Aloha UH Mānoa community,
Welcome to the start of a new academic year!
Coming on the heels of a year that saw both the highest enrollment and the largest volume of externally-sponsored research in several years, Fall 2019 carries with it the expectations of still further progress in our work together to inspire and educate our students through our scholarship and creative work, and to do so in a fashion that directly benefits the people of Hawaiʻi.
The coming year also brings, for many of us, anticipation and concern. Some of our faculty, students and staff continue to engage in peaceful protest over the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea. Many have asked me if the university’s support for the project is at odds with our aspiration to become an aloha ʻāina university. Many others have asked if there is a place on campus for individuals who support the project.
There can be no denying that this is a significant moment for Hawaiʻi and its flagship university. In my view, we must seize this moment and provide our community with opportunities to speak their minds and engage those with differing ideas. In other words, we need to take the time to listen and learn from one another. Over the past year, we committed through our draft Strategic Plan and accreditation process to the aspiration of becoming an aloha ʻāina university. We will not always agree on the path forward to achieving that aspiration, but we can and must agree on our core values and our vision. The current draft of our Strategic Plan calls for us “to be locally and globally recognized as a premier student centered, Carnegie Research 1, community-serving university grounded in a Hawaiian place of learning that summons our rich knowledge systems to help mālama Hawaiʻi and the world for future generations.”
Your voice matters as we navigate the days and weeks ahead. My office is actively working with our deans and other campus leaders to ensure that our important work in the service of our students and our community continues strongly. I have also been contacted by several faculty who are planning lectures, panel discussions and other events to encourage thoughtful and respectful discussion and learning. These events will be part of the campus’s weekly events email and I encourage all to participate.
On a more personal note, my journey from the island of Manhattan to the island of Oʻahu in December 2015 was in some small measure made seamless by my background in the ocean sciences and my familiarity with Mānoa. But the journey was largely facilitated by the aloha shared with me by the faculty, staff and students of this great university. It didn’t take long to fall in love with UH Mānoa, its energy, creativity and generous spirit. I am humbled each and every day by the profound and lasting impact of the efforts made by our faculty, students and staff here in Hawaiʻi and well beyond. I will do my best to support your great work!