UH Hilo FY21 Annual Report

Fiscal Year July 1, 2020—June 30, 2021.

Li Tao teaching online.
Associate Professor of Biology Li Tao teaches a lab class remotely in fall of 2020. Courtesy photo.
Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

In the summer of 2020, faculty and staff at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo are fully mobilized in preparing for the upcoming school year. In August, Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin announces that all hybrid/hyflex modality courses that do not require a face-to-face component be conducted entirely online for the fall semester. Those classes that have a face-to-face required component (for example, clinical and lab courses) will be the only classes held physically on campus.

Focusing on the mission of the university—to challenge students to reach their highest level of academic achievement—the campus implements pandemic safety protocols, cleaning regimens, online trainings and courses, and a high standard of service. Facilities staff erect plexiglass barriers, signage, and sanitizing stations for those required to be on campus. Custodial staff mobilize to clean and disinfect spaces. Information technology staff put in extra hours to upgrade online delivery of classes. Budget staff labor over the numbers, figuring out how to stay in business.

Education and community outreach move forward. Students take their classes and present their research online. Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language doctoral candidates defend their dissertations. ʻImiloa Astronomy Center launches a small camp for keiki, complete with all the physical distancing required. Everyone adapts while faculty continue to deliver a quality education, and students continue to learn about and explore the world, gaining knowledge every step of the way.

Through it all, UH Hilo remains a truly student-centered campus, serving both the students who are here physically and those who are studying from a distance. High standards are maintained while faculty and staff act with empathy to students and to one another. Because of this, and despite all the unexpected challenges brought by covid, the university has an immensely successful year, filled with accomplishments, accolades, milestones, and celebrations.

Here are the highlights of the 2020-2021 fiscal year at UH Hilo.


Aerial of campus with words: Certificate in Indigenous Public Health
The new Certificate in Indigenous Public Health gives students valuable knowledge for the age of covid.
  • A Certificate in Indigenous Public Health program launches in fall of 2020, offering valuable knowledge for the age of covid. The program provides students with an understanding of the practice of public health, indigenous communities’ practices of health and well-being, and conventional and traditional health perspectives.
  • The School of Education is awarded the full seven years of accreditation along with a commendation by the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation. AAQEP promotes and recognizes quality educator preparation that strengthens the education profession’s ability to serve all students, schools, and communities, and to do so equitably. AAQEP is nationally recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
  • The Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program (Specialization: Clinical Mental Health Counseling) receives full re-accreditation by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) for the period June 2021 through June 2029. The MPCAC accredits academic programs in psychology and counseling, which promote training in the scientific practice of professional psychology and counseling at the master’s level.
  • There is record enrollment in a money and banking course as students seek to understand current events surrounding COVID-19. Amir Mohammadian, assistant professor of economics who teaches the course, says he is not surprised that in this volatile and often-confusing era, students want to learn how economic systems work.
  • UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College launch a “2+2” transfer program in sociology.


Above video: Chancellor Irwin delivers 2021 State of the University Address.

Kristen Roney joins UH Hilo as new vice chancellor for academic affairs. Vice Chancellor Roney previously served as associate vice president for academic programs and founding dean of University College and Graduate Studies at California State University—Monterey Bay, a position she held starting in 2014.

Christopher Holland is the new associate vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students. He officially took on the roles in fall 2020. The dean has many years of educational experience working within the K-12 system, as a higher education lobbyist, and a trustee for the State University of New York (SUNY), the nation’s largest board of trustees which represents hundreds of thousands of students. He has also served as the dean of students at three other institutions.

James “Jim” Mike is named new dean at the College of Natural and Health Sciences. Previously, he was at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania where he served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs in 2019, and as acting dean of graduate studies from 2017 to 2019.

Bradley Thiessen is the new director of the Office of Institutional Research. Director Thiessen joins UH Hilo from New College of Florida in Sarasota, where he served as the president’s chief of staff, director of institutional performance assessment, accreditation liaison, and a professor of statistics.


