UH Hilo Strategic Planning

Question of the Month - Common Threads

  1. March 2020 Question: What is one change we could somewhat easily make that would significantly improve the student experience?
  2. February 2020 Question: How do we move forward with technologies in a way that both increases access and enhances the face-to-face experience for students?
  3. January 2020 Question: Which stakeholder relationships are the most critical to work on over the next year? Why?
  4. December 2019 Question: How do we ensure that the career development and job readiness of our graduates is aligned not only with our programs but with regional economic needs, without narrowing the scope of the education we deliver?
  5. November 2019 Question: How might UH Hilo advance in a leadership role that helps strengthen and support K-12 education?
  6. October 2019 Question: How might we create a learning community that encourages collaboration and shared successes across departments, disciplines, offices, and with the broader community we serve?
  7. September 2019 Question: What does it mean to be a (or the) premier indigenous serving institution?
  8. May 2019 Question: As we move forward, what are measurable results that would indicate we are on track to making UH Hilo stronger? And, are there less quantifiable results we should focus on?
  9. April 2019 Question: What conversations, if begun today, could ripple out in ways that create new possibilities for the future of UH Hilo?
  10. March 2019 Question: What trends do you see emerging over the next five years that will have the greatest influence on UH Hilo's ability to be exceptional?
  11. February 2019 Question: What is the most important priority for UH Hilo to make progress on in the next year?
  12. January 2019 Question: What do you feel are the most promising areas in which to expand collaborations between UH Hilo and the Hilo community?
  13. December 2018 Question: What “breakthrough achievement” would you either love to help make happen or love to see happen at UH Hilo?
  14. November 2018 Question: What do you value most about UH Hilo? What must be preserved as UH Hilo moves into the future?

These are the common threads as of April 20, 2020.

March 2020: What is one change we could somewhat easily make that would significantly improve the student experience?

Faculty and staff responded to this question with a variety of ideas. Responses have been sorted into categories and combined when ideas were similar.


  • The ability to interact with remote speakers in our classrooms. Most classrooms aren't equipped with the ability to communicate with guest speakers brought in via Zoom or other conferencing software. The students can hear and see the speaker but the speaker can't hear or see the students. Given that we are trying to limit flight travel to reduce a carbon footprint (and now health reasons) in addition to the expense of bringing a speaker to campus for a lecture, upgrading the communication capacity in the classrooms would be ideal.
  • A campus pub was mentioned several times, and it was noted in one response that a pub is consistently the subject of student petitions.
  • Covered parking was also mentioned several times, once with the addition of installing solar panels overhead.

Faculty concerns:

  • Support the Faculty Classification proposal circulated on February 20, 2020. Departments need to have more control and flexibility with faculty classifications so that we can better meet the needs of our students, our campus, and our community. (Note: This proposal focuses on designating proportion of time/effort on fundamental activities rather than position labels, resulting in a single faculty classification. Faculty responsibilities would be divided across instruction, research and scholarship, advising, direct services, outreach/extension/community education, and community services, with percentages of time in more than one area and dependent on the specific needs of a unit.)
  • Better faculty representation and participation in prospective and admitted student events so students are able to make connections with their faculty and learn more about the programs offered at UH Hilo earlier in the student search process.

Student support:

  • More activities, allowing students to participate and bond with each other. Students have the opportunity to make life-long friendships while at college. If there are more opportunities to interact with fellow students, more friendships would blossom.
  • There were several comments regarding decision-making and leadership, calling for decisions based on actual student needs and made in the interest of our students with caring.
  • Robust internship and career counseling to help students early in their college journey to find their path and prepare for jobs.
  • Commit institutionally to more predictable course scheduling so that students are able to better manage their programs and progress.

February 2020: How do we move forward with technologies in a way that both increases access and enhances the face-to-face experience for students?

Throughout the listening tour and in the responses to this question, there is clearly a divide regarding distance learning. Historically, our successes have been found in face-to-face learning. Some feel that investing in online teaching will divert resources from this core strength. Others feel that we must meet demand for remote coursework and that online learning can be as engaging and in some cases more so. Responses have been sorted into categories and combined when ideas were similar.

Funding Technologies

Distance Learning programs are great options for students but cost prohibitive to the institution, especially if offering a full set of general education courses online. We should pursue legislative or UH System initiative funding or try to secure a grant to cover these expenses.

Technologies that Fit Our Campus

One important fix would be to make all of our web pages accessible. That would increase access and enhance everyone's experience. We should resist the rush to online. Face-to-face is what we do best. Offering online classes or programs that duplicate UH West Oʻahu’s and national online programs does not improve access, but rather redirects resources from our on-campus classes.

The CyberCANOE (Cyber Enabled Collaboration Analysis Navigation and Observation Environment) is promising for selected, small classes, because it's synchronous, so faculty and students can work together from different locations; it has screen sharing, so students are involved and not just sitting watching a blurry screen as they were with HITS (Hawaiʻi Interactive Television System); it doesn't depend on students having their own reliable internet connection; and it's fast enough to do what it's supposed to.

Technologies and Hiring

We are behind in adopting AR/VR tech and eSports. We are behind in teaching skills that students need to be successful. Our curriculum largely ignores the digital space, and we should hire people who can do that teaching. We should update position descriptions to include tech-related and social media research.

Admissions and Technology

Invest in a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system for the Admissions Office so we might assist prospective students more quickly and efficiently. UH Hilo has been bombarded with a huge influx of EAB applications and is processing 3000+ more applicants than a couple of years ago. With a CRM system, we will also be able to assist students remotely from satellite offices and while on recruitment trips. Unlike other schools, we still print every application and make a physical file for each student and we struggle with ways to secure information online.

January 2020: Which stakeholder relationships are the most critical to work on over the next year? Why?

Stakeholders and why they are important, are listed in order of number of mentions. Comments have been combined and each stakeholder category ranked, with ties indicated:

Current employees, both faculty and staff, were mentioned more than other stakeholders. One respondent specifically mentioned strengthening partnerships between Faculty and Student Affairs to better recruit and retain students at UH Hilo. It was pointed out that we need to rebuild relationships between faculty and staff and Deans and faculty and staff. Morale is low (lowest satisfaction across the system based on survey data) and trust is very low. Communications and transparency should be a priority in helping building trust. Now with a new administration and a campus that is changing from the inside out generationally, we need to look at our people and what they mean to the campus and the community. The things we do for our students, we should be doing for our employees. Regarding faculty specifically, there were mentions of the challenges of bullying and lack of transparency, the uneven distribution of opportunities by gender, a "paternalism" that thwarts faculty who seek to do more, and bias exemplified in interim leadership. It was suggested that new leadership focus on current employees, improving structurally and culturally the conditions of employment. These effort will also benefit other stakeholders, including students and our larger community.

Next, Current students and their families were mentioned as a key area for focus. Improving the student experience will then impact retention. In about the same number of mentions, respondents said that more time and effort should be spent in involving community members, including local business partners, in discussions of our direction.

Relationships with prospective students and families from our community along with the Legislature were next on the list. One respondent felt that UH Hilo might broaden its presence through early college. With a large percent of high school graduates not attending college, and early college as outreach (with courses at high schools), there could be an incredible opportunity. Currently, Kamamehameha graduates identify UH Hilo as a last resort and Pāhoa High School graduates see us as foreign and unfriendly entity. Attracting both set of students is our challenge. Others mentioned that UH Hilo should work closely with the Legislature for ongoing support and funding, moving away from a combative relationship. We put taxpayer money to use, and take monies for some programs that have been unsuccessful, our enrollments drop, and we keep saying everything is going great. Trust is shaken. This relationship must be rebuilt.

All other stakeholders listed appeared in responses about the same number of times, but not as often as those mentioned earlier.

We need to work on our relationship with the UH System, establishing boundaries between the UH System and our university. The relationship has gotten to a place where it is backwards and we should redefine our role. The UH System is under the impression that we work for them and they establish the direction of our work. This should not be the case. The UH System should be in the position of supporting our University and our work. Each university and/or community college in the UH System is a separate entity, with separate accreditation. We are not a UH System University with branch campuses, however, it seems like that is how the UH System views us. If it were not for the campuses, the UH System would cease to exist. That cannot be said in reverse.

We should engage with donors, attracting individual donations for department, programs, and projects. We could build on environmental social science or environment and society, which is on everyone's minds. Each donor might have a particular interest or focus that could impact programs already in place. Several $1000 donations, would go a long way in supporting students so they might attend conferences.

The campus community as a whole was identified as a major stakeholder. There should be more interaction between faculty, staff, and students. Our campus could be improved to reflect the Hawaiian culture and Hawaiʻi by promoting our language, culture, and people. Our buildings should have Hawaiian names, native plants should be grown across campus and labeled with names and the uses of each plant to educate people. Our faculty, staff and leaders should promote "Aloha" by providing events that promote our culture in hula, food, subsistence, and much more. There are many departments on campus, but it doesn't feel that we share the same goals or realize that we are "All" on the same team. If we want our students to respect our island resources and our cultural practices, it should start by educating them and having them interact with our kupuna and community members. We have a lot to offer our students but we need to come together as a "whole" sharing Aloha.

December 2019: How do we ensure that the career development and job readiness of our graduates is aligned not only with our programs but with regional economic needs, without narrowing the scope of the education we deliver?

