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Barack Obama Presidential Center

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We are grateful for the support of Howard Hughes Corporation Sr. VP David Striph (center) and Governor Neil Abercrombie (right).

On March 28 I attended an informative and enjoyable breakfast briefing on the proposed Barack Obama Presidential Center. Business and community leaders were invited to hear about proposed plans for the center in Kakaʻako.

Thank you to Governor Neil Abercrombie, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Office of Hawaiian Affairs CEO Kamanaʻo Crabbe, Howard Hughes Corporation Sr. VP David Striph and many other community and business leaders for attending the briefing, which included an excellent video presentation of our proposal. We even secured a few additional generous donations from the Howard Hughes Corporation, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Hawaiian Electric Industries to develop Hawaiʻi’s proposal.

The faculty-led Presidential Center leadership team, headed by American studies Associate Professor Robert Perkinson has been working on this project since the 2008 primaries, even before Barack Obama became president. The team also includes Maxine Burkett (law), Patricia Halagao (education), Maria Simone (architecture) and A.J. Halagao (advisor).

Thank you all for your dedication, hard work and support!

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Mayor Kirk Caldwell (far left) demonstrated his support for the Barack Obama Center, along with other community leaders.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

I had the honor of meeting Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education at a dinner coordinated by the Hawaiʻi Department of Education and hosted by Debbie Berger and Bill Reeves of The Learning Coalition.

Secretary Duncan was in Honolulu as part of his Race to the Top tour of all 50 states. The U.S. Department of Education says Duncan is the first education secretary to visit Hawaiʻi in about 20 years.

While here, Secretary Duncan visited Ka Waihona o ka Naʻauao public charter school on the Waiʻanae Coast as well as Waipahu High School. He also praised the Hawaiʻi DOE and the public school system for significant progress made in the $75 million Race to the Top grant.

We are proud of the strong partnership between UH and the state DOE; one strong example of this was witnessed by Secretary Duncan in the work that Leeward Community College and UH West Oʻahu are doing with Waipahu High School around accelerated learning and early college classes.

KITV: U.S. Secretary of Education visits Waipahu High School

Meeting with President Underwood of the University of Guam

smiling man Robert Underwood

University of Guam President Robert Underwood. Courtesy UOG Facebook

I had a good meeting with the president of the University of Guam, Dr. Robert Underwood, who visited us at Bachman Hall recently. We first met when I traveled to U of Guam in 2012 to help the campus with information technology matters.

Dr. Underwood and I discussed higher education at our respective institutions and the East-West Center hosted a luncheon in his honor while he was in Honolulu.

UH Community Colleges at the State Capitol

people standing before doors representing opportunity and access

Community college chancellors standing before doors representing opportunity and access at their campus. Via UH System Flickr

We had a successful College Day at the State Capitol on Tuesday, as part of Education Week at the State Legislature.

One of the highlights was a symbolic presentation of the “opening of college doors” representing the the UH Community Colleges’ open-door mission. Our community college chancellors stood before a row of multi-colored doors and opened them for the students to symbolize accessibility, affordability and quality education offered by our community colleges.

UH VP for Community Colleges John Morton and I would like to thank Governor Neil Abercrombie, State Senators Jill Tokuda and Brian Taniguchi, and State Representative Isaac Choy for taking the time to attend our opening program and to experience our community colleges’ exhibits and demonstrations in the Rotunda and second floor of the State Capitol.

Thank you to VP Morton, Director of Marketing Communications Susan Lee and countless others who worked tirelessly to make our College Day a success!

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UH System Interim President David Lassner speaking at College Day at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol. Via Leeward CC Flickr

See more photos and video from College Day 2014

Visit with the president of the Republic of Kiribati

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Interim President David Lassner and His Excellency Anote Tong, president of the Republic of Kiribati

Today I met with His Excellency Anote Tong, president of the Republic of Kiribati. President Tong is in Hawaiʻi to give a keynote speech at the Pacific Risk Management ʻOhana conference Building Communities of Practice for Resilience at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center. He also gave a public lecture at the East-West Center about the impacts of climate change on Kiribati and other Pacific Islands.

We enjoyed a discussion on education, sustainability and other issues related to being small island communities in the middle of the Pacific.

Making connections at Keio University in Japan

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Participants in the Evidence Based Approach (EBA) Consortium, March 7-8, 2014 Keio University, Kanagawa, Japan

I was in Japan recently to serve on Keio University’s external reviewing committee for the Re-Inventing Japan Project which aims to foster human resources capable of being globally active. The project also provides financial support to the formation of collaborative programs with ASEAN universities that conduct study abroad programs for Japanese students.

We discussed student recruitment, an accreditation plan and other higher ed issues.