Jay Bamanglag at his desk in his classroom.
Alumnus Jay Bamanglag teaches at Pāhoa High and Intermediate School. Courtesy photo.

Jay Bumanglag (Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics, 2013; Master of Arts in Teaching, 2016) teaches his students at Pāhoa High and Intermediate School to do everything with good intentions and spread aloha.

Melia Takakusagi (Biology, 2019) is one of the first students to enter UH Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine Class of 2024. From Eleʻele, Kauaʻi, she earned a bachelor of science in cell and molecular biology from UH Hilo. She is now one of the first students welcomed to the UH Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine Class of 2024.

Trisha Atwood (BA Marine Science, 2007; MS Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science, 2009) shows megaherbivores in danger of extinction. The findings of the conservation scientist’s study, published in Science Advances, challenge a two-decades-long perception that predators were the most likely group to fall victim to mass extinction.

Janice Ikeda (Communication, 2012) is selected as Omidyar Fellow. The local fellowship program cultivates Hawaiʻi leaders with the skills to collectively affect societal change.

E’Lisa Lee (Astronomy, 2016) is member of team that discovers signs of life on Venus. The alumna studied astronomy at UH Hilo. She helped carry out the observations for the study while working as a telescope operator.

Raisa Ancheta (Business, 2011) heads for UC Irvine med school.

Ala Matsumoto (BS in Pre-Veterinary and Biology Minor, 2016) is now at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Geology alums are on the front line of new eruption at Halemaʻumaʻu crater.

Alexandria Herring (Communication, 2014) works as an associate producer for an entertainment company with 7.47 million YouTube subscribers.

Jake Rodrique (Agriculture, 2014) is now thriving as the academic support specialist at the UH Hilo Agricultural Farm Laboratory in Panaʻewa.

Christina Park (Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, 2007) helps students succeed through adult education programs.

Kainani Kahaunaele (Bachelor of Arts in Hawaiian studies, Master of Arts in Hawaiian Language and Literature) is a teacher and Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winning musician whose primary goal is to teach ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi and all things Hawaiian.

Tracey Niimi (Business, 2011) heads film crew for Hula Bowl Halftime; performance shares Hawaiʻi’s culture with country.

Thomas Fezza (Master of Science in Conservation Biology and Environmental Science, 2014) receives endowment to pursue doctoral degree in entomology.

Danielle Claar (Marine Science, 2012) is now a NOAA postdoc, scientific diver, biologist studying the health of coral reefs.

Campus Life

Best Practices

Social distancing practices include:

  • 6 feet of separation
  • Removing seating
  • Adjusting walking traffic patterns
  • Remote learning or working
  • Limiting large meetings and gatherings
  • Adjusting schedules and shifts

Two people, seperated by 6ft distance
Maintain 6ft physical distance.

Person wearing a mask
Observe face covering requirements posted at buildings.

Person with an elevated temperature
Stay home if you are feeling sick.

Campus life shifts dramatically with restrictions due to COVID-19 put in place starting in March of 2020. The campus is closed to the public, and in July 2020, the UH System distributes interim COVID-19 Guidelines for the fall 2020 semester addressing protocols for face coverings, social distancing, communication, classrooms, labs, offices, and cleaning. Here is the UH Hilo Social Distancing Guidelines and Strategies, posted July 7, 2020. See also: the UH Hilo COVID-19 Information web page. Because of the strict guidelines, there are limited people on-campus and in-person events are suspended as campus life remains virtual.

U.S. News & World Report: UH Hilo retains #1 ranking for most ethnically diverse campus. UH Hilo is again ranked the most ethnically diverse campus in the country among national universities.

Eight additional electric vehicle charging stations are installed on UH Hilo campus. A student-led initiative increased electric car charging stations on the UH Hilo campus from two to 10. Auxiliary Services staff designed and implemented an installation plan that substantially cut costs.


