Islands of Opportunity Alliance is a network of higher education institutions from Hawaiʻi and 10 Pacific Island nations with a mission to expand access to careers in STEM fields for underrepresented populations. The alliance is led by the Office of the Chancellor at UH Hilo.
  • Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES) summer conservation internship programs include NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) funds that support research opportunities for undergraduate students. Groups of ten or so undergraduates work in the research programs of UH Hilo with each student associated with a specific research project, where he/she works closely with expert faculty and other researchers.
  • The NSF Ike Wai statewide water project, the NASA Space Grant, and the NOAA Sea Grant support faculty research and fellowships for students.
  • Hauʻoli Mau Loa Conservation Fellowships, a UH graduate assistant fund, supports students with strong academic records as undergraduates, connections with the local conservation community, passion for the ʻāina, interest in protecting natural resources, and commitment to preserve the local environment.

Goal 6: Facilitate organizational excellence through continuous innovation, responsible resource development, and effective communication


Bonnie Irwin
Chancellor-Designate Bonnie Irwin

In February, the university receives long-awaited news of the unanimous approval from the UH Board of Regents in naming UH Hilo’s new chancellor, Bonnie Irwin. Chancellor-Designate Irwin says she is looking forward to working with students, faculty, staff, alumni, island leaders and community members to build on the decades of great work to move UH Hilo and the community forward. She starts her tenure with the university ʻohana on July 1, 2019.

Early in the spring semester, UH Hilo hosts a two-day Islands of Opportunity Alliance conference. UH Hilo administers the alliance, a collaborative group of 10 partner institutions in American Sāmoa, Guam, Hawaiʻi, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The partners all share the common goal of increasing underrepresented professionals in STEM fields and together are working toward more diversity in the quest for and understanding of scientific knowledge.

By summer 2019, a 40-session listening tour is near completion in preparation for UH Hilo’s new strategic plan. The inclusive planning process is creating a strong foundation for a living strategic plan for the campus. Among the members of the UH Hilo ʻohana, listeners of the tour outcomes will include the new UH Hilo chancellor and a Strategic Planning Committee that will be formed once the permanent chancellor is in place.

UH Hilo is selected as one of the 2019 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs by ACPA-College Student Educators International (ACPA) and Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. 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 announces transfer of management of the North Hawaiʻi Education and Research Center. The center, located about 40 miles north of Hilo in the heritage-rich town of Honokaʻa, will be transferred from UH Hilo to Hawaiʻi Community College on July 1, 2019.

University of Hawaiʻi System announces the mission of Nā Pua Noʻeau Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Children is being transformed. As of the fall 2018, the program is no longer run as a statewide organization (that was based at UH Hilo) but rather has its vision and mission integrated into campus programs at UH Hilo, UH Mānoa, UH Maui College, Kauaʻi Community College and UH West Oʻahu.


Budget: FY 2019 Initial Budget Allocation 9/21/18 (PDF). Additional budget documents and further information can be found at the UH Hilo Budget Office website.

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