UH Hilo Strategic Planning

Meeting Notes - May 18, 2022

Relationships Committee Meeting: Wednesday, May 18 at 12:30pm

Present: Justina Mattos, David Kurohara, Bob Agres, Jennifer Stotter, Julie Mowrer, and Kathleen Baumgardner

Meeting purpose: Action Plan work and Wailau live

Welcome to our new members - David Kurohara and Bob Agres! The group shared introductions and talked a bit about the Relationships Committee.

Wailau update

The idea: The purpose of Wailau events is to build connections across campus and with the wider community that go deeper than the roles we hold while honoring our complex, fragile and brave selves. In keeping with the meaning of Wailau, we will showcase five storytellers at each event - a UH faculty member, staff member, student, alum and a community member.

The Spring episode of Wailau premiered on May 7. There was one disappointing aspect - we had a storyteller who had planned to tape and submit their story, but they did not follow through. When prompted with reminders, the person continued to say it was coming. There came a point where we had to move forward with four stories rather than five. However, the episode was a full one. We had a few longer stories and there were introductions of our new hosts who will take the reins in the fall.

We discussed the fact that Wailau will be live this fall. How will we try to drive storyteller applications? Justina mentioned that she will ask our previous storytellers to recommend the experience to others or recommend potential storytellers to us so that we may reach out.

We discussed the current methods being used to encourage storyteller applications - social media, a press release sent to local media outlets and shared to all UH Hilo employees via email, a blurb in the e-news Ha‘ilono o Hilo, and personal emails to targeted people. We added a question to the storyteller applications asking applicants how they heard about Wailau, and we do get the occasional response of Instagram or a campus email, but more often it’s those personal emails that make the difference.

The group talked about the 2-days of storytelling in Volcano after the eruption. It was so powerful, yet surprising. So many of the stories were about embracing change for the better, focusing forward with a grounding in a past history. How we present the theme may help to drive applications.

There was a comment that storytelling is a great gift. Some speakers bureau efforts allow participants to learn techniques culminating in a performance. Could Wailau be framed as a series of workshops or a resource for people interested in honing public speaking skills? What various groups of people does the theme resonate with? We may want to go through clubs or organizations. Public speaking is the third greatest fear for the general public, behind public speaking and joke telling. It is difficult for many people to consider.

Given that this is the first live event, what time should it be on Friday (Nov. 18)? Campus tends to clear out at 4:30. Experience with the Puna Revitalization meetings, showed that 4:30 - 7:00 p.m. is the sweet spot. In terms of outreach, they looked for nodes in broader networks to get participation. They did use an RSVP system - they would get 200 response and 150-160 would actually attend. They were able to collect contact info through RSVP which we could potentially use to encourage future storytellers.

The theme, New Beginnings, could be about COVID, the eruption, a new direction in life, etc.

Wailau action items:

  • Bob will find out what software was used to collect RSVPs for the Puna Revitalization events.
  • Kathleen will begin a draft press release for review that works at framing the theme.
  • All - Who should serve as our next topic expert for the theme, New Beginnings?
  • Kathleen will made sure the day of week is correct on the Wailau website.

Online Recognition System

7.1.1. Strategy 7: Nurture and strengthen campus relationships and campus culture. Action 1: Increase opportunities to express gratitude and celebrate success in large and small ways across campus. Deliverable 1: Communicated the work of campus groups/committees recognizing that the work was meaningful and acknowledging the impact or efforts that came to fruition.

An Online Recognition System (tentatively named Kākoʻo by Sunny in web services) is in development. Brennan has begun the work, but says the app is stalled at the /admin/ phase. The front end app works, using the directory database, but he says the administration shouldn't be commingled with the directory admin/. He hasn't yet figured out how to split those concerns. So, it's on his list, but not at the top of his list at the moment.

The sponsor for 7.1.1. asked for us to consider accessibility. We have verified that each employee issued an ID also is given an email. However, this does not guarantee that every employee is in the directory. We would also want to make sure that it is accessible through personal cell phones. We will need to work through this to ensure greater accessibility.

We discussed using a QR code that leads to a fillable form - the more people across campus see this, the more it clicks as being usable by all members of the campus community, whether they sit at a computer or not.

We discussed a web page of these recognitions. The power of “hero stories” was mentioned. (Note: we do have the Vulcan Vibe at UH Hilo - should we as a committee be making submissions?)

Could students honor faculty/staff members through this system? If it requires a UH login, that may be possible. Use by community members to make a nomination may not be possible.

Online recognition system action items:

  • Kathleen will ask more questions about the directory and its population.

Action Plan 7.1.1. - Additional Ideas

We opened a conversation to begin generating additional suggestions to "Increase opportunities to express gratitude and celebrate success in large and small ways across campus." (7.1.1. in UH Hilo's Action Plan We could certainly provide the sponsor with additional ideas.

We discussed how to improve morale. It was mentioned that surveys show that love of the work is a factor. How do you lift up love of the work? At the County, they try to connect and reinforce the “why” of the work they do. There is a strong connection to purpose.

We talked about developing a culture of service. Hawaiian Electric tries to ground employees in that framework. Employees are keenly aware of how their job impacts others. They started a “Mahalo Card” system. Online you can flip through those acknowledgements. A monthly summary of mahalos are converted into a video montage. Perhaps something like this could be played at a UH Hilo end-of-year ceremony or during the beginning of the monthly University Forums. Hawaiian Electric has a “We Connect” team that created the system and it’s custom designed for their intranet, so not accessible outside the company.

Idea: If there are periodic awards (quarterly, annually), whoever wins might be treated to lunch with their supervisor and the Chancellor at the Yacht Club or ʻImiloa. Awards might be already established or for safety, community stewardship, etc. Recognize these awardees in newsletters.

Idea: Deepend connection through immersion and transformative experiences. At the County, VISTA interns are exposed to cultural practices, they volunteer in the fishponds, and the groups prepare food together. Strengthening pilina.

It was suggested that this should be a program.

The question arose as to whether there are locations that the University has access to that might not be accessible to many others? Do we have a boat? Engaging in these types of spaces might be seen as truly special and unique.

Julie mentioned the 3-day, hands-on workshop on Inclusive Excellence for UH Hilo faculty and staff that will be offered in August and include work at Laehala & Haleolono Fishponds. This in-person workshop is open to faculty and staff interested in designing learning environments (e.g., classrooms, programs, departments) that are responsive to the needs of all students. Participants will have an ʻāina-based learning opportunity at Haleolono Fishpond, which will constitute the basis of our individual and collective inquiries. They will wrestle with fundamental questions of knowledge, power, and belonging and co-create practical interventions for deepening inclusivity in our respective university contexts. The workshop concludes with dedicated time for participants to reimagine and recommit themselves to culturally sustaining and inclusive practices, whatever their roles are in the university.

This grant-funded workshop required jumping through many hoops. There are certainly meaningful places on the island for these experiences.

There was a question about onboarding and what it looks like at UH Hilo. For faculty, it has basically been a 2-3 day orientation but we are currently at the early stages of working toward a one-year program. There was a question about whether the UH System has a program that spans all campuses, but each campus does their own onboarding process.

There was some conversation about building a cohort-based system. This may help to break down silos while impacting morale. Co-learning about place can be powerful. ‘Iole was mentioned as a possible resource. The mission for this space is a fit, as one of its three focus areas is place-based learning.

At this point our time had expired, and we closed the discussion.