UH Hilo Strategic Planning

Strategic Doing at UH Hilo

    The Strategic Doing process answers two questions: "Where are we going?" and "How will we get there?" Designed specificallyfor loosely connected networks, it is a strategy discipline that is lean, agile, and quicker than a traditional linear planning process. In a university setting, knowledge creates value. This factor alone demands a different approach to strategy because knowledge moves along networks of relationships and seldom adheres to disciplinary boundaries.

    The main areas of focus for our planning efforts will be on people, certainly our students, and in our sense of place, that strong identity we share with our local community and our island home. Two committees will be formed to move the process forward - one to focus on each of these legacy strengths - Relationships and Importance of Place.

    A call was launched for committee members - collaborators who build relationships, inspire trust, people willing to both listen and openly share, able to think horizontally across disciplinary boundaries, on board with equity of voice, motivated to act rather than just talk, and able to focus on the positives and not be mired in negatives. Self nominations and nominations of faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members, business and research partners were welcomed and 83 were received.

    Building on Our Strengths

    A large part of 2019 was spent listening and learning so we might seize opportunities for improvement and growth. Now in 2020, while these efforts continue, we move into a new phase - that of doing.

    During the listening tour, we examined why stakeholders have associated themselves with UH Hilo. What we learned is that people are drawn to the University because of the small size of UH Hilo with opportunities to build relationships and our “unique place.” Our location creates unique opportunities for teaching, research, and cultural connection, while defining our programs. Ease of relationship building is a strong force that drives high-point moments across campus centering on stories of student growth and success. The Seeds of Opportunity Strategic Planning Summit reaffirmed these findings and deepened our understanding of our legacy strengths. We have a wonderful ‘ohana who care deeply about students and about bettering the community in which we live.

    UH Hilo’s Purpose

    Empowering thinkers who will cultivate opportunity in our communities.

    Graduates hoisting diplomas with smiles

    UH Hilo’s Core Values - inherent to UH Hilo


    Throughout the pre-planning process, every stakeholder group who identified the values of the University, named diversity as the University’s primary value. Diversity lies at the heart of the UH Hilo’s identity and it has since our founding.

    Student Focus

    High-point moments for UH Hilo stakeholders are stories of student growth and success. The satisfaction of seeing student growth was mentioned nearly double any other high point and came up more than any response throughout the entire listening tour.

    Relationship Oriented

    Students and faculty value the ability to work one-on-one in the classroom and get to know each other. Relationships at UH Hilo go well beyond campus, reaching into the community, laboratories of research partners, and local schools.

    UH Hilo’s Aspirational Values





    These values are the qualities that we aspire to adopt and we wish to manage intentionally into the University. These aspirational values are currently neither natural or inherent, which is why we choose to work at making them part of our culture. We want more collaborative efforts, a focus on integrity in all aspects of our work, passion both on campus and for our University, and innovation that leads to more opportunities for our students.

    Focus Areas

    The main areas of focus for our planning efforts will be on people, certainly our students, and in our sense of place, that strong identity we share with our local community and our island home.

    Two committees will be formed to move the process forward - one to focus on each legacy strength. These committees will be small with no more than seven core participants. These groups will be charged to think horizontally across disciplines and departments, build networks both inside and outside the University, link and leverage identified assets, and convert ideas to outcomes with measurable characteristics that result in action plans and initiatives.

    The process will be values driven and informed by UH Hilo stakeholders. Strategic doing will help us bring the areas of strategic intent and strategic objectives to life through stakeholder-initiated projects and initiatives.

    Doing Committee Projects

    The Doing Committees have worked on a number of efforts, in both leadership and collaboratory roles, including but not limited to the following:

    • Ka Leo o ka Uluau - a podcast meant to hoʻokamaʻāina (acquaint) listeners to the island of Hawaiʻi, its moʻolelo (storied accounts) of its special places and Hawaiian cultural practices rooted in sustainability. The podcast is in its second season and has been dowloaded more than 20,000 times.
    • Wailau - a series of themed storytelling events that build connections between members of our campus and the wider community, offering many opportunities for students to participate, from hosting to camera work. During the pandemic, four episodes were presented online. Wailau will stage its first live event in Fall 2022.
    • Gardens at UH Hilo - this effort supposes that students participating in on-campus improvement/garden projects might learn about native plants and the host culture, while connecting to our campus and community in meaningful ways and provide healthy outlets to keep them grounded.
    • Kuleana and Community - a 3-credit entry level course that introduces UH Hilo students to the diverse, multi-layered communities and histories of the island, better preparing them to more fully contribute to community engagement in their upper division courses. This course embeds Ka Leo o ka Uluau content and volunteerism in UH Hilo's campus gardens in the curriculum.