UH Hilo Strategic Planning

Meeting Notes - February 22, 2021

Importance of Place Committee Meeting: Monday, February 22 at 1:30pm

Present: Bruce Torres Fischer, Hualani Loo, Michele Ebersole, Heather Kaluna, Kathleen Baumgardner

Meeting purpose: Project updates and discussion of UH Hilo's strategic planning thematic goals and how they intersect with place

A Course Connecting Students with Place

The idea: There is a working group interested in ensuring a positive student experience that includes a strong grounding in place. We are exploring the development of a class, perhaps a redesign of UNIV 101 Paths to Acad/Lifelong Success (1) , available to students in their first two years at UH Hilo including transfer students. The working group includes Julie Mowrer (from the Relationships Committee), Kerri Inglis (who developed the Kuleana & Community course proposal), Hualani Loo, Michele Ebersole (both from this Importance of Place Committee), and Kathleen.

A survey report is available. It was mostly what was expected, perhaps more positive then expected. 70.6% feel the course will be of value and another 14.7% think it may be of value. With quality training, 43.8% will consider teaching it, 31.3% may consider teaching it. There are concerns, but they can be taken into account.

The Title III grant, Manai-a-Maui: Transforming Institutions With An Indigenous Framework is meant to ground students in place and has been identified as a fit for this collaborative effort. Aunty Gail is administering this grant. Because it is the second year of the five-year grant, we need to move forward. However, there are uncertainties about face-to-face teaching in the fall and the time frame is very tight for a fall rollout with approvals and the ability to secure faculty with schedules already planned.

A summer institute to prepare select faculty to teach the course is a possibility. Kerri is working with Aunty Gail. Is a spring rollout possible to avoid the issues mentioned above? There is a meeting of Kerri, Hualani, and Aunty Gail set for later this week to discuss possibilities. There is also a meeting next week that Michele has been invited to attend - we are uncertain how this fits into the conversation, and we look forward to learning more.

Once the course is rolled out, might it ultimately be offered in both fall and spring? There was a WASC Committee report on diversity that might be helpful.

Action items for the Course:

  • Kathleen will ask Seri about the WASC 2019 Diversity Assessment data.
  • Hualani and Michele will keep us updated on the upcoming meetings.

Ka Leo o ka Uluau Podcast

The idea: Ka Leo o ka Uluau is a 24-episode podcast, with installments released twice monthly in 2021. The purpose of the Ka Leo o ka Uluau podcast is to hoʻokamaʻāina listeners to the island of Hawaiʻi, starting in Hilo and moving clockwise around the island (Puna, Kaʻū, Kona, Kohala, and Hāmākua). Storytellers who are associated with each place share moʻolelo with podcast hosts Drew Kapp and Leilani DeMello. Episodes acquaint listeners with key places, histories, people, traditions, and lessons from each place. The blog associated with the podcast includes StoryMaps, images, etc.

Podcast listenership is strong - so far, 1655 downloads total, with 37 new listens just yesterday. There is evidence of repeat listenership. Inoa Matters is a new quick segment or audiogram where Bruce shares a place or street name on Hawaiʻi island, how to pronounce it, and provides background information about each name. It was created to share on social media, but we are going to create one Inoa Matters post on the blog for each moku - 6 new blog posts. This segment has been getting lots of hits. There are 344 Facebook followers and 277 Instagram followers.

There is no news on use of the podcast at HawCC. We do know that there is a teacher at a charter school using the podcast in the classroom. Cheryl Ramos at UH Hilo is also using it in one of her classes.

Janice with Vibrant Hawaiʻi has responded that she will include the podcast in an upcoming communication. ‘Imiloa has included the podcast for their 15th anniversary.

The next podcast guest is Ryan McCormack, to be released on March 1. That segment has been recorded, along with two of the guests that will be featured for the moku of Kaʻū.

Garden or On-campus Improvement Project/Event

The idea: There are multiple garden efforts across campus. Students participating in an on-campus improvement/garden project or event might learn about native plants, history, and the host culture, while getting their hands in the dirt and finding new ways to spend time in nature. These experiences will help students connect to our campus and the Hilo community in meaningful and authentic ways, and provide healthy outlets to keep them grounded. Garden efforts could also work during this time when distancing is important, as well as after this eases.

Heather and Michele are planning to discuss next steps, discussing whether there should be a master calendar and a key contact for the project. They may start by contacting each garden contact to determine their needs and the information to share about opportunities at each garden site.

Action items for Gardens:

  • Michele and Heather will meet to determine next steps and bring the information back to the committee.

The Bigger Picture

Kathleen presented the draft of the overarching thematic goals:

  • Equity and Student Success.
  • ʻĀina- and Community-Based Education
  • Regional Stewardship (Note: since this meeting, the wording has changed to “Our Commitment to Place”
  • Resource and Culture Support

We chose to discuss Equity and Student Success.

There are policies at UH Hilo and UH System that are inequitable. One question - which are due to rules set by UH System and which do we have control over?

One example: Our graduate programs (except one) do not have GA opportunities. A faculty member with UH Mānoa with a bridge to the UH Hilo campus offered a GA position to a Hilo student. It just couldn’t be worked around at UH Hilo. Is this an issue on our campus?

There should be more collaboration between campuses.

The WASC student survey may be a resource for this discussion.

Policies in general tend to be roadblocks. It takes a long time to do simple things. We seem to have no control over policies and procedures, and sometimes there is a “we’ve always done it this way” attitude. Why are we still using outdated pdf forms rather than electronic forms?

More importantly, we need a change of culture, so that employees don’t see themselves as “processors” but as people who provide solutions.

There was a woman in the cafeteria who embodied this spirit of engagement. Her attitude was contagious - other cashiers began to pick up on the language she used and the feeling of welcome she provided. She made campus feel like “home.”

We should be cultivating this type of small town atmosphere. We are UH Hilo and many people choose our campus because it is smaller, not despite that fact. We should embrace who we are.

Other stories were told about people on other campuses who were exemplary in their efforts to make everyone welcome. One grounds crew member at another campus was routinely mentioned by visitors. Plus, some campuses make this a priority because they involve the entire campus in recruiting and the expectation is there for all to be involved in the visit experience.

When students transfer from Hawaiʻi Community College, they have experienced a campus where there are many friendly people when they knock on doors for help, but at UH Hilo you have to knock on more doors to find those friendly people.

Some bright spots:

One of the keys to moving the needle on equity and student success is hiring the right people. We need more people with a collective mindset rather than individualistic. We should engage more alumni in returning to campus and ramp up engagement with alumni more generally.

Promotion and tenure at small universities can be very ugly. It promotes a culture of silos and individualism, especially in times of scarce resources.

Students remember how people treat them, but are less tuned into politics. They judge by their personal experiences and interactions.

Where are the gems on campus, the “doers” who go above and beyond? Who are the people you want to be around? (There were mentions of specific people who not only bring people together on campus, but also have strong ties in the community.) How do you tell these stories without alienating others by highlighting or giving awards to the same people again and again? The Vulcan V.I.B.E. is collecting many of these stories now. How do we learn from those who bring people together and get things done, while making opportunities for more “doers” to move forward?

Two primary points of this discussion: hiring the right people (a very slow process when trying to move the needle) and shifting the campus culture/mindset (perhaps not as slow, but a complex problem).

At this point in the discussion, the 90-minute meeting time expired. The meeting was adjourned.