Erika Lacro will be recommended for approval as University of Hawaiʻi Vice President for Community Colleges (VPCC) at the January 2020 Board of Regents meeting.
Editorʻs note: Erika Lacro was officially approved as the University of Hawaiʻi Vice President for Community Colleges at the January 16, 2020 Board of Regents meeting at Windward Community College.
The VPCC is tasked with leading UH’s seven community colleges as a system within the UH system. Lacro has been serving as interim VPCC since June 1, and as Honolulu Community College chancellor from 2012. She would replace John Morton, who retired in June 2019.
“Erika is a proven leader with knowledge, experience, and a record of success in multiple roles within UH and the private sector,” said UH President David Lassner. “She understands where we have been and has the vision and commitment to advance our community colleges in meeting the challenges of a rapidly changing world, while continuing to provide quality, affordable education for the people of Hawaiʻi.”
Lacro was raised in Hilo, Hawaiʻi, graduated from Hilo High School and then attended UH Mānoa where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in travel industry management. She returned to school as an adult to earn her PhD in communication and information sciences.
“This is an amazing honor for me and my family, and I know it comes with tremendous responsibility,” said Lacro. “Our community colleges are critical to Hawaiʻi because a quality education is the best way to improve one’s economic and social well-being. It has to be affordable, accessible and continually evolving in order to meet the needs of our students and the workforce of the future. It is a dream come true to be able to serve Hawaiʻi, my home, in this way.”
Lacro was the first woman to serve as chancellor at Honolulu CC when she was appointed in 2012. Under her leadership, Honolulu went from one of the lowest performing campuses to one of the highest in the community colleges system. She served at Honolulu CC as vice chancellor of academic affairs from 2007 and prior to that held several executive and management positions at the UH Mānoa School of Travel Industry Management, including assistant dean. Lacro held several management roles at the Hilton Hawaiian Village before joining the university.
Lacro was selected for recommendation as VPCC after a comprehensive nationwide search conducted by members of the UH and external community that reviewed scores of applications, conducted multiple video interviews, and brought forward two exceptionally qualified finalists.
Lacro has led successful system-wide efforts including the Achieving the Dream Initiative, Complete College America and the Reverse Transfer Initiative which awards associate degrees to students at UH 4-year universities upon completion of academic requirements. She played a key leadership role in gaining private funding to upgrade the STAR Academic Journey for the entire UH System and served as the principal investigator in a $24.6-million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants program to develop and support training programs across the state that lead to jobs in the agriculture, energy and health industries.