December's question of the month was answered by staff (45.5%), faculty (27.3%), 18.2% alums, and students (9.1%). Responses have been sorted into categories and combined when ideas were similar.

"Keeping your eye on the ball" and changing along with current issues

Keep abreast of our community and regional needs, and adjust as needed. Graduates should be prepared to tackle current community/society issues, because that's where employment needs will be. Therefore, rather than curriculum or classes keeping with a set game plan year after year, it should be changing, or upgraded based on issues. Every major, or field of study, has a part to play in current issues. For example, reducing our energy footprint is not just for environmental science majors. Marketing needs to inform the public, mathematicians need to perform calculations, language arts can explain it to the world, IT can develop an app or database. Our Academic team all play a part in watching that ball, and preparing our graduates to hit it out of the park.

Connecting with others, learning, and acting

Work with State, County, Federal and local businesses on skill sets and levels they are seeking for top competitive positions. Create a mandatory core curriculum class for graduating seniors that ties the education and skills they have learned to how they might use them to obtain top positions. Basically, show students how to move toward the next steps in life using the skills and knowledge they have developed at UH Hilo.

Liberal arts education serves our society and clearly makes one "marketable." Thinking about UH Hilo programs through an island studies lens is one way to think about our offerings - awareness of the contextual features of where students live will certainly contribute to job readiness. In sociology there is a one credit course, Careers in Sociology, in which community members who have graduated with a sociology degree share their mana'o about gaining a position and advancing in their careers. The feedback received from students was unexpected in that they found the class incredibly effective for planning their lives and futures. Local and regional employers need to be included in these conversations. Courses/workshops like this across campus could be useful in ensuring career development and job readiness.

Using tools effectively

Educate faculty and staff on options and about the Focus 2 Career program designed for major exploration and career planning.

Streamline processes to ensure that we are aligned across campus – academic affairs, student affairs, and administration.

Building student skills

Our students need to leave campus with skills like critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and problem solving. Coursework and out-of-class activities should include the experience of putting these skills into practice.

UH Hilo should train students to be learners, not knowers. After hiring and supervising many UH graduates, the ones that do well in the professional environment are teachable, flexible, and curious. Another practice to consider is papakū makawalu. This is highly valuable to contribute to our regional economic needs - the ability to read your environment. Not only the natural environment, but the social environment as well, and to be able to adapt and respond appropriately.

Create meaningful internship opportunities for UH Hilo's students within the Big Island community, State of Hawaii and beyond, where they can get hands-on experience and work with experts within their fields of interests.

Setting campus priorities

Give faculty more time to focus on teaching quality rather than teaching quantity. Give us teaching credited time to update syllabi and teach important skills to students. Provide more funding and more incentive to teach cutting edge lab courses. For example, give teaching credit for ALL teaching (directed studies, thesis students, writing intensive, research intensive, etc.) and reduce the emphasis on teaching three traditional/outdated lectures per semester. Also, lab courses are intended to provide students with skills that are important in the workforce, yet students earn fewer credits for taking lab courses even though they are often as much or more work than a lecture. The result is less incentive for students to take labs. Reward faculty who do these things.

Aligning efforts at all levels of the educational system

Is the State of Hawaii DOE properly aligning its CTE (Career and Technical Education) programs with UH System's scope of programs and curriculum? Both the UH System and Hawaiʻi DOE should be aligned with the State and County's needs for workforce and workforce development. For example the Career Pathways program for Public and Human Services, should align these students to enter a UH Community College to pursue a certificate, AA or AS. The possibility of these students earning college credit at the community college level would encourage enrollment and student success.

November 2019: How might UH Hilo advance in a leadership role that helps strengthen and support K-12 education?

One third of the respondents to this question were administrative, professional and technical staff members, 23.3% were senior faculty, 14.3% assistant professors, 14.3% instructors, and the remaining respondents were community members, parents of students, and local business partners. Responses have been sorted into categories and combined when ideas were similar.

Outreach and involvement at local schools

  • Provide connections and incentives for faculty to collaborate, share best practices and resources, lecture, assist in, or team teach in K-12 classrooms.
  • Do more volunteer work (athletes in the classroom, faculty, staff in classrooms), talk about careers with youth, get UH Hilo students involved in elementary junior achievement, finance high school junior achievement.
  • Provide more bridge programs with local high schools. Host more family friendly events that focus on children participating in STEAM activities.
  • Consider our pool of potential future students and work to keep them interested and engaged; have focus groups to ask the schools how we can support them.
  • Get involved more than once a year at college recruiting or career day. Work with administrators, educators and students directly, not necessarily through one to the others.
  • Establish routine writing workshops at the poorest performing schools with most at risk students or offer this as a summer workshop. Provide funding for outreach efforts. Currently funds to pay for van rental, costumes, props, supplies, etc., are at the most bare-bones basic level, and either comes from small departmental budgets or out of instructor's pockets. It is a lot of work to organize and conduct outreach , and it is not recognized or rewarded by the University. While the gratitude we receive from the K-12 classes is heartwarming, we face the UH administrative "chopping block" each semester because these outreach classes don't typically attract a high level of enrollment from college students, so we are told that we're not meeting enrollment expectations, which discourages us from offering the class more often.

Outreach success stories shared:

Several Marine Science classes have students working in the schools and with local teachers. The 434 students teach marine oriented lessons in schools. The 435 students work on a project (that changes each time it is taught) to provide training and resources to local teachers (e.g.: developing data-driven science lessons; coastal monitoring / surveying methods).

Arts in K-12 education have been almost entirely eliminated in the U.S., and this leaves children deficient in areas of problem-solving, creative thinking, social development, etc. To try to address that lack, our department makes an effort to have at least one class per year that goes out into the schools, or to after-school programs, to offer workshops and/or performances. These are always gratefully received by K-12 teachers and students.

On-campus opportunities/challenges:

  • Open doors and pathways so that students and families can walk on to campus for many reasons and help them believe that they are welcomed and belong at UH Hilo.
  • UH Hilo Lab School!
  • More faculty open to hosting hands-on workshops for K-12 students and counselors when they visit campus. It's always the same amazing faculty that do this, but wider involvement is needed.
  • UH Hilo faculty could pair with different learning academies at the local high schools and invite students onto campus. While on campus, high school students might be mentored by a UH Hilo student on a project, while using the UH Hilo library, laboratories, and other facilities. This will foster learning on both sides of the table and will also ease the transition from high school to college.
  • Invite schools to come on campus for tours.
  • We cannot advance in any leadership role if we don't have permanent leaders at UH Hilo with the appropriate leadership skills. Not a single interim administrative position has been posted as of November.
  • To encourage more interaction with high school students, perhaps more departments could be connected with programs like Running Start, where high school students are allowed to take a college course and the credit applies to both their high school and college records. Clarifying pathways like this for professors and high school teachers/counselors to make a connection would be a good starting place. Even a "shadowing" program where high school students are allowed to audit a course at the college level might be worthwhile.

Changing/creating programs and policies, extending influence, and building relationships:

  • Several of us (faculty) have helped to develop curricula for the state DOE. Staying involved and helping them to use effective strategies is important.
  • Be more open to Early College and Running Start. The dual credit/early college programs are low hanging fruit; consider dual credit scholarships or contests to encourage high school participation.
  • Lend political support for local classrooms to benefit from air conditioning, have full-time school nurses and counselors, and hire enough teachers to bring class sizes to an appropriate level.
  • It was recently reported that Hawaii teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation. UH Hilo should stand-up and support K-12 education by formulating and executing a plan to effect increases in salaries. UH Hilo is smart enough and driven enough to do so. Higher paid teachers attracts more qualified teachers, boosts K-12 student performance, and increases higher education enrollment.
  • Be a model employer. Can 89-day casual hires and sub-minimum-wage adjunct professors provide the stable home life that children need in order to learn?
  • Focus on creating and maintaining good jobs in the community. K-12 education by itself won't do much for social mobility: The evidence points to job networks or the structure of the local labor and marriage markets, rather than the education system, as likely factors influencing inter-generational economic mobility.
  • Provide staffing and logistical support to faculty and staff who are already working with the K-12 community to support education and recruitment. This support could include high school fairs and work with Junior Achievement.
  • Develop partnerships that focus on professional development – helping to grow our own educators, supporting educational agencies to recruit quality educators, and providing individualized support to new teachers. Through mentoring we could help to increase the effectiveness and retention of teachers, creating academic pathways from K-12 to the University (teaching skills to avoid remediation at the college level), and supporting place-based education and after-school activities (sports/homework help).
  • Develop an education track that prepares STEM students to be science teachers not only in biology, but physics and chemistry. There is a lack of physics preparation on the Island of Hawaiʻi and given energy shortages, this preparation may help prepare the State and Island for future challenges.
  • Recognize and reward outreach efforts at the University.

October 2019: How might we create a learning community that encourages collaboration and shared successes across departments, disciplines, offices, and with the broader community we serve? Please share your ideas.

More than half of respondent to this question of the month were staff members at UH Hilo. Responses have been sorted into categories and combined when ideas were similar.

Investment in Understanding

Provide opportunities so that departments/units/individuals understand the scope of work of other areas at the University. Once there is a basic understanding of the other departments, disciplines, and offices there will be easier pathways for collaboration. An orientation to UH Hilo departments and offices would be helpful, unconstrained by the amount of time employed at the University (long time and recent employees may learn something new). This would improve and foster collaboration and teamwork, and as a result, assist in our ability to serve students and the broader community. Understanding the roles of others on campus should also lead to a more respectful workplace.

