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Silhouette of Maui in a heart

This message was shared with the students, faculty and staff of the 10-campus University of Hawaiʻi system on August 21, 2023.

Welina mai kākou,

Sadly, as this semester begins we have yet to fully comprehend the devastating impacts of the catastrophic fires on Maui, the most deadly natural disaster in our state’s history. This is a disaster that is creating emotional, social and economic upheaval for thousands and has destroyed centuries of historic and cultural treasures. Our hearts go out to all who are suffering. We know that many of our students and employees have endured severe personal losses, and UH will continue to find ways to help our people and our communities heal and look forward.

More on how to help Maui ʻohana and the Maui wildfires.

Moving forward together is essential. For those of you who are new to the University of Hawaiʻi, whether a student or employee, we warmly welcome you to this amazing place where we are so fortunate to live. Some of us love the oceans that surround us and some love the mountains that cool us. Some love our location in the middle of the Pacific and some love the best weather on the planet. Some are Native Hawaiian descendants of the voyagers who first arrived here centuries ago. Some are 4th or 5th generation immigrants to Hawaiʻi. And some are the first in their families to make Hawaiʻi home for a few years or a lifetime, arriving from far corners of the Earth. But all who have chosen to make Hawaiʻi home, whether for four years or a lifetime, have found something special that touches their mind, body and spirit.

We are the world’s most diverse higher education system with a deep commitment to serving all the people of our islands, wherever they are and whatever their need for education and training, scholarship and research. Our work is grounded in the proven traditional Indigenous wisdom that made Hawaiʻi a model of sustainability, woven together with modern Western knowledge, helping us innovate toward a better future for all.

We hope you will thrive here at UH as you pursue your passions and create meaningful connections with people and places. Our students and teachers, employees and scholars, are all committed to learn and grow together as we care for others and face the challenges and opportunities facing Hawaiʻi and our planet. Those moments and memories are what distinguish a University of Hawaiʻi education.

I wish you all not only a great fall semester but a successful and rewarding academic experience with us. And for those suffering from the wildfires, please reach out to your campus for help so we can do what we can to assist.

E mālama pono,
David Lassner
UH President

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