Building global conservation networks

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Representatives of the Smithsonian Institute, Bishop Museum and UH meet to collaborate.

It’s been about conservation this week.

Hawaiʻi is one of two finalists to host a large conservation conference here in Hawaiʻi. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) 2016 World Conservation Congress is also looking at Istanbul, Turkey.  IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network, and its World Conservation Congress is the world’s largest and most inclusive nature conservation forum held every four years.

The forum hosts 8,000 to 10,000 delegates from around the world to discuss and decide environmental and development issues and policy. This is an amazing opportunity for Hawaiʻi.

I spent Monday with forum representatives on Hawaiʻi Island and attended a couple of receptions in their honor, including one with Governor Neil Abercrombie.

I think the group was pretty impressed with what our state as to offer and the way we have pulled together to bring this important event to our state.

Also last week—the Smithsonian Institution’s National Board was here for a few events, including the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding around the Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network.

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David Lassner with Smithsonian Institute Secretary G. Wayne Clough upon the signing of a memorandum of understanding regarding the Marine Global Earth Observatory (Marine GEO) project.

The Smithsonian is launching a global network of coastal marine observatories called Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network and the university’s Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology is partnering with the Smithsonian on a Hawaiʻi site (not yet determined) to potentially become the first “partner” site in the network. Exciting.

55 by ’25 campaign launch

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Senator Jill Tokuda; GG Weisenfeld, Executive Office on Early Learning; David Lassner, UH System; Karen Lee, Hawaiʻi P–20 Partnerships for Education, Kathryn Matayoshi, Hawaiʻi State Department of Education; John La Forgia, Hawaiʻi Pacific Health; Governor Neil Abercrombie; Rep. Roy Takumi; and John Komeiji, Hawaiian TelCom at the 55 by ’25 initiative launch. Photo via the Office of the Governor on Flickr

We launched the second phase of Hawaiʻi P-20’s public awareness and action campaign January 28 with a news conference at Honolulu Community College. 55 by ’25 aims to have 55 percent of working age adults holding two to four-year college degrees by the year 2025. We hope this campaign raises awareness and creates urgency about the need for students to pursue education beyond high school or Hawaiʻi will not be competitive in the 21st century.

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Photo via the Office of the Governor on Flickr

In my remarks, I said, “When the state needed the University of Hawaiʻi most during the recent recession, we stepped up, enrolled more students, and increased the graduation rate by 27 percent… and we’re ready to do more!”

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Hawaiʻi P-20′s Karen Lee with Governor Abercrombie. Photo via the Office of the Governor on Flickr

Thanks to all who attended our news conference, with a special thanks to Governor Neil Abercrombie, GG Weisenfeld, Director, Executive Office on Early Learning; Kathryn Matayoshi, Superintendent, Hawaiʻi State Department of Education; John La Forgia, Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer of Hawaiʻi Pacific Health (our platinum sponsor); Karen Lee, Executive Director, Hawaiʻi P-20 Partnerships for Education; and Richard Mizusawa, Associated Students of the University of Hawaiʻi (ASUH).

VIDEO: Educated workforce critical to Hawaiʻi’s future

Kauai Chamber of Commerce reception

bird's eye view of David Lassner speaking at a reception at Kauai Community College

I truly enjoyed meeting members of the Kauaʻi Chamber of Commerce and the Garden Isle community on January 22, 2014. The chamber kindly co-sponsored an after hours reception at Kauaʻi Community College.

David Lassner speaking at Kauai Community College

I had the opportunity to meet most of the guests which included chamber and community members, as well as members of the Friends of Kauaʻi Community College which works closely with the college’s chancellor to build community partners and friendships.

Other attendees included Kauaʻi Chancellor Helen Cox, VP for Community Colleges John Morton, other UH administrators and the Board of Regents.

We were on Kauaʻi for a series of meetings and engagements, including the monthly Board of Regents meeting, which was held on the Kauaʻi campus this month.

bird's eye view of a reception at Kauai Community College

Rotary Club of Honolulu luncheon

shaking hands at the Rotary Club meeting

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting members of the Rotary Club of Honolulu at a luncheon at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on January 14th. It was my privilege to speak to the distinguished group about a wide range of issues, including my role as interim president, what the Board of Regents is expecting from me and the next permanent president, the search for the next UH president and what I envision in the coming months and years for one of the state’s most important institutions.

I also took some tough yet insightful questions from the group about the Cancer Center, the UH presidential search and funding.

Thank you to the Rotary Club of Honolulu, President Dave Shanahan, Haumea Ho, Alice Tucker and many others for the warm welcome and their interest in our University of Hawaiʻi.

Below is video of the talk I gave, and you can go to UH News for video of the question and answer session.