Fall 2020

UH Hilo celebrates 2020 Fall Commencement with a pre-recorded virtual celebration on video and a live drive-through ceremony on campus the morning of Dec. 19. In total, approximately 279 students, including summer graduates, receive their degrees and certificates. The pre-recorded video includes congratulatory messages from UH Hilo dignitaries along with name cards, photos, and messages from graduates. On the 2020 Fall Commencement website, each graduate has a profile page that displays their degree and certificate types, along with their uploaded photos and messages. A drive-through ceremony is held on Saturday morning, Dec. 19, for students who want to receive their diploma cover directly from Chancellor Irwin. The Hilo rains did not dampen the spirits of about 20 graduates who participated.

Spring 2021

2021 Spring Commencement is held virtually with a drive-through celebration for graduates only on Saturday, May 15. Approximately 571 students petitioned for degrees and/or certificates and post-graduate credentials. The pre-recorded videos include remarks from Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin along with photos and messages from graduates. Keynote speaker is Professor Lorna Tsutsumi. Three student speakers deliver pre-recorded remarks.

Community Outreach

Coned-shaped building at ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, with signage.
ʻImiloa Astronomy Center
Child in mask drawing with crayon.
ʻImiloa Astronomy Center adapts its outreach programs to deliver quality activities while practicing covid safety.

ʻImiloa Astronomy Center adapts its outreach programs to deliver quality activities while practicing covid safety. For example, the center celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2020 with a month-long event for island keiki and ʻohana with hands-on learning opportunities and virtual engagement for all; diverse activities and events encourage Hawaiʻi Island families (and others) to explore nature and outdoor spaces. The annual wayfinding event goes virtual in October of 2020 with a live panel of five Hōkūleʻa alumni. In 2021,ʻImiloa co-sponsors the annual Waimea Solar System Walk where children learn about the universe; participants stroll through Waimea town and scan QR codes on decals that link to informational videos about planets.

A dwarf planet is named. ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, in conjunction with its Hawaiian naming program, announces the name for Leleakūhonua, which has the largest orbit of any dwarf planet or trans-neptunian object in the solar system. The name compares the dwarf planet’s orbit to the flight of migratory birds, and evokes a yearning to be near Earth.

UH Hilo biologists, marine scientists harness the power of citizen science. Scientists often do not have the capacity to collect data from all the sites necessary for their research. That’s where citizen science comes in, where people from the community collect data from the field, greatly contributing to the understanding of complex issues.

Biologist Patrick Hart collaborates with Hawaiʻi Public Radio to launch a weekly podcast series on Hawaiʻi native birds.

Karla Hayashi, director of Kilohana Academic Success Center, is a contributing writer to Hawaiʻi State Literacy Plan.

Vulcan athletics teams give back to the local community. Volunteering their time from farm to kitchen, athletes harvest crops at local farms and then cook up a storm for residents in a recovery home. The women’s soccer team cooks up a delicious breakfast at recovery home. Vulcans also harvest corn for a local food bank. This volunteer work is recognized by the NCAA with an Award of Excellence that honors the UH Hilo student-athletes for conducting events that give back to the local community.

COVID Response

Above video: The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy is prepared and ready to go in fall 2020. “We’re excited to welcome back our students for Fall 2020. Take a look at how we’ve prepared to ensure your safety this coming semester,” says Daryl Masanda, director of student services at the college.

The School of Nursing responds to the surge in COVID-19 cases. All available nurses and recent nursing graduates are encouraged to complete an online survey to help identify individuals interested in recruitment for needed healthcare positions.

Jeanette Ayers-Kawakami, nursing professor, prepares her students for important role in the pandemic.

Pharmacy students pitch in

Faculty adapt to online teaching


Grants and Contracts

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.

For FY2021, (July 1, 2020—June 30, 2021), UH Hilo is awarded a total in grants and contracts of $15,965,040 with 115 total awards.

Current Fiscal Year (FY21 )

    • Research: $6,747,220, with a total of 58 awards.
    • Non-Research: $9,217,820, with a total of 57 awards.
    • Overall FY21 Totals: $15,965,040, with a total of 115 awards.

