UH Hilo Strategic Planning

Meeting Notes - January 25, 2021

Importance of Place Committee Meeting: Monday, January 25 at 1:30pm

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

Meeting purpose: A look at our project progress and challenges and the bigger picture

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 and Michele Ebersole (both from this Importance of Place Committee).

The group is sending out a survey in order to gauge interest, support, and to make connections with others on campus who may be working on similar efforts. Based on an earlier discussion with the working group, Kathleen compiled a Google form and it has been under review. There is some concern that we might be overwhelmed by survey responses, however, we need the input to move forward in an informed way and with other partners. The plan is for the survey to be sent out at the end of the week on Friday.

Action items for the Course:

  • Kathleen will send out the survey across campus through uhh-ohana-l@lists.hawaii.edu

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.

The third episode of Ka Leo o ka Uluau, featuring guest Lokelani Brandt, will be released February 1. The first episode: Hoʻolauna (Introduction) set the stage for the podcast and was released on January 1. The second episode featuring the podcast’s first guest Mānaiakalani Kalua was released January 15.

We’ve had much interest in the podcast. Podcast producer Bruce Torres Fischer has a meeting with Hawai‘i Public Radio’s The Conversation. Bruce and Kathleen had a meeting earlier this very day with Michael and Jake at University Radio Hilo (URH) and they plan to air podcast episodes four times a week - Mondays and Fridays at 8:00am and 4:00pm. The podcast has seen just over 600 listens, as of today.

We discussed ways to broaden the podcast audience, especially in classrooms on- and off-campus. Michele mentioned the resource list managed by the Hawaii Department of Education Office of Hawaiian Education. We also wondered if Joseph at Mookini Library might promote the podcast in some way. Could Cindy Yamaguchi be a resource given our current online focus at UH Hilo? Ka Haka ‘Ula would want full use of Hawaiian language, but the podcast may be a great fit for classrooms at HawCC. Michele wondered about faculty at UH Hilo currently teaching courses designated Hawaiʻi Pan-Pacific (HPP).

We also would like the podcast to be used in onboarding, so it is shared with new hires, but perhaps even shared with employees hired in the last three years. Might it be made a piece of the new faculty orientation?

Currently, the podcast is being funded through grant monies from Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center. That generous grant ends in September. How do we fund the last three months of podcast production, which includes honoraria for our guests. Some suggestions included Panaʻewa Hawaiian Homestead (often look for community projects to fund), Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, Chamber of Commerce, UH Foundation, and Vibrant Hawai‘i.

We also discussed getting an update on the status of stipends for our three leads - our hosts and production manager.

Lastly, Bruce asked about adding an Instagram plugin for the blog.

Action items for Ka Leo o ka Uluau:

  • Kathleen will reach out to the Hawaiʻi Department of Education Office of Hawaiian Education.
  • Bruce will ask Drew about ways to spread the word about the podcast as a classroom resource at Hawaiʻi CC in their Hawaiian Language and Hawaiian Studies programs.
  • Michele will ask Shelby for a list of courses designated HPP and for the names of faculty teaching them.
  • Kathleen will ask about onboarding and use of the podcast at UH Hilo during the onboarding process.
  • Hualani will check on podcast funding - end date of the grant and any progress on stipends.
  • Kathleen will talk to Brennan about an Instagram plugin for the blog.

The Bigger Picture

Kathleen provided an update on strategic planning. There is a plan in the early stages. There will be a basic external-facing document and an action plan document that has much deeper content. That action plan will be used for one year, then revised and updated based on progress toward institutional goals/benchmarks. An institutional profile will be set forth each year and collectively over the years of the plan that is tailored to measure relevant data points based on identified initiatives.

The four overarching thematic goals are Equity, ʻĀina-based Education and Applied Learning Experiences, Campus Culture (includes relationships), and Resource Development and Capacity Building.

The initial reaction was, that this is overwhelming - how is it possible to make such systemic change? Where do you start?

The reaction to the format for the plan was that it will be a place/way to organize efforts. The action plan is positive. It was suggested that we coordinate with WASC efforts.

Committee members reacted to this question: “What does UH Hilo need to do to truly become the University for the Island - how do we serve students before, during, and after UH Hilo and how do we best serve the Island?

Several discussed that on the Island, HawCC is currently the choice for students who wish to stay on island. UH Mānoa is often the choice for students wanting to study “away” but not leave Hawai‘i. Compared to HawCC, UH Hilo is perceived as intimidating. At UH Hilo, “you’ll be a number, just another student.” As a parent, it’s difficult for high school students to figure it all out on their own - laulima, admissions, registration, etc. HawCC has a “students first” attitude more than UH Hilo.

There is a gap - students want more support, faculty believe they need to learn. How do we balance support without enabling students, but also, how do we change perceptions of UH Hilo through our actions and words?

A contributing factor in this issue may be how we identify and differentiate ourselves at UH Hilo. Should we be more active with Early College and Head Start programming? If we had a strong institutional identity, if we were more visible in the community and on the Island, would perceptions change?

What are the current overlapping areas between HawCC and UH Hilo? The two were married, but not now. As a former HawCC student, Bruce mentioned two physical spaces that were comfortable for him - the library and the learning center. He also mentioned the Hālaulani Transfer Success Program which provided individualized attention and advising for students who intend to transfer to a 4-year institution, along with connections with peer mentors who helped students prepare for UH Hilo. That program no longer exists, and likely went away around 2015-2016. There may be a new grant that could help to take up this work.

Currently, there is one transfer advisor in the advising center. Student onboarding to UH Hilo is complicated and not particularly friendly. There is a hand off through STAR Kiosk, but no email or introduction.

The subject turned to leadership. There is currently tension and hostility on campus, aggravated by COVID and the resulting funding challenges. Information is coming out piece by piece and there are many unknowns. It is important that the leadership team navigate through these challenges. There was a mention of a UH Mānoa website that showcases post-pandemic planning. There are many moving parts, but communications like these are very important to maintain positive relationships across campus.

There is a belief that students aren’t paying that much attention to these challenges, and that even before COVID there was a sense among students that there were some organizational issues at the University. Students are more focused on their day-to-day experiences and are looking to the University for friendliness and support in their academic pursuits.

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