More Joint Projects/Classes and Methods to Share Opportunities

Focus on key classes that are jointly taught and grants that are written jointly. This may help meet departmental goals and provide new opportunities for our students. Collaboration across departments can be accomplished with combined classes, where 6 or 9 credit hours are dedicated to a subject that spans disciplines and unlocks different ways of teaching a subject. Ideally these offerings might include half-day outings into the community / natural environment. Shorter class periods cannot get the same immersive experience as these 'bigger, multidisciplinary' courses. (Example: Kapiolani Community College did this before with some success because they designed and targeted cross discipline courses to meet the needs of identified groups of students who had similar course requirements in upcoming semesters.)

And, for the broader community, the 'Applied Learning Experiences' program from years past was centered on community engagement. Internship programs like PIPES still fulfill that role for specific groups of students, but there is nothing campus-wide. Community engagement should be expanded.

There is interest on campus for more opportunities for sharing and finding event information that may relate to multiple disciplines (Examples were given of Japanese Studies students attending a business class guest lecture and Japanese Studies and Cultural Anthropology students and Pharmacy faculty all finding common ground at a series of talks). It was suggested that there might be a semester-long list of all culture-related events or classroom presentations, small and large. If faculty have this information early, it would be easier to work collaboratively and enhance cultural education and community involvement. Currently, there is no organized effort and it is often by chance that opportunities are uncovered.

Communications and Transparency

Encourage supervisors at all levels to share information with their staff. Open communications and respect may also lead to mentorship in positive ways rather than negative micro management. Make ideas known via film media and other means so that the broader community understands the work being done.

Decision Making

Cultivate a culture of evidence-based decision making, so that we can share best practices instead of feel-good anecdotes. Faculty and staff would be more likely to invest of themselves in the University if they understood that solid decisions were being made and there was transparency and strong communications (see above).

September 2019: What does it mean to be a (or the) premier indigenous serving institution?

Respondents to the September 2019 Question of Month identified themselves as the following types of stakeholders: 19.7% UH Hilo staff members, 18.3% UH Hilo undergraduate upperclassmen, 11.3% UH Hilo junior faculty members, 8.5% alumnus/alumnae graduating on or after 2002, 8.5% UH Hilo graduate students, 8.5% senior UH Hilo faculty members, 5.6% community members, 4.2% RCUH employees, 4.2% UH Hilo executive staff, 2.8% alumnus/alumnae graduating before 2002, 2.8% undergraduate freshmen and sophomore students, with the remaining responses from civil service staff, other UH System students, and an individual who identified themselves as a parent of a student who plans to attend UH Hilo.

The aspirational question was meant to explore the term “indigenous serving”. In looking at responses, a few basic categories were established. Please note that due to the length of comments, each appears in only one category, despite that a number of comments could be included in several categories. Please note that there is no specific order of comments and most appear roughly in the order received. Some typographical errors have been corrected and names of individuals mentioned or what appears to be identifying information has been removed. Otherwise, the responses are as received.

Building understanding:

  • That every student who attends UH Hilo gains some understanding and appreciation of Hawaiʻi -- the place, its people, history and culture.
  • An institution that has no cultural boundaries; inclusive of all no matter what their personal, religious, political stance may be. Common ground for all (students, faculty, staff, community)
  • It means that we understand and value the culture our institution was placed into, providing avenues for people to explore that culture in a meaningful and authentic way.
  • Being able to maintain an inclusive environment for all. All humans are indigenous to earth. Rather than encourage us versus them attitudes based on victim-hood, search for commonalities across all human cultures.
  • Where all members of the institution (faculty, staff, and students) have an understanding of the indigenous language/culture/customs and act on them in their teaching, day-to-day interaction and leadership. This does not mean the use of the language, but an understanding and that actions taken are responsible to the host culture. Everything should reflect an understanding and appreciation of the indigenous culture.
  • It means seeking to fully understand the incredible hulihia (see wehewehe.org) going on as a result of the mauna and seeking to embrace the energy, frameworks, heartbeat of what is going on there. We have Puʻuhuluhulu University here on our island...we need to learn from it, work with those who have put that together to extend it, support it, bring the energy of that to our campus. Not only would we be an indigenous serving institution, it would put us on the map in so many ways in how we serve indigenous communities. There's a paradigm shift going on in what it means to be an indigenous serving institution and we need to embrace that.
  • The institution would be geared toward indigenous students. Signs, around the campus, would display indigenous, as well as, English words. Employees on the campus would be aware of cultural differences which impact the university/learning environment so as to help with understanding/knowledge of students they serve. To understand indigenous etiquette and manners. Indigenous students would be encouraged to attend the premier indigenous institution by advertising in the indigenous language. Employees of the institution, would be encouraged to learn the indigenous language. There would be courses taught in the indigenous language, as well as degrees awarded.
  • It means that we recognize the historical injustices done to our hosts, Native Hawaiians, as well as the broader Oceania. Our practices to honor them shouldn't be "business as usual" and that we put things in place that works toward healing, creating equity and are indigenous centered. There is so much wisdom that our indigenous populations can give us that can guide how we do things such as our treatment of people and places.
  • If UH Hilo is going to be an indigenous serving organization, all students/staff/faculty should be required to take Hawaiian language. In addition, instruction should be offered for multiple degrees in Hawaiian (Biology, Math etc.) It would be great if UH was formally recognized as indigenous serving organization in the eyes of our own UH System ORS staff. Those of us applying for certain grants have been clearly told we are not. A true indigenous serving organization would have a clear understanding of what that is from students, faculty, administrative staff, from the maintenance staff to the secretaries and everyone in-between.
  • Cultural sensitivity and high regard for the host culture.
  • Listening to, respecting, and serving the indigenous peoples, with an emphasis on culture and not race when it comes to indigeneity.
  • A premier indigenous serving institution makes continual effort to build awareness of our host culture and the many diverse cultures residing in our community. Provides guidance in understanding for both the host's and other groups' protocols and respectful behaviors. This institution should model and teach the art of embracing diversity. Peace keeping leadership, conflict prevention and resolution are critical skills for all members of the university.
  • I’ll begin by stating the obvious. It means that as an indigenous serving institution we do not engage or propose projects, such as TMT, that desecrate or further desecrate or damage lands or waters that are held sacred by the first peoples of Hawai’i, those indigenous to this land, nor do we participate in projects that negatively impact indigenous communities anywhere on our planet. TMT is proposed for the purpose of research, yet scientists and scholars working in and around indigenous communities, let alone a university that seeks to be a “premier” indigenous serving institution, should be aware of the movement of the last two decades, triggered by Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s landmark book (1999), Decolonizing Methodologies, to engage in indigenous research protocols and methodologies prior to pursuing research. The University of Hawai’i’s record on Maunakea (see kahea.org for an excellent and accurate timeline) is but one demonstration of how academic and scientific institutions and academics and scientists historically have claimed indigenous places and knowledge with little or no reciprocity or acknowledgement, often causing conditions for historical trauma to be experienced by indigenous families. This is not without appreciating that UH Hilo has succeeded on many fronts in shaping itself as an indigenous serving institution. This includes not only Ka Haka ‘Ula o Ke’elikōlani and the immersion schools fortified by it, but also the Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center and the Pacific Islander Student Center, all which deserve significantly more funding to support our indigenous student body. These entities also provide programming that teaches and informs the entire UH Hilo community of indigenous knowledge systems regarding nature, society, politics, philosophy, and the arts. My own journey in Hawai’i and at UH Hilo has been enriched by these trainings and the learning I have received from Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students and faculty and their allies on campus. They have offered me information and perspective to nurture the growth of our entire student body as well as my own research. They have assisted me to recognize the traditional knowledge students bring to my classroom and how I might facilitate students to reach their full potential. Recently, my learning in indigenous knowledge systems has been advanced each time I visit or stay on the Ala Hulu Kupuna (access) road to Maunakea. I venture that if more members of UH Hilo’s community took some time to visit the Mauna and participate in protocol or take a class at Pu’uhuluhulu University, we would soon become pa’a as an indigenous serving institution.
  • It is an opportunity for educators and students to learn from one another about the different aspects of indigenous education such as indigenous values, cultural practices, and different opinions about indigenous education as a whole.

