Hawaiʻi hosts participants at the 2018 Tribal Colleges and Universities Leaders Forum. Left to Right: Joshua Kaakua, Regina Sievert, Jermalina Tupas, David Lassner, Don Straney, Carty Monette and John Rand

The University of Hawaiʻi’s Office of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education hosted the National Science Foundation (NSF) Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP) Leaders Forum in Honolulu in April. More than 80 respected leaders from tribal colleges, Alaskan Native-serving and Native Hawaiian-serving institutions from across the U.S. attended the forum.

“The UH is very proud to be a partnered with such a distinguished and committed group of TCUP leaders,” said John Rand, UH Office of STEM Education director. “We are honored that they chose Hawaiʻi as the location to gather, share ideas and to plan for the future.”

Project leaders from the national TCUP community met at both Kapiʻolani Community College and Waikīkī to discuss how to:

  • Increase the participation and enrollment of Native students in STEM career pathways;
  • Improve the quality of academic programs and pathways at tribal and native serving institutions;
  • Advise the NSF on how to best support these communities in the future.

Academic and career pathways

Carty Monette from the Tribal Nations Research Group and Corin Kim from Leeward Community College work to improve Native student pathways in STEM fields.

The theme of the 2018 Leaders Forum was Academic, Community and Career Pathways. Expert panelists, guests and speakers included Hōkūleʻa navigators and crew from UH and the Polynesian Voyaging Society Kaʻiulani Murphy, Haunani Kane and Lehua Kamalu; Emily White Hat from the American Indian College Fund; John Rand from UH System Office of STEM Education, Tribal College presidents, and program officers from the NSF.

An NSF video showcasing pathways work highlighting undergraduate STEM research experiences at TCUP institutions was presented to attendees (NSF Video: Best Kept Secret: STEM Research at Tribal Colleges and Universities). In his closing remarks, UH President David Lassner cited the importance of building pathways for underserved students at both TCUP institutions and throughout the university system in general.

NSF TCUP support in Hawaiʻi

In the past 10 years, the University of Hawaiʻi has received more than $17 million in competitive NSF TCUP funding (11 awards) to support STEM education and Native Hawaiian student success in STEM. The 2018 NSF TCUP Leaders Forum was made possible by an NSF award led by Joshua Kaakua of the UH System Office of STEM Education. Local support was provided by the Strada Education Network.

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