UH Hilo to promote Asian American and Pacific Islander education

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642
Director of Media Relations, University Relations, UH Hilo
Posted: Dec 16, 2011

The U.S. Department of Education has selected the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo as one of 11 colleges and universities to receive part of a grant through the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) Program for fiscal year 2011-2012.
UH Hilo’s award is $399,977 for the first year and is part of a five-year grant which runs through 2016 totaling $1,994,025. The funds will be used to develop and implement a comprehensive, culturally informed student support program to strengthen learning, engagement and success.
The key components include a summer bridge program, academic support services such as advising, tutoring, peer mentoring and financial aid counseling, activities that have been shown to have a high impact on student engagement such as on-campus employment, first-year experience courses, and service-learning and research projects, and faculty development workshops. The project will also conduct and disseminate research into best practices that facilitates the success of Pacific Islanders in higher education.
“Most of the research on Asians and Pacific Islanders aggregates these diverse populations into one monolithic group,” said Jim Mellon, director of international student services and intercultural education at UH Hilo and the project’s principal investigator. “One of the aims of this project is to disaggregate data on these diverse groups, dispel myths about Asian and Pacific Islanders in American higher education, and find out what unique factors contribute to and facilitate their success.”
Mellon added that the project will enable UH Hilo to develop and assess innovative approaches that are informed by cultural values such as the importance of group achievement and to be at the forefront nationally in this area.
Established in 2007, the AANAPISI program seeks to increase the capacity of higher education institutions to better serve disadvantaged college students. With about one of every three students being Asian American or Pacific Islander, UH Hilo was one of the first institutions nationwide to receive an AANAPISI grant when it initiated a similar project in 2008.
“UH Hilo has a proven record as an institution of choice for Pacific Islander students,” noted Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Luoluo Hong. “We want to do all we can to support their success and improve their learning outcomes. Building the new Pacific Islander Student Center was the first step; now we need to ensure we provide needed programs and services.”