Informing decision making:

  • Assuring cultural legacy, education, and values.
  • On the surface, it means to imply that we are "the best" at serving indigenous college students. Below the surface, the politics and moral direction of the university supports a narrative that is conditional at best. Especially as it relates to Kanaka maoli students.
  • It means indigenous knowledge, resources, needs and wants and most importantly cultural traditions (including the spiritual or religious beliefs) are major factors in the decision making processes of the UH System. As an example, none of the above seems to be a part of the UH's decision to support the TMT project.
  • To be an indigenous serving institution means that an intention needs to be set to serve the greater UH community within the values of the indigenous people and the landscape where the school resides and the areas/programs it oversees. And perhaps to better serve the people, we should reflect on the fact that the space our institution occupies is the original indigenous being. For without it, none of us would be here, occupying the tiny spaces we claim. We should look to the land, ocean, rivers, etc. to inform our future choices as we can easily observe - and view documentation, that our environment has changed over time. Less rainfall, loss of native species, overfishing, coral bleaching, reduced forest areas - which help attract rain, etc. All these "effects" should point to the cause of the distress our island experiences. And though there are many varying ideas and values, it is important to listen to the majority stakeholders. And "stakeholders" are not only those with financial influence. Science is not only defined as build/create. It is also the observation of the structures/patterns/behaviors that already exist. Sometimes the way forward is to observe that which is already there or to regain what was lost - like traditional wayfinding. Look at the movement that has occurred because of Papa Mau, Hokuleʻa, the other canoes in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific! In fact, this rediscovery of knowledge has helped revive many traditions that contribute to current knowledge and restorative practices in culture. And, looking to ancient methods which exist in harmony with nature - loko iʻa rather than against it - industrial fish farming, can be valuable in restoring areas that were once negatively impacted by industry. Finally, we need to remember that we and our children’s children will be the beneficiaries of our choices. Do we want to ensure a life of healthy environmental abundance and food/life security or do we want them to live in fear that their food, water, and oxygen supplies are compromised in the name of development?
  • It means that as an institution if you are going to label yourself as indigenous or a "Hawaiian place of learning" that the institution should uphold that by respecting and being conscious of the indigenous people, land and culture whom you claim as your own as an institution. In other words, do not call the institution a Hawaiian place of learning or anything similar to it if the choices of the institution do not reflect the best interest of the indigenous (Hawaiian) people, land and culture. Also, the institution needs to be advocating and protecting those indigenous peoples from any form of racism and keeping these staff members accountable for upholding the institutions label of "premier indigenous serving" institution.

Engaging stakeholders:

  • Actually listen to the indigenous community, particularly, the members of indigenous people within your own university. An obvious answer is that being a premier indigenous serving institution certainly does not look like UH currently given their total dismissal and steam rolling Native Hawaiians in this TMT issue. I am not even a member of indigenous communities and I am incredibly demoralized and disillusioned with UH for their role and choices they have made through this situation. It has come off like a facade, I can only imagine the very real mental and physical health impacts this has had on your students, faculty and staff that are indigenous. This is a disgrace to the "most diverse university in the country".
  • It means placing indigenous leaders, values, and educational models at the heart of the institution. It means we must become a place where students can thrive and achieve by fully pursuing indigenous educational practices. It means listening to indigenous leaders and communities, especially (but not only) on matters that directly relate to their rights, lands, and values. It means, at the very least, that UH must stop the practice of using a small number of Hawaiian leaders to bless and justify projects and policies that are opposed by the larger Hawaiian Community, so it can falsely claim Hawaiian support. It means stopping the current "consult then ignore" consultation process. It means recognizing that our Indigenous communities are poised to lead higher education into the evolution it desperately needs, and then, empowering them to lead and guide these essential changes.
  • Although UH Hilo does not fit the description, what it means to be a indigenous serving institution it to listen to the indigenous (kanaka maoli) of this ʻāina and make decisions that would benefit them as a whole through education, financial assistance for that education, honor all aspects of their culture without appropriation, behave ethically as scientists and a system of education i.e don’t undermine the “legal process”, gaslight an entire race of people, and make the pursuit of discovery the number one priority of the will of the ingenious people, and, last but not least, do not let financial benefit outweigh humanity.
  • How dare you have the gall to ask this question. How dare we — as an institution — have the audacity to presume this mantle and what it entails. To be a premier indigenized (indigenous serving implies some gross conference of service — and thus authority-to-subject-dynamic— that is clearly not happening and also should not, altogether, be the aim of any university) institution is to stand with the indigenous people — with the Kanaka Maoli — regardless of how that might impact us financially, ambitiously. And yet we still do not revoke our claim to the Mauna, we still support TMT; this is directly contradictory to the aims of indigenization/ indigenous “serving”. I hope most answers you receive highlight this gross discrepancy.
  • Listening to, respecting, and serving the indigenous peoples, which an emphasis on culture and not race when it comes to indigeneity
  • That you actually listen to the indigenous population you purport serving.
  • It means you need to listen to the indigenous people.
  • Being willing to assume a position of equal standing between the academic and indigenous communities and maintaining this equality even in situations the non-indigenous members of the surrounding community misunderstand or find uncomfortable to face.
  • As the premier indigenous institution, it is your duty to provide challenging seminars for all ages within the community in which you want to thrive. In recent times, free lectures (to which seniors flock) have not been given throughout the university. Writing classes for seniors are non-existent. Please remedy this great hole in the provision of services to your community.

Focusing on the student experience:

  • What it means: Leading the world in Hawaiian Language and Indigenous Language revitalization through the work of Ka Haka Ula. Being ready to deal with the issues our students face by providing academic and career services, on-site, drop-off childcare, support to escape domestic violence, and transportation and financial support. What it doesn't (or shouldn't) mean: Well-intentioned, non-Hawaiian faculty "Hawaiianizing" and "Indigenizing" their curriculum by shoehorning "indigenous" concepts into their classes without asking actual Hawaiian and local students whether it's helpful or necessary.
  • If we are to be a premier indigenous serving institution, we have to engage in indigenous knowledge approaches in the majority of our classes, shift how we work together, and change how we interact with the community. There are many resources out there and we should learn from other indigenous serving institutions in other parts of the world. We need to embrace indigenous epistemologies -- potentially not only those of Hawaiʻi, but comparative across the Pacific basin. As a premier indigenous serving institution, we would recognize the importance of place, family and community, focus on building skills in a way that connects students' learning and becoming to their roles and kuleana to their places and families. Our learning would be connected to communities and to the places of our students. We would need to rethink how we are assessing and gauging the success of our students.
  • We are the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, not the University of Hawaiians at Hilo. We have a duty to serve all of our students, wherever they were born and whatever their ethnicity. We have a duty to prepare all students to be critical thinkers and active contributors to the future. We should offer place-based learning and global-based learning in equal amounts. Place-based does not mean Hawaiian language or cultural immersion.
  • Allowing indigenous people to have class on the Mauna to teach of current events, like what Governor Ige is doing with TMT on Maunakea. Not just teaching things that can be used in the visitor industry, ie. hula, music, but corporate everything that indigenous self identify with, i.e. Sacred space like Maunakea.
  • It means to teach truth, not just regurgitate old text written from a white men's patriarchal point of view. It means to explore island sensibilities and all the intersectionalities of the indigenous past and present.
  • From providing resources specific to the support of indigenous students, to providing academic pathways to study our host indigenous language, history, and culture. One of the things I highly value at UH is the opportunity for all students to have access to learning Hawaiian culture. Many students from outside of the islands come in with very minimal knowledge of Hawaiʻi beyond what is portrayed in entertainment. Attending an indigenous-serving institution should allow ALL students to be exposed to authentic cultural experiences, so that they may take that cultural appreciation back home with them. I have friends from California, New York, Massachusetts, Utah, Florida, Saipan, etc. who all enjoyed their time at UH Hilo, learned to appreciate Native Hawaiian culture and language and history, and have educated their friends back at their homes about Native Hawaiian issues. A lot of this was accomplished by the fact that UH offers many Hawaiian classes to count for GenEd requirements, such as Hawaiian 101 and Hawaiian ʻOhana, as well as many opportunities to learn about Hawaiian culture while studying in degree fields such as Marine Science, Geology, Performing Arts, Anthropology, etc. Going to school in Hilo in general will expose students to a wealth of cultural exploration, from cultural protocols in place at the university, to significant events in the community such as the Merrie Monarch Festival.
  • That everything about UH Hilo, including courses, services, infrastructure, programs, etc., reflects the place where we live, the people we serve, and that we honor the wisdom of the people who came before us. This looks like the mural at on the Housing building and it also looks like a change in hiring practices to reflect indigenous values in the process, even if we cannot change some of the boxes we must tick for the EEO process. Indigenous students have told us that they would like professors to learn about their perspectives/ values/ backgrounds so that they can get to know them better as people and serve/teach them in the classroom more effectively. This kind of training may need to be mandatory.
  • It would mean a factual one on the basis of defining cultural bonds of not only the past but the remaining identity of any ethnic group. To rally behind western ideologies and interpretation of democracy is very much helpful in putting aside our differences and work together and yet, it denies us our identity. In this time of vast modernization and technology, society evolves to cling on sudden changes which somehow gives us the notion that we are fit into a system where we have a say in it and I on the other hand didn’t believe so. I say that we should stay close to our cultural ties to understand the path of our people. As a UH student I haven’t come across any actual class that teaches the cultures of the Pacific and laws that preserve the heritage of these island groups. I have felt very out of place to come here and learn about philosophical aspects of how western institutions are made, rather my very own. I would very much love to see indigenous study established here in UH Hilo.
  • Serving at an indigenous serving institution tells me that this institution finds value and importance to reach out to indigenous student populations of all backgrounds to give these students the opportunity to further their education if they so choose. In the same way, we have a diverse representation of professionals in upper administration, staff and faculty who students seek out for support and guidance in their educational experience with us at UH Hilo.
  • An indigenous student should not have to explain the lens that they see life, education, culture or other aspects of their value system. For example, It is not the student's role to explain why they see the world the way they do; such as Hawaiian values of Malama, Kauhale, Lokahi, Kuleana, Ha‘aha‘a, Aloha, Na‘auao, Ulu Pono, ‘Ohana, etc. Many indigenous cultures have values that intersect these same areas. On the other side, to teach or provide services to students should include knowledge, understanding, and compassion (not tolerance) of these values. I have seen good examples and great learning opportunities from the professional aspect and also as a student-alumna from UH Hilo. The energy the student places in helping educators and staff "get it” can be better placed in the process of higher learning, focusing on their major, and moving toward their career goals and life dreams. In addition, students should feel comfortable expressing their indigenous self throughout the campus, and never feel like they are not "indigenous enough" "Hawaiian enough", "Filipino enough", "Micronesian enough" etc. Many students identify with their heritage but feel disconnected from the identity of "being indigenous" This is true of not only Hawaiian students but with others that self identify as indigenous.
  • To advance the educational goals of all students with a special commitment to Native Hawaiians.
  • As it currently stands, we have an indigenous student population. Unfortunately we do not serve them and validate their ways of knowing and being. Our institution needs to critically critique the ways we understand and respect the perspective of our indigenous students so that they begin to succeed, rather than being “pushed-out” or as others call it, “dropping out”.
  • To be a premier indigenous serving institution requires considering the indigenous student body at all levels of decision-making, regarding the provision of academic courses, student services and resources. All administrators, faculty and staff need to view, or at least attempt to view the trajectory of the university through an indigenous lens that incorporates the concept of Makawalu. This means adopting a philosophy and practice of inclusivity, respect, a willingness to learn, and a willingness to admit mistakes. While aiming to provide rigorous and academic opportunities, it is essential to remember that we are an island community, we are on occupied land, and that the future of the university should incorporate best practices for establishing and maintaining pono at all levels. Curricula across all disciplines should incorporate indigenous epistemologies and provide opportunities for place-based learning. Indigenous students should feel welcome in all places at all times within the university campus community. They should know that their voice counts and that they are vital in shaping the future of the university and our islands.
  • What lens is this from? Is it from an indigenous perspective? An outsider’s perspective? If it's from an indigenous perspective my response would be teaching the values and perspectives of our Native Hawaiians, everything from place and space. This also includes our blended cultures for e.g. plantation way.

