2021 was another year of accomplishments for the University of Hawaiʻi. The 10-campus system was undeterred by the COVID-19 pandemic and continued to provide the people of Hawaiʻi access to affordable, high-quality, higher education, along with so much more. UH continued to produce world class research and play an important role in the stateʻs response to COVID-19.
From record enrollment to a national championship, the opening of a state-of-the-art Academy for Creative Media to a former UH Maui College student who directed a Marvel movie blockbuster, here are the top UH News stories, in no particular order, for the year 2021.
2021 Top Stories
Enrollment across UH system increases for first time in 10 years
Bucking the national trend and driven by large enrollment gains at UH Mānoa, enrollment for the University of Hawaiʻi 10-campus system increased for the first time in a decade. UH enrolled 49,773 students systemwide in fall 2021, a 0.4% increase compared to fall 2020, the first enrollment increase since 2010.
UH Maui College achieves net-zero goal
UH Maui College is now virtually net-zero and is among the first campuses in the nation to generate 100% of its energy from on-site solar photovoltaic systems coupled with battery storage. The campus joins Leeward Community College, which became the first net-zero UH campus in July 2020. The UH 10-campus System has a goal to be “net-zero” by January 1, 2035.
New state-of-the-art Academy for Creative Media facility ready for students
UH West Oʻahu opened its state-of-the-art, 33,000-square foot, $37 million Academy for Creative Media facility. The campus is now the destination for creative media education in Hawaiʻi by linking facilities and programs throughout the UH System and across the state as a catalyst for the state’s intellectual property workforce.
UH men’s volleyball wins national title in three-set sweep
The University of Hawaiʻi men’s volleyball team won the 2021 national championship with a sweep of Brigham Young University. The last NCAA team title UH won was in 1987, when the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team defeated Stanford in the national championship.
UH Community Colleges help unemployed residents through Hana Career Pathways and Oʻahu Back to Work
The UH Community Colleges are aiding unemployed or underemployed Hawaiʻi residents with an opportunity to get up to $2,000 in tuition assistance for short-term training that can lead to industry credentials in healthcare, technology and skilled trades through the Hana Career Pathways. From August to December, the UH Community Colleges and the City and County of Honolulu also offered free job preparation classes for Oʻahu residents who were struggling to find employment. Instructors at seven UH Community Colleges and the UH Mānoa Outreach College taught classes in business and technology, healthcare, human services and trades, as part of Oʻahu Back to Work.
Scientific breakthrough: First images of freshwater plumes at sea
UH Mānoa researchers demonstrated a new method to detect and map oceanic freshwater plumes in high resolution. The technique provided the first imaging of the substantial freshwater plumes west of Hawaiʻi Island that may serve as a source of freshwater in the future. This research is critical in a world facing climate change, since freshwater is vital for preserving public health, agriculture, ecosystems and the global economy.
UH Cancer Center commemorates its 50th anniversary
The UH Cancer Center celebrated its 50th anniversary. After a half century of cancer research, education and community outreach, the UH Cancer Center has earned its place as one of the leading cancer research institutions in the nation and the world.
1st place in rocketry competition for UH Community College students
A team of UH Community College students took first place in a rocketry competition held in Nevada in September. The Project Imua Mission 9 team won the extreme altitude hybrid motor competition with the launch of their 12-foot, eight-inch hybrid rocket, named “Apophis.” Students from Windward Community College designed and built the rocket, and Honolulu Community College students designed an atmospheric sensing payload that was carried aboard.
ʻŌiwi poet-professor lands national award, publishing deal
UH Mānoa assistant professor Noʻu Revilla made literary history when she bested more than 1,600 other poets to become the first ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian) poet to win the National Poetry Series. Revilla will likely be the first openly queer ʻŌiwi woman to have a full-length collection of poetry published, after one of the country’s finest independent publishers offered her a book deal after winning series.
UH Mānoa alum covers January 6 siege of Capitol Building
UH Mānoa alumnus Kent Nishimura, a Los Angeles Times photojournalist, captured the chaos of the infamous January 6 siege of the Capitol Building. After photographing violent clashes outside, Nishimura was literally carried into the building when police pulled back and the protesters flooded into the building.
Maunakea Rangers warn public of hazards, vehicle restrictions to summit
The unsung heroes of Maunakea, the UH Maunakea Rangers are integral in protecting the mauna and everyone who visits this revered place. Trained first responders on duty seven days a week, the Rangers also monitor natural and cultural resources and serve as ambassadors, reminding visitors to treat the mauna with respect.
Weird, delicious, science at the Culinary Institute of the Pacific
Students mastered fire, ice, smoke and other novel techniques at the Culinary Innovation Center in the UH’s Culinary Institute of the Pacific on Diamond Head as part of a “Food Science and Modernist Cuisine” 300-level class.
Marvel’s Shang-Chi directed by former UH Maui College student
UH Maui College is now part of the Marvel universe (sort of) as former Maui College student, Destin Daniel Cretton, directed the Marvel blockbuster Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The movie marked a milestone for Asian Americans in cinema as it featured the first Asian superhero to lead a Marvel film.
Netflix’s Finding ʻOhana stars former UH football standout
A former UH football player had a starring role in the hit Netflix movie, generating one of the most popular UH News stories of 2021. Former Rainbow Warrior linebacker Brad Kalilimoku, who is no stranger to Hollywood, plays Kua Kawena in Finding ʻOhana.