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UH West Oʻahu holds first virtual Convocation and Professional Development Day


Image courtesy of UHWO Staff

The University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu faculty and staff tuned in to the first ever online Convocation and Professional Development Day, held Aug. 19 via Zoom. The event serves as the unofficial start of the fall semester.

Most of the attendees watched the program from their homes or offices. The event was produced by the administration team and select support staff, who presented from the Campus Center multi-purpose room. Those who gathered at the MPR adhered to safety protocols, practicing physical distancing and wearing face masks.

The morning ceremony opened with a beautiful welina (welcome) video by Aunty Lynette Paglinawan, UH West Oʻahu’s beloved kupuna in residence.

The welcome was followed by a program featuring various faculty and staff acknowledgements, important safety and health information regarding returning to campus, remarks by the vice chancellors on upcoming goals, and an overview of UH West Oʻahu’s budget.

Special guest speaker Dr. Mays Imad, professor of pathophysiology and biomedical ethics at Pima Community College in Tucson, Ariz., also shared via Zoom a presentation, “Cultivating a Learning Sanctuary to Claim the Heart of Higher Education.”

Recognitions and awards

The ceremony included a welcome to new faculty and staff; a mahalo to recent retirees Joseph Bariyanga, Lawrence Boyd, and Michael Delucchi; and an acknowledgement of UH West Oʻahu’s 2020 tenure and promotion recipients.

The following staff and teaching awards were celebrated:

  • UH West Oʻahu Staff Kumupaʻa Award: Marnelli Ulep
  • 2019-2020 Lecturer Excellence in Teaching Award: Tiare Picard
  • 2019-2020 Laulima Teaching Innovation Award: Charod Dodd
  • Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching Excellence: Kamuela Yong

Service Awards were also highlighted:

  • 10 years: Richard Jones, Kawena Komeiji, Keith Sakuda, and Kyra Takeuchi
  • 20 years: Jean Javellana and Mark Nakayama
  • 30 years: Gary Nakamura

Navigating through a pandemic

Chancellor Maenette Benham addressed how COVID-19 affected UH West Oʻahu when the pandemic hit Hawai’i in early spring and efforts taken to ensure everyone’s safe return to campus for the fall semester.

“Many of us, myself included, could not have anticipated or imagined the unprecedented events that we have been navigating through,” Benham said.

She shared a heartfelt thank you to the entire campus community.

Chancellor Maenette Benham
Chancellor Maenette Benham

“You have all over the last six months showed great courage, endurance, and a capacity to work together — in the early days, throughout the summer, and into our efforts to prepare for our fall 2020 semester,” Benham said. “You have committed yourself to the vitality of this campus, so to all of you, on behalf of the entire UH West Oʻahu ʻohana, mahalo, mahalo, mahalo.”

Benham reminded faculty and staff to visit the UH West Oʻahu website for COVID-19 campus information and to refer to the Interim COVID-19 Guidelines, which includes information about the UH West Oʻahu COVID-19 Response Team, Pueo Safety Promise, and more.

The presentation included a quick demonstration on LumiSight UH, a health check-in app for individuals to conduct a daily check of their health status prior to coming onto campus, as well as information on how to obtain a UH West Oʻahu ID card, which is needed to gain access around certain areas on campus.

Pushing ‘to the next level’

UH West Oʻahu’s vice chancellors also presented during the ceremony, conveying their gratitude to faculty and staff, and outlining their efforts for the returning academic year.

Vice Chancellor for Administration Kevin Ishida began by thanking the staff of the VCA departments for their hard work and dedication during the pandemic over the past six months.

“I know together we will continue to achieve our mission as we provide critical services and support for our students, one another, and our campus community,” Ishida said. “In the end, we will become a much stronger UH West Oʻahu.”

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Jeffrey Moniz discussed bourgeoning learning models and elevating instruction.

“As of today, 90 percent of our course offerings are online,” Moniz noted. “While our campus has lead our UH system in the percentage of online offerings and many of our instructors are quite effective in their online pedagogy, I challenge you to elevate instruction through our commitment to online and hybrid models of learning. Let’s see if we can push things to the next level.”

Moniz also talked about the importance of cultivating continuous improvement.

“Let’s rededicate ourselves to our value proposition, mission, and vision in relation to the entire university system’s pivot, as described by President (David) Lassner, toward a more sustainable and resilient future,” Moniz said. “Let’s lead an intentional, local transformation to a flourishing, sustainable future via the learning afforded by our blend of professional and liberal arts education.”

“This year, we’ll have a couple of vehicles to facilitate this process,” he continued, “our WSCUC Self Study and the new ACE Learner Success Laboratory.”

Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jan Javinar started off by celebrating a success. He noted that as of Aug. 18, UH West Oʻahu’s enrollment was up by 32 students over the same time from last fall, an improvement of 1.9 percent. Javinar expressed hope in continuing that effort.

“We want to continue to refine what we do to ensure and encourage students’ continuation in enrollment term to term,” he said.

The goals this year are to apply recruitment and outreach approaches in culturally appropriate ways, and — because of the pandemic and the economic disruption it has caused — to reexamine workflows to ensure that pivoting to online service delivery may still contribute to community building for students, Javinar said.

Reduce costs, strengthen enrollment, and increase efficiency

Benham dedicated a portion of the day’s program discussing UH West Oʻahu’s budget situation. Benham shared information scheduled to be presented at the August 20 Board of Regents meeting.

Benham presented UH West Oʻahu’s General Funds and Tuition and Fees Special Fund revenues and expenditures for Fiscal Year 2021 (projected), which showed a budget deficit of $2.2 million.

“The key themes for this strategic action year is: reduce costs, enhance our academic focus and strengthen our enrollment, and increase our efficiency and effectiveness,” Benham said.

Benham closed by expressing her appreciation for everyone at the event — both virtually and in person — and the hard work, commitment, and passion they have dedicated to UH West Oʻahu.

“So our theme for this week, and perhaps it is our theme for this entire semester, is ‘E ala! E alu! E kuilima!’ — ‘Awaken! Come together! Join hands!’ ” Benham emphasized. “Indeed, I believe that our collective effort will lead to our success.” 

To see pictures from the event, visit the Fall 2020 (Virtual) Convocation & Professional Development Day album on flickr.

Image courtesy of erinjkim

Image courtesy of UHWO Staff