UH Hilo Strategic Planning

Meeting Notes - September 24, 2021

Importance of Place Committee Meeting: Friday, September 24 at 1:00pm

Present: Michele Ebersole and Kathleen Baumgardner

Meeting purpose: Project updates and action plan discussion

Kuleana & Community

The idea: An entry level 3-credit course titled “Kuleana & Community” whose foundation lay in local history and service to the community. This course contributes to the stated goal of indigenizing the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo while also increasing retention, recruitment, and alumni support in the future. This entry level course 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.

Schedules and course proposals are due for Spring semester on October 1. There is a plan for six sections - three tied to the living/learning communities (Hawaiian, health & wellness, and science), one for transfer students, and two sections open to any first-year student.The course is being proposed as an experimental Interdisciplinary Studies course that will fall under the direction of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

The curriculum will integrate Ka Leo o ka Uluau and volunteerism in campus gardens, both projects initiated and developed by the Importance of Place Doing Committee. The course includes a visit to the different moku (districts) of Hawaiʻi Island (like the podcast), using the kaʻao framework as a reference for transformation. Additionally, this course endeavors to develop and/or strengthen basic skills in content retention, communication, and critical thinking through familiarizing students with campus-based resources and emphasizing academic and professional expectations. There is also a plan for a collective meeting of all sections, perhaps centered on the harvest at the gardens.

This summer, sixteen faculty members from various disciplines across campus participated in a 3-day professional development workshop and are continuing to participate in monthly training workshops to finalize the master syllabus for the course. Of the initial sixteen who received training, eight faculty from different disciplines will be co-teaching (1.5 credits) or teaching (3 credits) as a buyout or receive an overload through grant funding this academic year. The vision for the course is that eventually at least one faculty member from each department might teach a section. Faculty from departments will be able to bring their own discipline into the conversation when they teach the course; while maintaining a master syllabus.

Goals for the course include having faculty from all disciplines involved, making the huaka‘i or journeys available to new faculty, and for new faculty to audit the course.

A letter was sent to department chairs providing information about Kuleana & Community. Kerri and Michele are meeting regularly and are working with many people across campus to move the project forward.

We discussed the possibility of seeing if University Relations might highlight the faculty teaching the course in the Spring semester as the course rolls out. Michele will reach out to Kerri to see if and when these stories might be shared.

Ka Leo o ka Uluau

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. Bruce was unable to attend the meeting but provided information in advance and thank yous to all the people who have supported the podcast.

There will be a season II of the podcast, focusing primarily on traditional Hawaiian practices such as, loʻi and dryland agriculture, gathering and lei making, ocean voyaging, loko iʻa (Hawaiian aquaculture), and more.

Similar to season I, a number of cultural practitioners will share lectures ranging from 40 minutes to one hour about their practices with a focus on how we can live sustainably on Hawaiʻi. Lei and Drew will be there to ask questions and facilitate discussion as they have for season I. The hope is that this new season will inspire our listeners to apply sustainability, a crucial concept for island communities, in their own lives through a uniquely Hawaiian lens that embraces the history and culture of our home.

The production team, in addition to wrapping up season I, is currently working on logistics and guest invitations for season II and they are working to have at least one episode recorded before the end of the year with a January release in mind. Episodes will be released monthly, with a total of 12 episodes in 2022.

UH Hilo’s Action Plan

We looked at the University’s action plan as it currently stands. Kathleen had pulled out a number of strategies and actions. We decided that given the low meeting attendance, I will narrow the list to no more than 7 choices and build a Google form so that the group can weigh in on what actions are a fit for the committee to either sponsor or collaborate on. Now that the strategic action plan is moving forward, our committee may act as sponsors (leading an initiative) or collaborators, in order to make further impacts for UH Hilo.

These are the strategies/actions that are currently identified, that are eligible for the narrowed list:

Strategy 1: Provide students an equitable experience to ensure student success.

  1. Build an infrastructure that supports the hiring and retention of faculty reflective of our diverse student body. Develop a detailed guide for establishing a one year onboarding process grounded in a sense of place and strategic framework: values, place, vision, priorities; mentoring program for successful onboarding and employee retention)

Strategy 5: Build our level of engagement and communicate those efforts internally and externally to celebrate our role in regional stewardship.

  1. Map community efforts and interests so we might identify potential partnerships. (Engagement, Alignment, Recognition) Year 2: Perform an internal environmental scan to determine programs and people on campus who are engaged in community- and ‘aina-related work. (Recognize and provide incentives for work that connects us to our region.)

Strategy 7: Nurture and strengthen campus relationships and campus culture.

  1. Formalize Hawaiian practices and processes that reflect a campus environment in the spirit of Hawaiʻi. (Native Hawaiian values practiced at all levels of institutional decision making; campus wide color palette & ʻōlelo signage; Hawaiian language at parity with English usage; Unified communication/action strategy for formalizing Hawaiian practices and processes)

Strategy 8: Create a professional development program that targets critical skills needed on campus.

  1. Improve and expand the onboarding process for new employees. (this may move to Strategy 1)
  2. Design faculty and staff development opportunities so that faculty and staff progress at UH Hilo with strong mentorship. (cultivate agreements and mou with Indigenous universities, programs, and organizations to promote cultural and educational exchanges and mutually beneficial teaching, research, and learning opportunities for Native Hawaiian administrators, faculty, staff, and students; Prepare faculty and staff of Hawaiian ancestry to assume leadership at UH and in the community.)

The meeting was adjourned.