Last Fiscal Year (FY20)

    • Research: $3,863,987, with a total of 52 awards.
    • Non-Research: $10,461,219, with a total of 55 awards.
    • Overall FY21 Totals: $14,325,206, with a total of 107 awards.

Faculty and Staff Awards and Achievements

Kauanoe Kamanā
Kauanoe Kamanā is named one of Hawaiʻi’s 10 Women of the Century by USA Today. Courtesy photo.


  • Kauanoe Kamanā, advocate for Hawaiian language revitalization, is named on the Hawaiʻi Women of the Century list. The director of Ke Kula ʻO Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu, UH Hilo’s internationally renowned preschool-12 Hawaiian-medium laboratory school, is named one of Hawaiʻi’s 10 Women of the Century by USA Today.
  • Rebecca Ostertag, biologist, is elected lifetime fellow of Ecological Society of America. Professor Ostertag also contributes her expertise to a native forest restoration bill. The collaboration between the university, the federal forest service, the county, and an independent lawyer results in the passage of Bill 178, meant to create two additional native forest dedications, including a tax incentive for property owners in Hawaiʻi county.
  • Susan Wackerbarth, English instructor, publishes first novel, inspires students.
  • Ron Gordon, communication professor, authors book with unique approach to group dialogue.
  • Yoshiko Okuyama, professor of Japanese Studies, authors Reframing Disability in Manga on the representation of disability in Japanese graphic novels.
  • Larry Kimura, associate professor of Hawaiian language and Hawaiian studies, creates new Hawaiian word to mark signs of life on Venus: Makaola.
  • Carolyn Ma, dean of pharmacy college, is inducted into the National Academies of Practice as a Class of 2021 distinguished practitioner and fellow.
  • Angela Faʻanunu, tourism professor, develops agritourism app to engage visitors and residents with state’s farming community.
  • John Burns, marine scientist, sets up underwater livestream in waters off Kona.
  • Celia Bardwell-Jones is chosen for UH General Education Curriculum Design team.

Campus and UH System Awards

  • Shugeng Cao, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences: Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activities Award.
  • Norman Aracon, Professor of Horticulture: Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation.
  • Benjamin Zenk, Instructor of Business and Management: Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
  • Lissa Tsutsumi, Assistant Professor of Applied Agricultural Sciences: UH Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.
  • Justina Mattos, Assistant Professor of Drama: UH Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award.
  • Fred Dela Cruz, building maintenance, is honored with prestigious service award for his university service.
  • Annette Sugimoto, Acting Director of Human Resources: Outstanding University Support Employee Award.
  • Malia Callo, Office of Registrar: Professional Staff Award.
  • 2021 Staff That Are Remarkable (STAR) awards, Division of Student Affairs:
    • Maile Boggeln from Campus Center, and Sarah Lips from Upward Bound: Go To Award.
    • Jeri Ilar from the Office of the Registrar, and Sarah Juran from the Advising Center and Office of Admissions: Positivity Award.
    • Kenneth Kubojiri from University Housing, and Chelsy Rapozo from Upward Bound: Work Smarter Award.
    • Maria Vicente, Keola Callo, and Natalie Quinajon from the Office of Admissions, and Nikki Orevillo from Upward Bound: Rising STAR Award.
    • Dolly Roth from Office of the Registrar, and Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center: Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Leadership Award.

The following faculty are awarded tenure and promotion in 2021:

  • Tenure and Promotion
    • Ozan Atalag—Associate Professor, College of Natural and Health Sciences
    • Patricia Hensley—Associate Professor, College of Natural and Health Sciences
    • Matthew Knope—Associate Professor, College of Natural and Health Sciences
    • Camlyn Masuda—Associate Specialist, Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy
    • Jarred Prudencio—Associate Professor, Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy
  • Tenure
    • Margary Martin—Associate Professor, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Promotion
    • Julie Adrian—Professor, Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy
    • Shugeng Cao—Professor, Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy
    • Leng Chee Chang—Professor, Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy
    • Todd Inouye—Associate Professor, College of Business and Economics
    • Christopher Lauer—Professor, College of Arts and Sciences
    • Yiqing Li—Professor, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management
    • Justina Mattos—Associate Professor, College of Arts and Sciences
    • Alexander Nagurney—Associate Professor, College of Arts and Sciences
    • Keisuke Nakao—Professor, College of Business and Economics
    • Yu Cheng Qin—Professor, College of Arts and Sciences


Aerial rendering of fields.
Rendering of upcoming facilities for Title IX soccer field and softball field. Courtesy photo.

