University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents affirms UH's unique commitment to Native Hawaiians

University of Hawaiʻi
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-8109
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Mar 25, 2009

At its monthly meeting held at Honolulu Community College, the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents (BOR) amended its policy concerning the university‘s mission to articulate the university‘s unique commitment to Native Hawaiians and to reflect current practice of the UH system and its 10 campuses.

"This Board of Regents action affirms our University's special relationship with Native Hawaiians," stated BOR Chair Al Landon.

"This action by the Board more firmly positions the University of Hawaii as one of the world‘s foremost indigenous-serving universities, consistent with our strategic plan," said University of Hawaii President David McClain.

The language added to BOR policy section 4-1c states, "As the only provider of public higher education in Hawaiʻi, the University embraces its unique responsibilities to the indigenous people of Hawaiʻi and to Hawaiʻi‘s indigenous language and culture. To fulfill this responsibility, the University ensures active support for the participation of Native Hawaiians at the University and supports vigorous programs of study and support for the Hawaiian language, history and culture."

"This language is both timely and strategic, as it supports international standards established by the United Nations," said Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa, UH Mānoa Professor of Hawaiian Studies and member of the systemwide Pūkoʻa Council, who testified representing the UH Mānoa KualiʻI Native Hawaiian Advisory Council. "This new BOR policy will transform the history of how we all, Native and non-Native, work together harmoniously here in Hawaiʻi."

A new paragraph, 4-1c(3), also was added to BOR policy. It states:

"The University of Hawaiʻi is committed to diversity within and among all racial and ethnic groups served by public higher education in Hawaiʻi. The President, working with the Chancellors, ensures the unique commitment to Native Hawaiians is fulfilled by:

  • providing positive system-wide executive support in the development, implementation, and improvement of programs and services for Native Hawaiians;
  • encouraging increased representation of Native Hawaiians at the University of Hawaiʻi;
  • supporting full participation of Native Hawaiians in all initiatives and programs of the University;
  • actively soliciting consultation from the Native Hawaiian community and specifically Pūkoʻa, the system-wide council of Native Hawaiian faculty, staff and students that serves as advisory to the President;
  • providing for and promoting the use of the Hawaiian language within the University of Hawaiʻi system
  • providing a level of support for the study of Hawaiian language, culture and history within the University of Hawaiʻi system that honors, perpetuates, and strengthens those disciplines into the future;
  • encouraging Native Hawaiians to practice their language, culture and other aspects of their traditional customary rights throughout all University of Hawaiʻi campuses and providing Hawaiian environments and facilities for such activities; and
  • addressing the education needs of Native Hawaiians, the State of Hawaiʻi, and the world at large, in the areas of Hawaiian language, culture and history through outreach."
Linda Johnsrud, UH vice president for academic planning and policy said, "By clearly articulating UH's commitment to Native Hawaiians in the mission statement, the BOR sends a message that we take our obligation seriously, and that we recognize the critical role of higher education to the quality of life of current and future generations of Hawaiians."