Students walking on U H Maui College campus

About 2,500 students started their first day of the fall semester at University of Hawaiʻi Maui College on Monday, August 28. Their start was delayed by a week because of the devastating impact of the wildfires on the Valley Isle.

University of Hawaii Maui College sign on rock wall
The rock wall, Laukanaka, extends to the east of the entrance to UH Maui College

“Laukanaka—‘many people’—is the name retired Hawaiian Studies Instructor Kiope Raymond gave to the rock wall at the entrance to our campus. It was built by many people,” said UH Maui College Chancellor Lui Hokoana. “Kiope also wrote an oli (chant) with that name, which we use at the opening of campus events. Since the wildfires, Laukanaka has become the guiding principle of UH Maui College. We have opened our campus to our community and welcomed many people from near and far who simply want to help. And now, we welcome our new and returning students. We believe we have created a safe environment filled with aloha for them. And we are here to do everything possible to make this unusual fall 2023 semester a successful one for all.”

Staff help new students navigate the 78-acre campus

The Stupski Foundation through the UH Foundation quickly made a $1 million donation to establish a fund that directs immediate cash payments to UH students impacted by the Maui wildfires. So far, 241 students have each received an initial payment of $2,000. This is just the first disbursement.

The UH Foundation is accepting donations to support both UH students, faculty and staff impacted by the fires, a fund to help feed Maui and the immediate cash relief fund. Affected faculty and staff have also received initial direct support donated by several organizations and disseminated by the UH Foundation.

Helping with recovery efforts

Students in culinary outfits smiling and flashing shaka
Culinary Arts program students

UH Maui College is also helping to heal the community. The campus has turned the Student Lounge into a Disaster Recovery Center, housing a FEMA assistance location, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the American Red Cross, all to help Maui residents. A new student lounge has been opened in the same (Pilina) building and computers will be set up there soon. As of August 28, the Community Services Building will house State agencies and their staffs, also to help Maui residents affected by the wildfires.

The college’s Pāʻina Building has served as a food preparation hub since August 10, feeding thousands of displaced residents every day. Local chefs and hundreds of volunteers work alongside UH Maui College Culinary Arts Program faculty, staff, students, alumni and retirees to prepare nourishing and comforting meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This effort will continue for at least the next eight weeks. Since the building will not be available to Culinary Arts students, the college is offering to hire all of them into a practicum course so that they, too, may support the food hub relief efforts.