December 4, 2009
December is an invigorating time of celebration and transition - as we head into the crush of final exams, we’re also preparing to celebrate the warmth of the holiday season and launch into an exciting new year.
During this hectic time, I hope that you’ll pause to acknowledge our many blessings – especially our dear friends and loved ones – and reflect upon the critical challenges we’ve faced together here at UH Mānoa as we look ahead with enthusiasm to coming accomplishments.
This update looks back at some of the exciting progress we've made since the start of the fall semester and gives you an idea of what’s in store for UH Mānoa in the near future.
Our mid-year Commencement Exercise combines the Undergraduate and Advanced Degree Ceremony on Saturday, December 19, from 9:00 am to noon at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Our Commencement Speaker will be Dr. Virginia Pressler, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategic Officer of Hawaiʻi Pacific Health, and the holder of three diplomas (MBA, MS, and MD) from UH Mānoa. Dr. Pressler is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2009 Hall of Honor Award from Shidler College of Business, American Cancer Society, Planned Parenthood, Hawaii Medical Association, Healthcare Association of Hawaii, YWCA and others. This truly outstanding alumnae is very appreciative of the education she was able to obtain at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
We will also award the Regents’ Medal of Distinction to the late Mr. William Kwai Fong Yap, who is known as the founder of the University due to his efforts to elevate us from a college to university level. A respected education advocate, businessperson and civic leader, Mr. Yap’s contributions to Mānoa continue through his family.
I encourage all members of our UH Mānoa community to attend and participate in this very special, joyful celebration. This is truly an event that honors the accomplishments of our students, the support of their loved ones and the contributions of our faculty and staff to the future of Hawaiʻi and the world. For more information go to University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Commencement.
WASC Accreditation Visit
UH Mānoa is hosting a site visit next week in connection with our reaccreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The visiting team will be meeting with groups and individuals on December 8th and 9th to review Mānoa’s progress in fulfilling commitments established in our Institutional Proposal.
Open meetings with students, staff, and faculty are scheduled to give you an opportunity to provide informal input to the visiting WASC team. These open meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, December 9, from 4:00-4:45 p.m. in the following locations: Faculty - Campus Center Room 308; Students - Campus Center Room 310; and Staff - Campus Center Executive Dining Room.
You are also invited to attend the Exit Interview with the WASC team on Thursday, December 10 from 10:00-10:45 a.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom. WASC has established a confidential email account so you can communicate with the WASC team directly.
The prioritization process has already led to a number of positive changes on the campus and the information related to those changes has been collected from the schools/colleges and will be posted on the prioritization website within the next two weeks. Certainly the global financial crisis has created a major budgetary challenge for Hawaiāi and for UH Mānoa, so we all are striving to maintain academic excellence through prioritization, while, at the same time, having to reduce costs. That is definitely not easy, so information on the impact of budget cuts has been collected for sharing as well.
Many of the recommendations from the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Prioritization are moving forward; in some cases, the recommendations are ready and moving into the next step; in others, more information was needed to assist in determining what those next steps should be. The Budget Prioritization Workgroup continues to meet and is working on specific issues from eliminating redundancies to strengthening small units/programs. Their work continues and can be followed at the Budget Prioritization Workgroup site.
During this process, the campus has gained valuable insights into changes that we needed to make (and are making); however, the budget crisis is certainly driving unwanted changes and difficult choices during this time as well. From my perspective, the most challenging impact is that there are many positions we are unable to fill because of the budget crisis; that certainly is changing how we can accomplish our goals.
Thankfully, the creativity of this institution is evident as our faculty, staff and students continue to generate innovative solutions. So there is actually a great deal of positive forward movement, for example: increased recruitment of Hawaiʻi students; improved, more responsive monitoring of class demand; stronger partnering inside and outside the institution; an enhanced focus on highly subscribed, rather than undersubscribed, majors/certificates; and marked improvements in our facilities reflecting our priority on repairs and maintenance – all such efforts are contributing to an increasing recognition of UH Mānoa’s impressive contributions to Hawaiʻi and our global community.