A groundbreaking ceremony is held for new soccer field, softball field, and multi-purpose athletic facility. The Title IX soccer field and softball field project in general consists of topographic survey and geotechnical investigation of existing site conditions, and meeting to coordinate 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. This includes subgrade systems, drainage and sub-drain system, a restroom and concession building with utilities and walkways, and all required permit processes. Bids open May 12, 2020; construction contract executed June 10, 2020. Notice to Proceed September 17, 2020; construction ongoing and is approximately 40 percent completed. Tentative completion date February 2022.

Modular buildings at the College of Pharmacy are renovated. Notice to Proceed was August 17, 2020. Construction is ongoing and is approximately 60 percent completed in summer 2021. Tentative completion date January 2022.

Hale Alahonua residential housing air conditioning is improved. Design to include tenant units and lounge areas. Coupled solar photovoltaic, ground and roof mounted, and battery storage to provide day and night operation. A power consumption monitoring and management system for the individual air conditioning units is installed. Commissioning HELCO rebate program optimization and energy consumption analysis. Notice to Proceed date August 19, 2019; contractor is approximately 80 percent completed by summer 2021. Battery storage equipment to arrive mid-September 2021. Tentative completion date November 2021.

Aeronautical Flight Simulators are constructed for Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science program. Two CRX open cockpit simulators, six desktop simulators, maintenance and software upgrades. Contract awarded to Jetlines May 2021; simulator equipment to arrive on campus end by October 2021.

Tennis Courts are repaved. Project includes new tennis court stanchions, chain-link fencing, and gates. Removal, disposal, and remediation of hazardous materials and all incidental works. Notice to Proceed on April 19, 2021; on-site start June 2, 2021. Current construction completion date is October 16, 2021.

Work is about to commence to replace gas water heater at Campus Center. Contractor to start on-site work the week of June 21, 2021; completion date is August 01, 2021.

Projects in the design phase

  • Student Services building gutter replacement.
  • College of Natural Health Sciences and Life Science Biology Building A renovations.
  • Nursing laboratory renovations.

Projects in the consultation phase

The following projects are in the consultation phase. Once this phase is completed, the projects will move into the design phase.

  • Planning, design, and construction of a new East Hawaiʻi Historic Preservation Center. Functions of the center to include:
    • a repository for native Hawaiʻi and other artifacts from throughout the islands;
    • storage space for collections in perpetuity allowing for visual display and possibly interactions between visitors, students, employees and the collections;
    • space for visitors to observe the curation process;
    • exhibits for visitors to observe an interactive work environment;
    • a cultural area where students can intern with the Hawaiʻi State Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources;
    • educational classrooms, office and administrative spaces, conference rooms, and an outdoor lanai where students, employees and visitors can congregate.
  • Renovations to the workshop at the Agricultural Farm Laboratory in Panaʻewa. The scope of work includes the design and construction of a new 1,400-square-foot workshop with plumbing, electrical, work benches, emergency shower, and central vacuum system.
  • Planning, design, and construction to the repair and improvement of the Campus Center. Project includes modernization of the existing kitchen, offices and conference rooms, equipment, roofs, walls, doors, electrical and mechanical systems, and pedestrian pathways.
  • Renovations of Mookini Library. Planning, design, and construction to the repair and improvement of the library building and infrastructure through modernization of student spaces, the Hawaiian collection, the art and media space as a high technology and multi-service location, interior and exterior structures, roofs, and mechanical and electrical systems.
  • Air conditioning improvements to the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management buildings.
  • Hale Kehau residential housing food service equipment replacement to include walk-in refrigerators and freezer with fresh air supply in the service area.
  • Pool renovations at the Student Life Center. The swimming pool will be converted from the current liquid chemical chlorination system to a salt water chlorination generation system.