Identifying and setting priorities and values:

  • A premier indigenous institution goes beyond the use of the indigenous culture for recruitment of new students/teachers and the securing of new "research" grants. A premier indigenous serving institution should prioritize the health and welfare of the indigenous students and their community, the preservation of indigenous spaces. They should be at the forefront of creating career pathways that allows indigenous students to earn a living wage upon graduation and continue to reside in their home community.
  • First of all we have to understand that this is part of our mission! This is supposed to be who we are. To be a foremost indigenous serving institution means that we all use in our teaching, research, and service (to UH Hilo and/or community) a holistic, all inclusive place-based educational approach - in our case that means a Hawaiian worldview. At all times we are aware of where we are - in Hawaiʻi. We use the Hawaiʻi culture, history, ways of knowing, etc., as the foundation of what we do. This is our strengths, this is what makes us unique.
  • I look to Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao as a guide initially. I believe that being an indigenous serving institution means that we listen to and identify the needs of our Native Hawaiian students first and foremost. We integrate traditional ways of knowing into our curriculum and into our communications. We provide opportunities for native and indigenous voices to be heard. We don't take for granted that we are a diverse institution and we seek to leverage that and drive next practices to serve as a model for the world. We ask each department, not just academic affairs, how the work they do contributes to the mission of Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao. We internalize that commitment by making it a primary goal that we work toward in our strategic plan. We make sure Native and Indigenous voices are at the table for every decision that will impact the broader campus community, and we don't select the same people every time. We recognize the land on which our facilities are located. There are many more areas that can be identified, but in sum, we do not privilege western ways of knowing and doing over indigenous ways of knowing and doing, and our indigenous values drive our decision making for the good of our Hawaiʻi Island community.
  • This is not without appreciating that UH Hilo has succeeded on many fronts in shaping itself as an indigenous serving institution. This includes not only Ka Haka ‘Ula o Ke’elikōlani and the immersion schools fortified by it, but also the Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center and the Pacific Islander Student Center, all which deserve significantly more funding to support our indigenous student body. These entities also provide programming that teaches and informs the entire UH Hilo community of indigenous knowledge systems regarding nature, society, politics, philosophy, and the arts.
  • Means to dedicate every action of the institution towards indigenous practices, cultural values, Native Hawaiian students, and the betterment of the lahui.
  • A welcome facility to all people no matter what their ethnic background is.
  • It means we aim to be culturally congruent with the Native Hawaiian culture in our mission, vision, philosophy, strategic planning, etc.
  • Premier means first in position, rank, or importance. Indigenous means ethnic groups who are the pre-colonial original inhabitants. The ethnic group of aboriginal Hawaiians would qualify as the indigenous of Hawaiʻi. Therefore, to be the "premier indigenous serving institution" UH Hilo should be actually serving and prioritizing values that are important to Hawaiians.
  • It should impact and influence every part of the university: how we treat our place, our food, our engagement with community, our sports. We really need to get Hawaiian and Pacific Island leaders together, plus our colleagues from other places in the Pacific to envision this. Then, we should develop a plan going forward to make those changes. We should aim to support the individual as a part of their place and community, not only students, but staff and faculty, too.
  • It means to serve the general public in the capacity in which our kupuna did. Without the bounds and ties of Money, Greed, Power, Control, and Bureaucratic BS. #TMTSHUTDOWN #AOLEPONOUH
  • At the very least, it means NOT fronting a corporation that is willing to put indigenous people in cages, or even simply unwilling to deny that they will put indigenous people in cages. The refusal to dispel such rumors amounts to the deliberate deployment of trauma against a people already suffering from decades of historical trauma, and by not dispelling such rumors, we are hardly "serving" our island's indigenous population.
  • I am concerned that the issues and disadvantages that non indigenous individuals and groups experience in the educational, social, and economic system of our island and State has not and will not be given the same attention as the "indigenous" culture focus now exercised by the university. I believe that such is the case and should be addressed directly and sensitively by the Strategic plan that is being revised and developed. After all, we are all contributors to the economic viability of UH Hilo and for this reason the institution must do a better job in balancing the needs and interests of all.
  • If the indigenous Hawaiian people are not prioritized, as evidenced especially by the lengthy and very significant documented needs of Hawaiʻi's only College for Hawaiian Language and Culture, then how can this university system boast about being a (or the) premier indigenous serving institution?
  • It means our institution (people, programs) is welcoming and attractive to indigenous student populations. While we encourage them to attain their highest level of academic achievement, we are mutually respectful, we have visible reminders (e.g. indigenous language signage), we have clear governance recognizing indigeneity, we have more indigenous people in roles of authority (faculty, administration, other leadership), we embrace the oneness of the natural and the cultural environment (eg. can be embodied through value for sustainability, seventh generation, 'no waste' and for the collective good), so that indigenous students comprise a large minority or a majority of the students.
  • It means seeking to fully understand the incredible hulihia (see wehewehe.org) going on as a result of the mauna and seeking to embrace the energy, frameworks, heartbeat of what is going on there. We have Puʻuhuluhulu University here on our island. We need to learn from it, work with those who have put that together to extend it, support it, bring the energy of it to our campus. Not only would we be an indigenous serving institution, it would put us on the map in so many ways in how we serve indigenous communities. There's a paradigm shift going on in what it means to be an indigenous serving institution and we need to embrace that.
  • What it means to be an indigenous serving institution really means to serve. The very fundamental purpose of being a university is to be a resource to serve the students. To be an indigenous serving university means that you have to serve the indigenous population. You have to serve the indigenous portion of students not only in certain ways that fight the convenience of the university. You must serve in every aspect, that means to put the native land at the forefront of importance to be treated with the utmost respect. You must find importance in the language of the native people. You have to immerse yourself in every aspect of the culture in order to understand and best serve the students. You can't be an indigenous serving institution and be blinded by the dollar. Do not put a price on the culture, land, language, and people to make profits for the college. Stop taking part in the exploitation of the lands on Mauna kea but any piece of land in Hawaiʻi in general. You should not call yourselves an "indigenous serving institution" and then pick and choose what you serve. Do not take on the responsibility if you cannot handle it.
  • To service the indigenous population means to have total transparency and care for their needs in perpetuity. Which means that you cannot say that you are going to be the premier indigenous serving institution for the populace whilst digging up the sacred sites that belongs to this group. Not pono. Hawaiians are not your pawns to move around the kōnane board.
  • You’re the only university in the state so branding the word "premier" for your media campaign regarding yourselves as allies for indigenous anything is an actual farce. You serve the indigenous communities with a carrot and stick modus operandi that reveals your institutional mandate and implicit value structure that has nothing to do with fostering the individual lives, communities, families, employment etc. of your indigenous patrons.
  • At this point, UH Hilo has spent countless hours catering to the Hawaiian Community. You have one instructor who has been saying to people don't pay your mortgage as he preaches Hawaiian sovereignty. I know of three instructors who are racist or as they say over here xenophobic, but your office of discrimination complaints wants to call it freedom of speech! They represent the University of Hawaiʻi. I often wonder if the ACLU should be looking at the standards you maintain. You have people who work for the UH system on Maunakea who act as if they are better than others when they are just like any other man or woman. For the Hawaiian people, treat them with respect and dignity.
  • It means not supporting the further desecration of our ʻāina.
  • The term "indigenous" in Botany to me is misleading, meaning native, local, originating from here. With regard to UH Hilo being a premier "indigenous" serving institution, to me it should mean serving all students that are native, aboriginal, local from here and not that of other places.
  • Premier means first in position, rank, or importance. Indigenous means ethnic groups who are the pre-colonial original inhabitants. The ethnic group of aboriginal Hawaiians would qualify as the indigenous of Hawaiʻi. Therefore, to be the "premier indigenous serving institution" UH Hilo should be actually serving and prioritizing values that are important to Hawaiians. Not helping facilitate and prioritize values of foreign institutions such as the TMT over the breaking hearts and spirits of Hawaiians is an obvious place to start. Defending the cultural and legal rights Hawaiian's have on Maunakea would be more in alignment with being a "premier indigenous serving institution." If the University wants to call itself "the premier indigenous serving institution" it should be a safe place for Hawaiians, a place that diligently represents the truth, facts, cultural sensitivity and respect, healthy dialogue and does indeed "Serve" and prioritize Hawaiian culture, Hawaiian values, and the historical heritage of Hawaiʻi. Educating teachers and staff on Hawaiian culture and accurate history is also a good start. Staff and teachers should be sensitive to the cultural trauma that Hawaiians have faced due to the colonization, occupation, and cultural genocide that has systemically caused Hawaiians to disproportionately rank the worse in health, imprisonment, addiction, abuse, mental illness, infant mortality, and poverty -- in their homeland. A lot of teachers perpetuate an abusive and racist mentality that Hawaiian's should be grateful white people came and made Hawaiians "sophisticated," "intelligent," and "technologically advanced," despite the fact that the Hawaiian Kingdom was the 2nd most literate country in the world, provided free education and hospital care to their citizens, and had electricity in Iolani Palace before the U.S. White House. Subjects could own land for what would be equal to merely $16/acre in the Hawaiian Kingdom. Acknowledge the fact that it has become common knowledge in academia that Hawaiʻi is being unlawfully occupied by the U.S. as demonstrated in three National Teacher Association articles published just last year- here is one of them: http://neatoday.org/2018/10/01/the-u-s-occupation-of-the-hawaiian-kingdom/. The NEA is America's largest labor union with over 3 million members. The HSTA is Hawaii's chapter. Acknowledge and educate students, faculty, and staff to the FACT that there was no treaty of annexation that ceded the territory of the Hawaiian Islands to the United States and that there is an unlawful occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom due to a fraudulent annexation would be a good start, as outlined in this letter by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner to Hawaiʻi Circuit Court Judges last year: https://hawaiiankingdom.org/pdf/Dr_deZayas_Memo_2_25_2018.pdf _Help educate students, faculty and staff on the legal status of Hawaiians and foreigners alike as Protected Persons under the Hague and Geneva Conventions. Then work to mitigate the effects--or at least-- not perpetuate the denationalization of the Hawaiian national identity and cultural genocide. If the University wants to call itself "the premier indigenous serving institution" it should be a safe place for Hawaiians, a place that diligently represents the truth, facts, cultural sensitivity and reverence, and healthy dialogue and does indeed "Serve" and prioritize Hawaiian culture, Hawaiian values, and the historical heritage of Hawaiʻi.
  • An Institution that makes natives’ education a priority.
  • Classifying UH Hilo as a “premier indigenous serving institution” should mean that the views and opinions of the indigenous people are respected and heard. Current issues regarding Maunakea have shown that the UH system has failed to listen to the population that it claims to serve. Racist comments directed at the same indigenous people by UH faculty (without consequence) further contradict the claim that the UH system serves as the “premier indigenous serving institution”. As an alumnus of UH Hilo and as an indigenous person of Hawai’i, I’m very disappointed. It’s my hope that significant changes will be implemented in order to reflect the values of the indigenous people that UH claim to serve and represent.
    • An open response to the question of the month - please see full text

