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Kaiāulu award shared by Distance Learning, OPDAS, and IT teams


IT Director Therese Nakadomari, left, and Dr. Gloria Niles, center, Director of the Office of Distance Learning and OPDAS, received the Kaiāulu award from Chancellor Maenette Benham, right. Image courtesy of UHWO Staff

The University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu’s Office of Distance Learning and Office of Professional Development and Academic Support (OPDAS), as well as UH West Oʻahu’s Information Technology (IT) Services Unit, are shared recipients of the Ola Ke Kaiāulu award — an award that highlights how a community thrives through the efforts of its people.

Also known simply as the Kaiāulu award, it was presented at UH West Oʻahu’s Professional Development/Convocation Day on Aug. 18 by Chancellor Maenette Benham. Dr. Gloria Niles, Director of the Office of Distance Learning and OPDAS, and IT Director Therese Nakadomari, accepted the honor on behalf of their entire teams.

In the past, the Kaiāulu award has been presented during each fall convocation to the division who earned the most points by encouraging employee participation in identified programming and awareness events designed to support the foundation for building a safer, healthier, and more positive culture and community on our campus.

“Over the last 1 1/2 years everyone has had to lift a ton of feathers, so it was difficult to identify a single unit to be recognized for their efforts to live into our Pahuhopu,” Benham said.

Addressing Niles, Nakadomari, and their teams, Benham continued: “Their individual and collective efforts to support and build online and hybrid learning environments gave us a new sense of community and supported our efforts to deliver our programs, to meet, and to launa/reconnect and be with one another. Their vigilance, 24/7 assistance, and care created spaces where people were supported — mind, body, and spirit. And, Gloria and Therese, we are all better at what we do because of you and your teams’ efforts. Your teams, your work has strengthened the pillars of our vision, mission, and value proposition.”

The award recipients will share the Chancellor’s perpetual trophy named “Kaiāulu.” The name is from the phrase “ola ke kaiāulu i ka hana kānaka,” which means, “a community thrives through the efforts of its people.”

According to a description of the Kaiāulu trophy on the university’s website, it includes the five pillars which represent the Chancellor’s guiding principles: Poʻokela (educational excellence); Kaiāulu (our campus community); Hana Lawelawe (service to the larger community); Mālama Honua (care of land, sea, and sky); and, Waiwai (philanthropy, scholarships, and partnerships). Each of these principles are etched at the top and at the bottom of each pillar and around the platforms.

Each pillar, as well as the base, bears the symbolic pattern of the wing markings of the pueo, the native Hawaiian owl that is the mascot of UH West Oʻahu. In front of the ʻumeke is UH West Oahu’s seal, etched on a wooden koa medallion. The entire base and pillars, including the maile lei, is made of koa; the ʻumeke (bowl) at the top is made of kamani wood. Both woods are native to Hawaiʻi and highly prized by woodworking artists.