UH Hilo presents year-end awards

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642
Director, Media Relations, University Relations
Posted: Jun 1, 2012

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo honored four employees and a student worker with various awards during its year-end celebration held in May at the Campus Center Plaza.
Receiving the Excellence in Service Award was Dr. Seri Luangphinith, associate professor of English. The award recognizes a faculty/professional staff member for outstanding service (related to professional skills) to a college or unit, to the University of Hawaiʻi, to the community, state or nation.
“Seri is a leader on campus, and is THE leader in preparing our university for WASC recertification by integrating assessment, general education and our strategic plan,” said Dr. Todd Belt, associate professor and chair of political science, in presenting the award. “Rarely has the university seen someone as altruistically dedicated and tireless as Seri, and rarely have we enjoyed such potentially transforming results.”
The Pulama ‘Ike Award, given to an individual who has made significant contributions to developing and promoting the mission and spirit of the university, was presented to Campus Recreation Department Director Tim Moore.
“The Student Life Center was basically just a building when he first arrived on campus, but in the remarkably short time he has been at UH Hilo he has turned a building into one of the main centers of activity on campus,” said Robert “Tommy” Hamilton, associate director of the campus recreation department and award presenter. “Promoting and developing the mission of the university – to develop outstanding students who will become leaders in the future, and do so with a strong sense of purpose, ethics and community spirit – is at the heart of Tim’s work.”
Dr. Lorna Tsutsumi, professor of entomology, received the Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation, which recognizes creativity in teaching, scholarship and artistic production at UH Hilo.
“Two years ago, Dr. Tsutsumi partnered with Chef Alan Wong in creating the ‘Adopt a beehive with Alan Wong’ program in which donors adopt a hive managed by students,” said College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management Farm Manager and award presenter Richard “Diki” Short. “This program has attracted enough donations to partially develop a bee garden at the UH Hilo farm featuring bee-friendly plants, finance three $1,000 scholarships per year for advanced beekeeping students, and pay for expansion of the bee operation. It has also increased public awareness of the plight of bees and their importance to crop production and natural ecosystems, the use of honey in recipes and products, and has stimulated education programs throughout the state.”
This year’s winner of the Excellence in Building and Grounds Maintenance Award, presented to a building and grounds maintenance employee who has made significant contributions to the university, is Gordon Mitchell. Auxiliary Services Director Kolin Kettleson noted Mitchell, who generally works in the Performing Arts area, also takes one-two classes a semester.
“Gordon Mitchell truly is UH Hilo,” Kettleson said. “He is a student, he supports students, faculty and staff, he shares his knowledge, time, and talents, and has for more than 25 years.”
Kettleson added that Mitchell received seven different nominations and earned top ratings in each of the nominating categories.
The Student Employee of the Year Award was presented to Ho‘oleina Ioane, who serves as a community coordinator in the on-campus residence halls and has been promoted to mentor coordinator effective next year. Residence Hall Manager and award presenter Justin Leibowitz said Ioane really stood out among the university's nearly 700 student workers.
“As a student, resident, and community coordinator, she was an integral part of the Residence Hall Association (RHA), and served as its first president,” Leibowitz said. “Under her leadership, the RHA has earned a Commitment to Diversity Award from the Pacific Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls, a programming grant, registration scholarships and a grant to educate the campus about gender-inclusive housing.”