Hiring positions:

  • It means we should have a more diverse faculty. More women, and especially more Indigenous faculty.
  • I think that you need to be part Hawaiian to serve and make decisions within the UH Hilo system.

Other comments:

  • Very Proud! As a native Hawaiian it is great to have the opportunity for higher education right in our backyard! We have so much to offer not only the local community, island or state but the world!
  • UH Hilo is not an indigenous serving institution. The indigenous students at this school have faced institutionalized racism since the establishment of this institution. Calling this an "indigenous serving institution" is an insult to the indigenous students that aren’t being served.
  • I feel pride that our university is such a diverse place that can embrace a multitude of different cultural perspectives while still leading important sciences, such as Astronomy, into the future.
  • Positive Support -- financial, etc. -- (not lip-service). Let's put up $$$ or shut-up. Action speaks louder than words.

May 2019: As we move forward, what are measurable results that would indicate we are on track to making UH Hilo stronger? And, are there less quantifiable results we should focus on?

Measurable results that indicate success or challenge:

  • Student applications (from academically qualified students)
  • UH Hilo enrollments for both undergraduate and graduate students
  • Retention of faculty, administrators, and staff members and increased morale
  • Student retention, with breakout data including students with 3.0+ GPA, and including points in time such as first-year retention
  • Graduation rate and degrees awarded
  • Student satisfaction with teaching quality and the student experience
  • Funding levels
  • Workplace satisfaction and level of faculty and staff morale
  • Student participation in research with faculty mentors
  • Increased and stronger internal communication
  • Number of courses with enrollments of 50 or more and those with 10-20 students that allow greater student-teacher interaction and in-depth assignments with heavy grading loads
  • Hawaiian speaking individuals as recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau
  • Enrollments in UH Hilo Hawaiian language laboratory school program
  • Use of Hale Kuamoʻo resources
  • Increase of faculty, staff, and students passing the Hawaiian language proficiency examination
  • Identifying career areas of need on the Big Island and determining how we fill those needs. Also, an analysis of the number or percentage of graduates ready to meet those needs
  • New programs created and new courses added to the curriculum
  • Programs that anticipate emerging needs and initiate scholarship that prepares us for the future
  • Support for students to attend scientific research conferences
  • Teaching equivalencies (workload credits) for mentoring and directed studies that support the important work of high quality mentoring and teaching
  • The time needed to solidify an effective campus leadership team to impact academics and student services
  • Writing intensive course sections
  • UH Hilo’s ranked listing on FAFSA forms
  • Scores on NCLEX (nursing’s National Council Licensure Examination) and other exit exams
  • Positive articles about UH Hilo in the national press
  • Amount of deferred maintenance
  • Early advising errors resulting in students needing to attend for extra semesters
  • Substitutions made because either classes required for graduation are not offered or the student is unable to complete the course material and is offered an easier alternative rather than being directed to a major that is a better fit
  • Course sections cancelled and how the cancellation impacted the students who had registered
  • Total number of advisors a students see in their academic career to avoid conflicting messages and incorrect information
  • UH Hilo’s overhead research rate
  • Alumni success
  • Field trips per semester and distance traveled per field trip
  • Student attendance at campus events
  • Number of classes with a “Staff” designation at the start of registration
  • Amount of financial aid available for students and how much of that funding is being used

Less quantifiable results that may help indicate success or challenge:

  • Private and government (county, state and federal) accommodations for full use of Hawaiian as official language of the state of Hawaiʻi
  • Making the UH Hilo campus more friendly to students with a stronger college campus experience, perhaps by developing more shopping and entertainment options
  • Scholarship and service that have real-world relevance
  • Leadership at UH Hilo who are passionately and actively involved, and have a genuine presence in the community
  • Resource allocations to meet student needs
  • Development of an on-site, drop-off childcare at no or low cost to the parent that would help drive retention
  • A vibrant and sustainable environment to study work and live through a diverse multicultural lens with support for our underrepresented populations by providing spaces to study, congregate, and rest
  • Community awareness of UH Hilo successes and cutting-edge ability to provide a global experience through student exchange
  • A strong student mentoring system across all disciplines
  • Evidence that we helping our community transition to more sustainable and regenerative agriculture, economics, and society
  • Evidence that we are providing our graduates the ecological and social framework to lead and succeed in climate-changing times
  • Leveraging the unique and extraordinary cultural and environmental resources of Hawaiʻi Island to provide a visionary and essential model of education
  • Demonstrate the courage to let old models expire and be the university to birth something new from the extraordinary entity that is Hawaiʻi Island
  • Solicit testimony from general education class faculty about students across disciplines to examine student engagement and performance. Faculty need mentoring, but students also need to know how to be successful students and understand their responsibilities as students
  • Number of students entering without a means to pay for the cost of attendance

April 2019: What conversations, if begun today, could ripple out in ways that create new possibilities for the future of UH Hilo?

This Appreciative Inquiry destiny-based question introduces the idea of implementing solutions to some of the issues that the people of UH Hilo feel should be addressed. A number of responses were related, therefore some ideas are constructed from multiple answers to this question.

Conversations about identity:

The largest number of respondents focused on UH Hilo’s identity. One respondent shared that UH Hilo is a truly special institution and feels that we need to consider how to honor that specialness . . . and do so boldly. Others stressed that we need a clear vision for the future and that we must determine our unique competencies in order to stand out to students, parents, and donors. If Manoa offers sports (D1) and research (R1), West Oʻahu specializes in online programs, and the community colleges offer a low price and wide access, what do we do better? Where do we fit in the UH System? How does research play into our identity? Should hands-on learning versus lecture-based learning be part of our identity? Once these conversations about identity have taken place, and a plan is developed, what are our goals and how are we going to get there? If we all have a shared vision with clarity regarding who we are and what we seek to accomplish, our campus will enjoy less turnover and we will see productive growth and progress.

