A Safe Email Interview With Chancellor Irwin

An update from the chancellor amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Staff Writer Breandain Clarke
**Photo by ** Editor-in-Chief Rosannah Gosser

“I encourage everyone to reach out to friends and family as they can, enjoy getting a little exercise outdoors, and check in with housing, advising, and other staff as they need to. We care about you!”

During this time of drastic transitions, Chancellor Bonnie Irwin took some time out of her busy life and schedule to clarify some of the changes happening to the Hilo campus and students.

“One of my jobs is to encourage people, and I have been impressed with the strength of our community and people's willingness to pitch in and help one another,” Irwin replied to Ke Kalahea via an email interview, after asking her to discuss her thoughts on the future of campus mentality. “I think we will be a stronger community because of this.”

Since the Spring 2020 Commencement ceremony was canceled, along with all other major events on campus, Chancellor Irwin was able to provide further clarity on the $15 graduating students put towards the applications. Irwin stated that the funds will be utilized for the printing of diplomas, diploma covers, and postage for mailing. Irwin also states that “this semester we are bracing for a higher expense in mailing since we don't know whether we'll be able to offer pick-up from campus.”

Chancellor Irwin wants to emphasize the importance of UH Hilo students knowing that they still have many student services available to them. Irwin and all units in the Division of Student Affairs have a plan for maintaining continuity of the campus’ services. She states: “Counseling, Tutoring, Advising, and Financial Aid are all up and running, though they are doing as much as they can online to protect both themselves and the students.” They have also ordered more laptops that Mookini Library will be able to check out to students once they arrive in the following weeks.

The feral cats that live on campus will also continue receiving help from student volunteers and employees. The cats keep new feral cats from invading campus. Most, if not all, feral cats on campus are caught by students in College of Agriculture Forestry and Natural Resource Management and spayed or neutered. These cats then are released back on campus and are a deterrent to new cats coming on. Chancelor Irwin said, “Either way, we're going to have cats on campus whether we feed them or not. This is a system/program that has worked for many years.”

Considering the current global crisis we are in, Chancellor Irwin wanted to tell all UH Hilo students stating, “One of my great frustrations is that I have not been able to communicate face-to-face with students, but I want to reassure everyone that we are working hard to support student success, and we want students to be able to finish the semester. I also know that many are anxious about themselves or their families, so I encourage everyone to reach out to friends and family as they can, enjoy getting a little exercise outdoors, and check in with housing, advising, and other staff as they need to. We care about you!”