Office of Equal Opportunity

  • Above video: UH Hilo co-hosts the ʻAuamo Kuleana virtual Domestic Violence Summit in October 2020 in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Campus and community partners are UH Hilo Office of Equal Opportunity, UH Hilo Student Association, UH Hilo Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center, Hawaiʻi Community College, Office of the Chancellor at UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College, the UH System Office of Institutional Equity, UH PAU Violence, Hawaiʻi State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Hawaiʻi County Prosecutor’s Office, Domestic Violence Action Center, and Child and Family Services. 200 attend. A follow-up workshop is held a few months later, “Gender Violence as a Men’s Issue in a Cultural, Historical, and Political Context,” to activate men to action in gender violence prevention and promotion of gender equity.
  • The Office of Equal Opportunity continues efforts to stop, prevent, and remedy discrimination through complaint investigations, education, and outreach in the areas of equal opportunity, affirmative action, the American with Disabilities Act, Title IX, and the Violence Against Woman Act. Office responds to complaints filed both internally and externally with federal and state enforcement agencies. Disability accommodations are filed and processed at an increased rate given the unique needs of employees due to COVID-19. Personnel actions are analyzed in compliance with federal requirements.
  • OEO staff chairs the newly-formed UH Hilo Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and collaborates with committee to host and sponsor multiple events in response to current issues raised by campus members. Six webinars are held featuring scholars, community members, and other experts; 150 attend.
  • Prevention education is conducted, via peer educators and OEO staff, for faculty, staff, students and educators across the state. Education and outreach is conducted for students through University Housing, First Year Experience Program, Graduate Student Orientation, and Vulcans ʻOhana Week, and online workshops.
  • UH Hilo Title IX staff encourages student participation in the UH System 2021 Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Harassment and Gender-Based Violence. UH Hilo obtains response rate of 29.7 percent, the highest rate in the 10-campus UH System. The information gleaned provides a detailed analysis of student experiences on and off campus to assess the effectiveness of past programming and identify current and future approaches to prevention education and service provision.
  • OEO staff contributes to multiple UH System committees, impacting students and employees not just at UH Hilo. Staff participates in review and revision of Executive Policies and Administrative Procedures, including EP 1.204, Interim Executive Policy on Title IX Sexual Harassment and its accompanying administrative procedures, as well as EP 1.202, University Policy on Non-Discrimination and Affirmative Action and its accompanying administrative procedures. A member of the OEO is appointed to serve on the UH Commission on LGBTQ+ Equality while other OEO staff continue to serve on the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.


Above video: Adam Pack, who holds a joint appointment in the departments of psychology and biology and is founder of the UH Hilo Marine Mammal Laboratory, continues his research on humpback whale health with collaborative researchers from Hawaiʻi and Alaska.

M. Renee Bellinger, a post-doctoral affiliate faculty and adjunct assistant professor of bioinformatics and genomics, leads research to generate high-quality genome assembly for taro. It is the first genome assembly of taro that has been associated with genes that underpin resistance to taro leaf blight, information that may enhance taro breeding programs.

Scott Ferguson, kinesiologist, and colleagues publish research suggesting dietary nitrate supplementation may help patients with sickle cell disease. The work shows for the first time that five days of dietary nitrate supplementation via beetroot juice improves exercise tolerance in a mouse model of sickle cell disease.

Lindy Hern, sociologist, examines single-payer healthcare reform. The new book examines the recent rise of “Medicare for All” in America and in American political discourse.

Todd Inouye, professor of business management, publishes a paper on role-play simulation for business students. The paper introduces a novel supply chain role‐play activity, designed with a colleague from Niagara University, for students to improve their ethical awareness and pricing negotiation decisions.

