I am pleased to share with you the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo 2020-2021 Annual Report.

The year was a challenging one as we navigated through the impacts of the pandemic, something none of us has lived through before. But as I said in my welcome address last fall, it gave us an opportunity to concentrate on what is essential, both at home and at work.

Our successes are largely due to our immensely dedicated faculty, staff, and students who make UH Hilo a remarkable place. Focusing on the mission of the university—to challenge students to reach their highest level of academic achievement—the campus implemented pandemic safety protocols, cleaning regimens, online trainings and courses, and a high standard of service. Facilities staff erected plexiglass barriers, signage, and sanitizing stations for those required to be on campus. Custodial staff mobilized to clean and disinfect spaces. Information technology staff put in extra hours to upgrade online delivery of classes. Budget staff labored over the numbers, figuring out how to stay in business.

Education and community outreach moved forward. Students took their classes and presented their research online. Ka Haka ‘Ula o Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language doctoral candidates defended their dissertations. ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center launched a small camp for keiki, complete with all the physical distancing required. Everyone adapted while faculty continued to deliver a quality education, and students continued to learn about and explore the world, gaining knowledge every step of the way.

Through it all, UH Hilo has remained a truly student-centered campus, serving both the students who were here physically and those who were studying from a distance. High standards were maintained while faculty and staff acted with empathy to students and to one another. And because of this, and despite all the unexpected challenges brought by covid, the university had an immensely successful year, filled with accomplishments, accolades, milestones, and celebrations. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the report for details.

And now we begin to move toward resuming a more familiar normalcy. It has been decided that our campus and the entire UH System will return to pre-pandemic office hours of 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, beginning Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Some units such as the Mookini Library traditionally have different hours of operation from standard office hours. Check unit web pages for updated hours. 

ICYMI: The June 27 Hawai‘i Tribune-Herald featured our University Town tabloid. With articles by Kathleen Baumgardner about strategic planning, Jasmine Mahinapolu Koko-Casey about her experiences in our Indigenous Teacher Education program, and Director of Athletics Pat Guillen on our recent Vulcan fundraising campaign, the supplement highlights a number of things going on at UH Hilo. Of particular note is a profile piece on our first baccalaureate graduating class. We celebrate 50 years of providing high quality baccalaureate education here in Hilo! Mahalo to all of you for keeping this grand tradition going.

Congratulations to our School of Education for recently being awarded the full seven years of accreditation along with a commendation by the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation. AAQEP promotes and recognizes quality educator preparation that strengthens the education profession’s ability to serve all students, schools, and communities, and to do so equitably.  AAQEP is nationally recognized  by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Congratulations also to our master’s program in Counseling Psychology (Specialization: Clinical Mental Health Counseling) for receiving full re-accreditation by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) for the period June 2021 through June 2029. The MPCAC accredits academic programs in psychology and counseling, which promote training in the scientific practice of professional psychology and counseling at the master’s level.

UH President David Lassner visited our island briefly in June to meet with donors and alumni. Both groups recognize that our success is a major factor in the quality of life on Hawai‘i Island and expressed their ongoing support for what we do. I hope to make announcements about a community advisory board and an alumni advisory board for the campus by the end of summer. Please send me any suggestions you might have for membership in either group.


Bonnie D. Irwin