Conversations about human resources:

Based on responses, there are a number of barriers in the professional lives of faculty and staff. These issues, which impact faculty and staff retention, as well as the student experience, were mentioned:

  • Limitations on lecturers and casual hire employees, including pay, professional development, conference attendance, participation in interdisciplinary projects, and opportunities for lecturers to transition into instructor positions.
  • Dependence on casual hire employees and the stress that this causes the employee and the lack of continuity it provides the department/program.
  • Limitations on advancement for civil service staff due to the fact that some departments cannot employ Secretary IV's. Sometimes, Secretary III's can't move up within their own department or be reclassified, because the Director or Dean is not at the Chancellor's or Vice Chancellors level.
  • On-the-job training for office assistants and secretaries so they are able to move up in the UH system. Many are willing to learn but are being underutilized just because they are OAs.
  • Loss of positions within departments, offices, and colleges. How are these decisions made? Are these losses isolated to specific areas of UH Hilo?

Conversations about leadership:

What good, competent, appropriate, and supportive leadership should look like at UH Hilo. This seems to be especially important, given a new Chancellor will soon be taking the reins and many open or interim positions will likely be filled.

Conversations about student outcomes:

Many of our students seek a degree because they believe it will lead to a good job. What can we tell UH Hilo students about their prospects? Do we have a good answers to the question, “if I get a degree at UH Hilo, what job will I get?” Many incoming students from our school system are being encouraged to explore STEM-related fields. Might we be able to build on this momentum with an engineering curriculum? And, we should explore what jobs will be most in-demand in Hawaiʻi County and the State of Hawaiʻi in the coming decade. How do the degree and programs offered by UH Hilo align with expected job growth areas? Where should we focus our educational efforts in order to serve both our students and the State?

Conversations about community connections:

How can UH Hilo expand the connection with the greater Big Island community and involve community members in programs on campus? How can Performing Arts play a strategic role in becoming good-will Ambassadors; promoting, to our community at large, the educational opportunities of our university? Might we provide more funding/scholarships for local students to encourage them to come to UH Hilo?

Conversations about policy/procedure barriers:

How might we go about removing or reducing the number of policies and procedures that hinder work from being accomplished? We need more streamlined and simpler processes, but we also need to address areas of misalignment with the UH System. UH Hilo needs to align coursework and general education with Hawaiʻi CC and the other UHCCs in order to ensure an easier path for students to transfer into UH Hilo.

Other conversations, mentioned by only one respondent:

  • Discussions about academic integrity and how to ensure research and writing integrity from faculty and students. A UH Hilo Center for Academic Integrity that works with the UH System’s Office of Research Compliance might be formed.
  • The role of athletics at UH Hilo. How much are athletes taken away from classes before they can no longer be considered student athletes? How self-sustaining are UH Hilo athletic programs and various sports? Could funds be better used to support our educational mission or to fund partial scholarships to help additional students to attend UH Hilo? Could physical travel be limited to reduce airline, hotel, and restaurant expenses that are detrimental to the environment, our University budget, and, in cases, our image?

March 2019: We exist in a dynamic and changing world. What trends do you see emerging over the next five years that will have the greatest influence on UH Hilo's ability to be exceptional?

Responses to this Question of Month were varied, with the most feedback centering on the importance of visionary leadership and of promoting UH Hilo's unique strengths. Many responses were related, therefore some bullet points are constructed from multiple answers to this question.

  • At UH Hilo, we must work to promote our unique strengths and draw on our geographical and cultural location on Hawaiʻi Island, and be more cognizant of the historical contexts in which critical thinking in the sciences and arts is immersed and expressed. We must move forward while holding on to our cultural traditions. Being diverse is not enough; we must teach how to coexist in diversity and learn from diverse cultures.
  • We must have visionary, dynamic, creative, and courageous administrative and political leadership; financial strength and sustainability; and we must address real and local needs to serve and raise up our community. We need to define our identity and uniqueness so that with a shared vision, we can communicate what is special about our campus and programs.
  • UH Hilo must support research. There are far too many institutional hurdles associated with obtaining and managing external funding. If faculty have time, resources, and administrative support to conduct research, we will be in front of trends.
  • We must return to, and excel at, the basics - small classes taught by highly qualified and engaged faculty members, sufficient course sections, a clean and well-maintained campus, and a well-organized, fully-staffed, and well-connected career services center.
  • Climate change is the looming threat of the future. UH Hilo with its rural and unique island location should strategically leverage its position and align its research and academic programs to be an advocate for change and use a more sustainable systems approach from all disciplines. UH Hilo could become a leader in innovative sustainable technology in agriculture, incorporating student-driven innovations. UH Hilo could lead the way in designing the future of food sustainability.
  • The push for STEM in DOE K-12 will increase the need to offer more STEM classes, curriculum, and majors. UH Hilo will need to offer experiential learning opportunities and Engineering classes to be exceptional.
  • Distance education is the way to the future. Students in Hawaiʻi are challenged by the high cost of living and limited job opportunities. Distance Education provides an avenue for these individuals to be employed while furthering their education.
  • Decreasing high school graduation rates and inadequate K-12 preparation are key issues for UH Hilo. We must strategize how we not only recruit and retain students, but how we help them to graduate and become future leaders.

February 2019: What is the most important priority for UH Hilo to make progress on in the next year?

Two primary threads emerged in the responses to February's Question of the Month.

The most common response centered on filling open and interim positions. Respondents called for the need for stabilization of leadership positions because turnover and temporary positions impede UH Hilo's potential for progress. Strong leadership and team building is needed during this transitional period for our campus. With current faculty and staff stretched thin due to open positions, communication across campus has deteriorated. Having leaders who are helping to make connections, facilitating communication and transparency, and infusing a more collaborative spirit on campus could help us to become a healthier, more supportive campus that is able to focus on bringing a strong well-rounded experience to our students.

The second thread focused on enrollment and retention. Respondents want to see a turnaround in the decreasing enrollment trend that UH Hilo has seen since 2012. And, while we work on increasing enrollments, we must not take our focus away from continuing to improve the quality of education that we offer because this is what draws students to us.

Other priorities were mentioned by respondents:

  • Enacting a collective vision and identity
  • Increasing/improving Hawaiian cultural elements for students/staff/faculty so the school can be recognized not only for its academics but the qualities that make it unique. UH Hilo could be the model for those interested in learning how to better impact native communities through language and cultural knowledge integrated with modern technologies and sciences.
  • Addressing UH Hilo’s funding issues
  • Creating/enlarging a marketing department
  • Setting manageable goals for all staff and faculty
  • Creating dual credit courses for Hawaiʻi Island high schools
  • Offering more classes
  • Providing more opportunities for international students
  • Giving voice to the diverse perspectives and experiences that new faculty bring to campus and allowing their youth to help fuel an attitude of change
  • Investing in STEM learning for our youth

January 2019: What do you feel are the most promising areas in which to expand collaborations between UH Hilo and the Hilo community?

Responses to this Question of Month were far reaching, from events to partnerships and collaborations to youth development. The groupings are listed in no particular order.

More family-friendly events that welcome the community

Athletic events, meet ups, and sports camps; environmentally focused festivals; performing arts acts, indigenous knowledge sharing and cultural events; community service projects that bring students and community members together; lectures; and town hall meetings. These events should engage community members, helping them to learn more about UH Hilo and to become comfortable on campus. A campus Homecoming might also draw alumni back to campus, along with community members. We might also bring productions scheduled for UHM to UH Hilo in order to reduce costs.

Youth development opportunities

From encouraging students to attend college to sharing of expertise and creating learning projects to benefit youth. These efforts might be created through partnerships with nonprofit organizations or local schools. One respondent noted, “It is essential that we (faculty, staff, administrators, students, student organizations, athletic teams, etc.) build a better presence in Hawaiʻi's middle and high schools. UH Hilo should be in their lives from the earliest of ages.” We have the opportunity to bridge the gap for local students of all socioeconomic levels through support, engagement, and scholarships to help students reach their potential.

Non-credit course options

Courses, as well as workshops and events, that bring together the University and the community. This may be designed like the former CCECS (College of Continuing Education and Community Service) or another community access program. Perhaps we might introduce a program that allows senior citizens to audit classes (look to the former Hawaiʻi Island Senior Institute and other similar programs) and offer more opportunities for our keiki.

Outreach collaborations

Health outreach between the nursing/pharmacy/PT/OT programs to help improve the physical and mental health of our community members. This could be done through workshops, research projects, and partnerships with social service agencies. Other collaborations might be enacted with Hawaiian language and cultural practitioners in the Hilo community to build a strong network of resource people/places so our students, staff, and faculty might better understand the importance of how geographic landscape and traditional practice plays in the role of identity and community. This might encompass the sciences, geography, geology, social sciences, Hawaiian studies, linguistics, communication, etc.

Connections with employers

Connecting UH Hilo students and academic departments with local employers and organizations to fill their staffing needs and give students hands-on, out-of-classroom, and service learning experiences. One respondent suggested that each major should be involved with their field in the Hilo community. Another suggested bringing more guest speakers from the community into our classrooms and more alumni back to Hilo and our classrooms.

