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UH-Hilo chancellor delivers State of the University address

Despite the challenges of the past year, University of Hawaii at Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin said the state of the campus is good and she thinks its outlook is bright.

Irwin delivered a State of the University address Wednesday that was livestreamed from the UH-Hilo Performing Arts Center.

The chancellor recognized those who assisted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and spoke about enrollment trends, diversity, graduation rates and the university budget, among other topics.

“We’ve been talking about budget a lot this year, and while I am more optimistic about the next few years than I was several months ago, we need to stay fiscally conservative.”

The UH system is facing budget cuts from the state because of the pandemic.

“The Legislature still has not decided our government funds budget for the next biennium, but it is now looking as though the cuts will not be as deep as the governor originally proposed,” Irwin said.

Although the state funds nearly half of the university’s expenses, Irwin said UH-Hilo remains heavily dependent on enrollment revenue.

However, diversifying revenue through grants, donations and other sources will allow the university to stabilize its budget.

According to Irwin, federal coronavirus relief aid from Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds also has provided breathing room within the budget.

That support has allowed UH-Hilo to give emergency funds to students, employ more students on campus and provide professional development.

Moving into summer and fall, Irwin said UH-Hilo will support many of the same efforts.

“The federal relief funding is one-time money and has many restrictions as to how we can spend it, but the goal is to spend a significant part of it on our people to make students’ educational journeys smoother and employees’ professional activity more efficient and more rewarding.”

Irwin also outlined three strategic goals that emerged through conversations with students and community: improving student success, with a focus on equity; strengthening UH-Hilo’s relationship with the region; and supporting and strengthening its campus culture.

“These three goals may not encompass everything that every person might want to see, but they will enable us to build on our strengths and create a sustainable future for our university and our community.”

Irwin’s full speech can be viewed at bit.ly/StateofUHHilo.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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