Lava erupting out of the ground
Image courtesy of Volcano Video Production

University of Hawaiʻi President David Lassner shared a message on May 23 to students, faculty and staff of the UH campuses.

Aloha UH ʻohana,

This is a wonderful time of year for most of us as we celebrate graduation season and have a chance to reflect on the successes of our students over the past year.

But it is also a difficult time for many, whose lives are being impacted by the Kīlauea eruptions directly or by air quality degradation. I want to express my personal concern to our students, faculty and staff who reside in Puna and Kāʻu or who have family and friends there. You are and have been in our thoughts as the lava began flowing on May 3.

We respect with amazement and awe the natural phenomena underway and the uniqueness of Hawaiʻi as it continues to change and grow before our eyes. But we remain focused on supporting the devastating impacts on those affected. I encourage affected students to contact your Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for assistance with housing, food, transportation, counseling or other needs. And our Vice Chancellors for Academic Affairs are on alert to assist those who need academic accommodations. Impacted employees should be in touch with your supervisor or HR office for any necessary accommodation or assistance.

For those of you not familiar with Hawaiʻi Island geography: The volcanic activity is currently 20 miles or more from Hilo, where Hawaiʻi Community College and UH Hilo are located. The flows originate from Kīlauea and are actually moving away from Hilo. While circumstances can change, neither UH campus is at risk from the Kīlauea lava flows. The island continues to experience occasional earthquakes as a normal component of the current activity, but no significant structural damage has been reported on either of our Hawaiʻi Island campuses. It is completely safe to travel to Hawaiʻi Island, as multiple official public statements have emphasized.

We encourage our Hawaiʻi Island residents to continue to monitor air quality levels, especially those south of the volcanic activity. We will issue additional statements as needed based on how events unfold.

Mālama pono!
David Lassner
UH President