Pathways from HCC to UH Hilo

More streamlined pathways through the community college to UH Hilo with strong collaborations with all stakeholders. Transferable programs should be clearly articulated and shared services should be stronger between the two campuses. And, one respondent suggested there should be more projects co-led by UH and HCC students.

December 2018: What “breakthrough achievement” would you either love to help make happen or love to see happen at UH Hilo?

20.5% of the December question respondents are first year or sophomore students, 19.2% are juniors and seniors, while administrative professional and technical staff and community members each totaled 12.3% of respondents. I have grouped responses loosely, although some answers could easily fit in more than one category. The groupings are listed in no particular order.


  • Indigenizing our programs according to Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao
  • Development of new programs that build on existing resources that faculty identify as growth areas for recruitment and retention
  • Establish a Landscape Architecture curriculum and improve the landscaping of the campus
  • I want to start a Digital Arts and Humanities program at UH Hilo and bring VR into the classroom
  • UH Hilo being awarded a multi-million dollar research grant that involves the collaborative participation of many Departments and Colleges
  • Would love to see research from UH Hilo get national attention...the rat-lung research in Dr. Jarvis' lab seems promising although the teaching load & department & university service responsibilities don't seem to leave much time for research
  • Consistent Collaboration between DSA (Division of Student Affairs) and Academic Affairs
  • A medical school
  • Expansion of the Kinesiology department with more classes and professors
  • Majors that would directly impact community improvements, like engineering majors
  • Expand graduate programs
  • I would like to see the Uh Hilo College of Agriculture/NRM to be recognized in the international scientific community by publishing scholarly articles with breakthrough scientific research
  • The creation of a separate Dept. of Volcanology or greatly increased Volcanology related offerings in the Geology Department. Ironically I am not a Geology major. As a part of my requirements I took GEO170 Intro to Volcanoes and Earthquakes. The class was amazing and I was very surprised to learn that UH Manoa has a Volcanology Department and UH Hilo does not. If any university on the face of this Earth should have such a department, UH Hilo is it. The campus is literally built on the slopes of an active volcano for Pete's sake! Ultimately I believe this would benefit the University as a whole because the department would be an additional draw to attend the university and through research and increased field work/internships would add "cache" to the university "brand"
  • More majors offered
  • More science programs
  • I would love to see the aviation and aeronautics program become a reality
  • More professional programs that include internships like engineering, I.T., building/construction
  • The expansion of the curriculum to include a social work major
  • More course offerings and a satellite campus on the Kona side
  • A big health conference

Infrastructure of varying types:

  • An epic mural on the side of the cloud research towers (looks like a grain silo) next to Auxiliary Services Building. I saw how much of a difference the Mele Murals on Hale Ikena made, and those big ugly towers are the biggest eyesore / canvas on campus
  • I would like to see computer and data security taken seriously. Our current model of free range computers, printers, and network devices directly connected to the internet with nothing standing between every device on campus and every hacker on earth is foolish and naïve. We need a plan to categorize by function and risk. We can then group and protect appropriately. Given where we are and where we should be this would be a breakthrough achievement
  • Construction, opening, and sustained operation of the Puako Marine Lab
  • College town amenities across the street (movie theater, restaurants, shops)
  • Renovations on the dorms. The K building classrooms were a big waste of money. As well as the clocks that don’t work. Put money into small renovations that would make a big impact on each dorm instead of tons of money spent on one dorm, Alahonua
  • Include native vegetation across campus (What is happening with the black tarp/cloth alongside the library? Is the plans for this area?)
  • More sustainability efforts across campus
  • Better maintenance of athletic facilities
  • A soccer field for UH players to practice on
  • A pedestrian footbridge, connecting the back of Hale Olelo to the SLC / Baseball stadium area - crossing the river. Ideally, large enough for security golf carts and with a roof. The bridges at Liliokulani Gardens are a beautiful design example
  • A new gym
  • Proper, dedicated facilities for our academic department
  • A bigger parking lot. Not an educational achievement, but a need

Leadership and planning:

  • See strategic planning move forward and the campus community come to life
  • New leadership
  • A leadership level commitment to establishing the land, language, and educational practices of Hawaiʻi as the foundation of our university. (Instead of following California and other state models of success, let's commit to leading the way, defined by what is true and special about Hawaiʻi.)
  • Build a culture of service
  • Be a powerful voice for indigenous institutions across Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.
  • Discontinue being the sublease holders (aka "caretakers") of Mauna a Wākea. Some things are sacred and should be left to the native people to decide how/if it should be used as a resource

Student experience:

  • Higher rate of students who graduate on-time
  • I would love to see UH Hilo truly focus upon becoming a "student ready" campus. Along the lines of expecting students to be prepared for the rigor and expectations of college, we too should hold a similar expectation of our campus to be ready for them. Too much of academic offerings are often shaped to benefit the lifestyle and wants of faculty more so than it does for students. No offense to faculty who actually care. Too many others are entitled complainers whose dedication to students is conditional at best. Some of you truly need not be here. I am committed to creating the next UH Hilo
  • Another club day sort of event, please!
  • Promoting the faculty's academic expertise through teaching, research and service. Currently administration focuses only on enrollment management. The quality of courses is going down as focus is set more on vocational training. The administration ignores each faculty's academic interest, concentration and training in his or her terminal degree; the goal seems to have the faculty to be the suppliers of teaching lower division basic courses to save lecturer's budget. Faculty's knowledge and skills are not used; and as a result, students cannot learn from what the faculty are really good at. Students want to see something new, innovative, unique always. Encounter with new knowledge and surprise and shock caused by the encounter are the driving force to move the local community forward. Understanding local features and facilitating accessibility to college education is one thing but it is more important to show them how such local features could be improved knowing issues and methods behind it
  • Fully functioning career services for students, faculty and the community
  • More course offerings
  • Additional services for mental health to support all students
  • More nationally recognized clubs/organizations
  • Sororities/fraternities to add to student life
  • Providing transportation to students to attend home games. Especially for those who live on campus and don't have vehicles
  • Expanded library hours
  • Soft serve ice cream in the dining halls
  • A UH Hilo football program
  • More events happening on campus. Maybe a dance or fun events to get students more involved

Admissions, financial aid and enrollment growth:

  • Automatic admission for Hawaiʻi DOE students
  • Adopt the Common App to enhance our current recruitment efforts and increase enrollment
  • Increased enrollment at UH Hilo
  • Bring in more students from other islands and make more opportunities for first generation college students to attend college
  • I would love to see UH Hilo surpass all other universities in the System with growth in enrollment.
  • Higher retention of both students and faculty
  • See Hawaiʻi attract and keep the brightest students
  • I would love to see UH Hilo become the first completely tuition-free University
  • More money to help students with lower tuition
  • Lower cost of programs for the local community


  • Make more connections with people from all around the world
  • UH Hilo must be more visible in the community, i.e., show up at community activities, fundraisers. We ask the community to support us, but I don't believe we do enough to support our community
  • More collaborative efforts
  • More student participation in the student association and events
  • More community events with University of Hawaiʻi partners
  • More student-to-community networking to help students find opportunities for volunteering and employment
  • I would love to see more students involved in events, on and off campus
  • Continuing to encourage more diverse and cultural groups
  • More compost/recycling at events to reach zero waste

November 2018: What do you value most about UH Hilo? What must be preserved as UH Hilo moves into the future?

Common threads, in order of occurrence in responses:

Small class sizes allowing for strong connections between faculty and students

36.8% of respondents to this Question of the Month were undergraduate junior or senior students. These and other respondents reported that they value UH Hilo's small class sizes because this allows them to build relationships and have one-on-one conversations with faculty as well as more hands-on learning opportunities. There is an appreciation of "faculty willing to help students make their dreams a reality." Respondents linked small class sizes with a commitment to high-quality education and a higher level of instruction that features “an interactive and informed teaching/learning environment.”

Sense of Community / Aloha

A theme of caring and friendliness also emerged. There were references to the UH Hilo ‘ohana, an “everyone is family” culture, and a sense that “we are in it together” on campus. Respondents value relationships and they feel that the campus community shows genuine concern for the wellbeing of others. This sense of community was noted in the classroom as “quality learning with Aloha that helps us to cultivate humane persons, citizens, and leaders, well-rounded and authentic persons.” A sense of community was also noted outside the classroom in student organizations and through service learning projects. Aloha Spirit that flows from the community to the campus through relationships, partnerships and collaborative efforts was mentioned, as well as the importance of sense of place, both locally in the community and our place within the broader UH System.

Excellent education available for an affordable price

Respondents noted that they were pleased to find accredited, high-quality and well-balanced educational programs taught by qualified faculty members at affordable prices. This teaching-focused education is accessible due to cost. In addition, it was noted that UH Hilo plays a central role in educating future community members, training our local workforce, and helping to create leaders. Beyond Hilo, some respondents mentioned the University's impact on the Pacific Islands and how the institution draws students from around the world.

Hawaiian Culture

The Hawaiian culture present at UH Hilo is cherished and provides opportunities for culturally relevant learning. We have a unique opportunity to conduct scientific research with a focus on the culture of the Island of Hawaiʻi and the ability to empower minority individuals including Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Several respondents mentioned that the University "creates ways for indigenous knowledge to be at the forefront of learning at UH Hilo."


Diversity of UH Hilo students and staff was mentioned across all stakeholders, as well as the diversity of points of view.