UH Hilo Strategic Planning

Meeting Notes - March 31, 2021

Relationships Committee Meeting: Wednesday, March 31 at 11:00am

Present: Julie Mowrer, Justina Mattos, Jennifer Stotter, Kathleen Baumgardner

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


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 our name, we will showcase five storytellers at each event - a UH faculty member, UH staff member, UH student, UH alum and a community member.

We discussed moving forward with one Wailau episode per semester beginning in fall, so two per year. This will allow us to better support our storytellers with additional time to prepare and speaker coaching and to allow more lead time in order to encourage applications. We hope to target specific classes and outside organizations where the event theme is a fit and encourage them to participate. We might be able to partner with Toastmasters to help provide storyteller coaching. We also could partner with Colby Miyose, instructor of communication, to see if Wailau might be a potential project for his public speaking class.

Action items for Wailau:

  • Kathleen will reach out to the English Club to see if they might provide the theme for fall semester’s Wailau.

An Update on Community/University Partnership Day

The idea: Build collaborative efforts to solve some of the challenges we face on the Island through an opportunity-based event or events bringing people together from on and off campus. Julie mentioned that she is working with a group who share interests in community-university partnerships. She is asking people from other campuses what is working for them. Of course, there are currently challenges due to COVID.

We briefly discussed something that Ulu shared before: The flow of what you describe seems that we want to create a system where community members/efforts to come into UHH and share their ideas...while that's not a bad idea, I think we also have to think of reversing that flow and encouraging, empowering, and facilitating opportunities where faculty and staff go into communities to understand what the interests and needs are of Hawaiʻi island and see where and what opportunities come up (i.e. do a significant amount of empathy work). This puts the kuleana of reaching out and into communities on UHH, with the expectation that there is a commitment and investment that UHH is making outside of its walls. A flow working both ways seems ideal. I think we need to position UHH faculty and staff within communities and their supporting organizations in order to understand what long-lasting and mutual relationships can be developed.

How do we get people at UH Hilo involved in the community? Or how do we find out how they are currently involved so we can tell that story?

One issue that seems to exist is that there are UH Hilo people doing work out in the community and some aren’t necessarily thought of as from UH Hilo, but rather as a parent of a child, or a volunteer from a specific neighborhood, etc. It would make an impact if people from UH Hilo identify themselves as such, proudly and visually (t-shirts, etc) and if we tell these stories.

Action items for Community/University Partnership:

  • Julie will update the group on any interesting ideas that come up with her group.

An Update on Collaboratory, a Database of Community-Engaged Efforts

Background: Collaboratory is a relational database that uses data to develop the story of an institution’s meaningful contributions to the health and vibrancy of communities, and builds acceptance of community engagement and public service as integral to higher education mission and culture. UH Hilo is harnessing this tool for our campus and it is now on the web.

Populating Collaboratory takes time. One-on-one sessions with faculty or staff who will enter their information take about an hour. There has been a suggestion to offer group presentations. One complication is that if you don’t use the database consistently, you may need to relearn how to use it each time. Some universities have how-to guides/videos and we may have to develop these, and perhaps do quick-start sessions with several people at a time and then sign up participants for one-on-one sessions or even do sessions right then.

Given these last two updates, we wonder if there are ways to get more of our stories told. One faculty member recently was saying, “We do so much work with the community, but we just don’t have the time to write a press release.” There are some stories being written by student workers, but supervision is critical and it takes time to check facts and accuracy. And, we need to stop piling on the same capable people. And, it is common for the extra effort to fall on women and women of color or the person who cares the most, despite the fact that they are overloaded. Efforts should be institutionalized so we can rely on the work getting done without overloading the same people.

The Bigger Picture

The group looked at draft action plan text for Goal 3: Affirm Our Commitment to Kākou - Campus ʻOhana

These are the strategies that resonated most with the group (in no particular order) with points of discussion:

  • Strive for a faculty and staff that is reflective of our student body.
    • We hire very solid people, but our problem is keeping them.
  • Discover and recognize the impact that we are already making and determine how to best communicate those efforts.
    • This may be low-hanging fruit with solid planning and support.
  • Find ways to open our campus and welcome community use.
    • LGBT groups and Black community groups rely on the university to be a safe space and they want more. Events for Black History Month were packed and 70% of participants were non-UH Hilo people. Unfortunately, once the time frame the rooms were reserved for had elapsed, people were asked to leave. The events ended in a not so positive way.
    • Joseph Sanchezis trying to make the library a more community-friendly space and may have thoughts about the barriers he has experienced.
    • Policies get in the way. We don’t manage risk but we do seem to avoid it completely. There needs to be a balance.
    • We can’t welcome all use, but we need to be strategic and find a balance.
    • We need to create a stronger link with alumni and invite alumni to campus. (Example where we fall short: Jazz orchestra is low enrollment for students but has a great deal of alumni loyalty. Students strive for it but it is a high bar. So, the orchestra is constantly on the verge of being cancelled and alums are often disappointed. This is often a lost opportunity.)
    • Where are our open doors for the community? Athletics, the arts, and events. What does the community want? It would be helpful if there were an events coordinator. Many people across campus work on events, but often have to relearn systems each time another event pops up.
    • Perhaps it is better to focus on everyday reasons (not big events) to come to campus - music, food, farmers market.
    • How do we welcome more children to campus? At another city, the city-run arts center opened each theater production with a performance for school children (example: every 6th grader was bussed to the center) and it served as dress rehearsal.
  • Increase interdisciplinary and collaborative efforts among programs and colleges, but also between academic and student affairs. Develop a shared understanding of our roles and how they fit together. (Note on leaky bucket: this strategy may move to another goal area)
    • Affinity groups may make an impact. They provide support and build bridges by inviting people who support the group to participate. They bring people together whose paths might not normally cross. They allow more people to build allies and relationships, plus they often include community engagement opportunities.
    • It is currently difficult to co-teach or teach in another area or discipline.
    • Perhaps there could be a space where people who are interested in interdisciplinary work might co-locate offices. On another campus, a building was funded and built that was interdisciplinary. Research pods were aligned with research problems. These pods included office and lab spaces for faculty and graduate students from different disciplines. Plus, when old spaces were vacated, it offered new opportunities to innovate in those space.
    • Look at all the courses that are co-listed across disciplines - this may be a place to start.
    • We are also looking into cluster hires.
  • Nurture and strengthen our campus relationships, with new ways to incorporate gratitude into our culture.
  • Create a professional development program that targets critical skills needed on campus.

Unlike other universities, UH Hilo grew up inside the community rather than the community growing up around the campus. This is something we need to examine. This may contribute to our challenges with connection.

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