Bruce Mathews, dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management, along with bioeconomy specialist Peter Matlock, crop specialist Nick Krueger, and academic support specialist Jake Rodrique, have started field trials to study sugarcane production for jet fuel.

Strategic Plan


The drafting process is underway for UH Hilo’s new strategic plan. Sections of the plan are drafted by incorporating contributions from both internal and external stakeholders received through university forums, many small group discussions, a summit event, survey responses, and emails. Pre-planning evidence and analysis is made available online in several reports. The strategic planning office, led by Kathleen Baumgardner, completes a draft document shared with the university community in early summer 2021 with a request for more feedback. As this fiscal year concludes, the drafting process continues to be a work in progress.

The strategic planning office launches a multimedia campaign designed to connect people to each other and the island. A storytelling video series called Wailau (translated as the gathering of many waters) features a variety of storytellers sharing themes of self discovery. The 24-episode podcast series, Ka Leo o ka Uluau, features four episodes from each of the six traditional moku or districts of Hawaiʻi Island, published twice monthly beginning January 2021.


Kawailehua Paikai and child with stethoscope.
Overcoming multitude obstacles, Kawailehua Paikai graduates in Spring 2021 with a doctoral degree in nursing. Courtesy photo.

Academic Accomplishments

  • Kawailehua Paikai pushes through innumerable setbacks, starts a family, and shifts her career choice to earn a UH Hilo doctoral degree in nursing. She plans to focus on health care access for Native Hawaiians.
  • 12 UH Hilo pharmacy students accept post-graduate residencies.
  • Men’s golf team wins prestigious academic award. The award, presented by the Golf Coaches Association of America, goes to schools that have a team grade point average of 3.5 or better.
  • Vulcan athletes set new GPA record. All 12 Vulcan teams and more than 200 student-athletes combined for a GPA of 3.191 for the 2019–20 academic year, beating last year’s average and previous best of 3.078.
  • Student-athletes are named to prestigious academic teams.

Research Accomplishments

  • Students conduct artificial intelligence research in the summer of 2020 while adhering to COVID-19 protocols. Under the tutelage of artificial intelligence expert Travis Mandel, assistant professor of computer science, the interdisciplinary “Human-in-the-Loop Research Experience” is supported by the National Science Foundation.
  • Hawaiʻi and Pacific region students present their research at virtual STEM conference. With the challenge of a global pandemic, the student conference originally scheduled to take place in Hilo is transitioned into a virtual, curated event.
  • Marine science student Sofia Ferreira wins best oral presentation at Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference. Her research is on using innovative 3D mapping technology to examine how underwater cultural heritage sites influence coral reef composition and habitat structure.
  • Student research into fault system following Kīlauea’s 2018 eruption yields important findings.
  • Students collect fault data near Kīlauea caldera.
  • Two UH Hilo students win awards at national biomedical research conference. A total of seven UH Hilo students were selected to present their research in biomedical or biobehavioral science as first authors. Kailee Yoshimura and Michelle Biete each won an award for their presentations.
  • Lauren Kapono, graduate student, investigates ʻopihi as indicator of climate change.
  • Three English students present their research at prestigious symposium



Fall 2020 Enrollment

View enrollment data at UH Office of Institutional Research

  • Total enrollment: 3,165
  • Undergraduates: 2,653
  • Graduate: 494
  • Men: 1,118
  • Women: 2.014
  • Hawaiʻi residents: 2,332
  • Hawaiʻi Island residents: 1,634
  • Resident status (tuition): 2,276
  • Non-resident status (tuition): 889
  • Western Undergrad Exchange: 322
  • U.S. citizen: 2,879
  • International: 89
  • Full time: 2,461
  • Asian: 646
  • Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 1,243
  • Hawaiian ancestry: 1,097
  • Caucasian: 685
  • Mixed race: 443
  • First time freshman: 462
  • First generation: 650

Report compiled by Susan Enright, public information specialist, Office of the Chancellor. Comments and corrections are welcome.