BY VIRGINIA HINSHAW – Aloha! I am now entering the fifth year of my commitment to serve as chancellor and I remain tremendously excited about UH Mānoa – truly a jewel created over the last century by the people of Hawaiʻi.
As I look to the future, I also believe this is an opportune time for me to announce my decision to transition out of my role as chancellor during July 2012, to allow sufficient time to complete a search for a new chancellor.
My favorite Native Hawaiian saying is “By working together, we make progress.” As I review the last four years in my heart and mind, I feel deeply satisfied with the progress we have made by working together. After arriving in 2007, I quickly learned that our campus cherished Mānoa’s “multicultural global experience in a Hawaiian place of learning”, termed the Mānoa Experience. Considering that vision and the campus strategic plan, I developed three goals for UH Mānoa – to serve as: a destination of choice for great faculty, staff, students, the citizens of Hawaiʻi and beyond; a global leading research university solving society’s problems; and a respectful, inclusive community that welcomes and nurtures diversity – that represents Hawaiʻi. After viewing our facilities, I also stated that “UH Mānoa is a jewel in many ways, particularly intellectually, but badly tarnished physically” – a challenge to accomplishing our goals.
Since that time, I have enjoyed the Mānoa Experience each and every day – working with and learning from our diverse community full of the aloha spirit – and that has created exciting progress in areas critical for the future of UH Mānoa and Hawaiʻi. Much of our progress is based on partnering, both at the campus level and with the broader community, and communicating the value UH Mānoa provides to Hawaiʻi and the world.
During this time, we have celebrated many special accomplishments which I call “Mānoa Moments.” UH Mānoa has earned full WASC accreditation for the maximum term of ten years – a clear indication of our advances in ensuring student success, ranging from enhanced advising with four-year graduation plans to availability of required courses. We now welcome a growing student population and house almost 4,000 students in transformed residence halls, now described as “awesome.” We offer increased financial aid to ensure access for Hawaiʻi’s students and also provide a smoother transition for transfer students from UH Community Colleges to continue their education. Our Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge is rapidly securing Mānoa’s global leadership as an indigenous serving institution and recently received a $2M endowment for the dean’s position. Our campus community is highly active in partnering with community groups to enhance our citizens’ lives – such as, providing medical care for the underserved, encouraging our keiki to see college as their future and sharing expertise in solving Hawaiʻi’s challenges, ranging from dealing with climate change to building financial security.
“Polishing the Mānoa jewel” is definitely well underway – major renovations / new buildings / repairs supported through increased state and private support are evident, such as opening the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education, building gathering spaces, updating classrooms, replacing old, energy consuming equipment and the list goes on – all with an eye to providing a great learning environment – and also demonstrating sustainable practices and promoting community.
Our innovative research enterprise continues to be an international leader and is close to generating $500M per year with increasing partnerships across our campus, UH institutions, local businesses and government agencies – joined together in creating careers for our graduates. Our new cluster hiring initiative in Sustainability and Native Hawaiian opportunities will bring expertise to strengthen our progress in those campus priorities. Private donors have generously stepped forward with over $130M over the last four years to support our mission, because they share our excitement. Our alumni and friends now receive frequent communications about the accomplishments of their university and increasingly join us at gatherings, from Homecoming and campus open houses, to alumni events around the world – sharing their respect and love for this university – and wearing their Mānoa pins with pride.
In essence, our progress is reflected in the title of our updated campus strategic plan “Achieving Our Destiny” – achieving is truly what UH Mānoa is doing. Making such progress during a global recession is particularly impressive. There are also many advances in process, such as ensuring the success of the great new faculty we just welcomed, opening our new Cancer Center and Campus Center Extension, installing solar photovoltaic panels on buildings, initiating a new comprehensive campaign and much more. During this coming year, I will devote my energy and passion to working with you on the campus priorities of retention and graduation, Native Hawaiian advancement and graduate education quality.
UH Mānoa is truly an impressive university – “like no place else on earth” – with many accomplishments yet to come. I am confident that UH Mānoa is moving forward in a very positive direction, but there is also much yet to do. So I am strongly dedicated to a smooth transition for the campus as the next chancellor is selected. I know that individual will feel as I do – blessed to serve this university and be part of the Mānoa ohana. My heart is smiling as I envision the future for UH Mānoa and Hawaiʻi – mahalo nui loa!
Virginia S. Hinshaw is the Chancellor for the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.