Harald Barkhoff and Jared Russel
Harald Barkhoff (left) receives award from Jared Russel, chair of the AKA Diversity Committee.

The Department of Kinesiology and Exercise Sciences (KES) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo received the 2019–2020 Inclusive Excellence Award from the American Kinesiology Association (AKA). Professor Harald Barkhoff traveled to the AKA Leadership Conference in Tampa, Florida to receive the award on behalf of his department.

The AKA Inclusive Excellence Award recognizes academic programs that exemplify the core principles of inclusive excellence and diversity. The award honors the department’s commitment to inclusiveness through its recruitment, retention, hiring, curriculum development and administrative structure.

The award also “recognizes and celebrates the diverse student make-up of our KES program,” says Barkhoff. “Eighty-four percent of our students come from diverse ethnic backgrounds, of which 35 percent are Native Hawaiians.”

UH Hilo’s kinesiology and exercise sciences department was nominated for the award by Jennifer Stotter, director of the UH Hilo Office of Equal Employment and Affirmative Action. Stotter wrote in her nomination letter that the kinesiology and exercise program has increased not only its numbers of Native Hawaiian students, but that the overall increase of 84 percent is above the UH Hilo average of 76 percent.

“I believe the success of KES at UH Hilo is largely due to the faculty’s commitment to Uluākea, a faculty training and curriculum development program for the creation and/or modification of curricula to include authentic and practical Hawaiian cultural and linguistic applications in an effort to support an all inclusive and holistic place-based educational approach,” Stotter wrote. “Additionally, and most notably, the KES faculty have been active supporters of our Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao initiative, a systemwide strategic goal to indigenize the UH System and serve our diverse local and Native Hawaiian Communities.”

Stotter added that the KES department was one of the first at UH Hilo to include a desirable qualification in all new position descriptions asking for candidate experience working with diverse populations.

“This simple action has had a positive impact on the department by creating a more diversified faculty within the KES department,” Stotter said.

Read the full story on the UH Hilo Stories website.

—By Susan Enright

The award to the UH Hilo Kinesiology and Exercise Sciences program was presented at the American Kinesiology Association’s Leadership Conference.