However, we definitely have a great deal more to do and we have constant reminders of that reality, ranging from our struggling to provide the level of services needed to dealing with major facility failures like Gartley Hall – while also facing a tenuous financial situation.
So, especially in times like these, we need to pull together and make any improvements possible that will enable our institution to accelerate our priorities when the financial picture improves.
Mānoa Green Days
The Mānoa Green Days campus closure on the day after Thanksgiving went well, according to feedback received at this point. Our next period will be from December 19 to January 3, so it is very important that everyone keep informed about their individual responsibilities with regard to being on duty Mānoa Green Days Memo October 28, 2009 (PDF), and about the buildings/services that are affected:
Mānoa Green Days Memo November 20, 2009 (PDF).
Congratulations to these members of our UH Manoa campus for their exceptional efforts:
- Professor Rebecca Knuth in the Library and Information Science Program was selected by the editors of the nationally prestigious Library Journal as recipient of the LJ Teaching Award, recognizing one outstanding educator who excels at inspiring the next generation of librarians.
- ASUH (Associated Students for the UH) gained final approval of the Student U-PASS, which means that starting next semester UH Mānoa students will receive a bus pass for unlimited use on all City bus routes. This important partnership with the City and County of Honolulu will be funded by a $20 per semester student fee.
- College of Engineering has established the Dr. Alfred A. Yee Visiting Professorship in Civil and Environmental Engineering to bring world-class professors on a regular basis to teach undergraduate students in the civil and environmental engineering program. This endowed professorship is made possible through the generosity of an anonymous donor’s $1 million gift.
- Associate Professor Sam L. Noʻeau Warner of Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language has produced a series of Hawaiian language children’s books to help overcome the shortage of curricula materials for Hawaiian language immersion classes. With the help of a Native Hawaiian Education federal grant, Warner published 31 Hawaiian language books aimed at helping Hawaiian immersion children.
- The Music Department celebrated the re-opening of the Orvis Auditorium last month after major renovations – combined with multiple volunteer Mānoa Makeover projects organized by music faculty, staff and students to beautify their offices and grounds – these improvements provide our community with a shining showcase for musical performances and recitals.
- Athletics enjoyed a tremendously successful Centennial Celebration Gala this week which raised $275,000 – the largest amount for a single fund-raising event at UH Mānoa. These funds will be used in part to establish the first endowment for Athletics which is directed at supporting its operations needs. The dinner featured two-time Super Bowl winning coach Dick Vermeil and was chaired by Dr. Edison Miyawaki, owner of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. Congratulations to all who contributed to this success.
- The UH Mānoa Sustainability Corps had a kick-off meeting this week organized by Eric Crispin. Stay informed and get involved in Mānoa’s new initiative, Malama Honua to build on our progress in sustainability – each one of us can contribute to this endeavor.
- The research efforts of our faculty, staff and students continue to be truly impressive – as of today, UH Mānoa is bringing in more than $1.35 million a day in research and training grants! That activity creates advances for society and also jobs for the people of Hawaiʻi.
- For the past seven years Hans O. Nielsen in the Environmental Health and Safety Office has organized Thanksgiving food donations from co-workers and friends to the homeless shelter at the Institute of Human Services. This year’s gift to the hungry amounted to 2,432 pounds of turkey (124 birds), and 400 pounds of rice. A wonderful example of generosity and caring for our community.
Mahalo nui loa to all of the many folks who make UH Mānoa and Hawaiʻi such a wonderful place to live, study and work. The Native Hawaiian saying, “By working together, we make progress,” is surely key to UH Mānoa’s progress – now and into the future.
I wish everyone “Happy Holidays and a highly successful New Year!”
Virginia S. Hinshaw
Chancellor, University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa