Michael T. Unebasami, associate vice president for administrative affairs for the University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges, was honored with the 2019 National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) Distinguished Business Officer Award. NACUBO’s most prestigious award is given to the individual who has shown exemplary leadership, outstanding achievement and extraordinary service over an extended period of time.
Unesbasami received the award at NACUBO’s annual meeting held July 13̵;16, in Austin, Texas, along with two other higher education leaders and two universities.
“NACUBO award recipients exemplify the best of the sector,” said NACUBO President and CEO Susan Whealler Johnston. “I am particularly pleased to recognize these outstanding individuals at such a critical point for American higher education. As we face both significant challenges and great opportunities, we need business leaders like these.”
Unebasami came to the UH Community Colleges in 1993 after serving as Leeward Community College’s director of administrative services for 13 years. He currently manages both the finances and administration of UH Community Colleges. He has been credited for strategically planning capital improvements to transform aging campus plants into modern facilities, and growing the office’s operating budget from $90.8 million to $248 million during his tenure as chief business financial officer. His vision also included implementing an energy-reduction plan with a goal of achieving net-zero energy use by 2020.
“This award is a testament to the many colleagues and friends who’ve mentored and supported me throughout my career,” said Unebasami in his acceptance speech. “I am deeply honored and humbled to have been selected for this award and to be recognized alongside past recipients whom I’ve long admired and respected through my association with NACUBO. It is with great appreciation that I accept this recognition on behalf of the business officers at the University of Hawaiʻi System and the University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges, and colleagues at NACUBO and WACUBO, whom I’ve come to know as friends.”
Interim Vice President for Community Colleges Erika Lacro remarked on how Unebasami brings new energy to tried-and-true ideas. “Mike is not only a very accomplished executive and leader, but his commitment goes beyond the campus walls and boardrooms. He exemplifies how business officers in higher education can push forward ideas into action. He helps us build important partnerships internally and externally so that we can continue to offer our students a better learning environment, higher customer service and improved processes, while also supporting innovation and growth at the campuses.”
Unebasami’s NACUBO honor is the second major award recognizing his leadership. He was honored by the State of Hawaiʻi with the Governor’s Award for State Manager of the Year in 2009.