Category Archives: Initiatives

Largest private award ever to UH from the Simons Foundation

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L-R: SOEST Dean Brian Taylor, me, Ed DeLong and David Karl.

We were elated to announce the largest private award ever to the University of Hawaiʻi, at a news conference at Snug Harbor on July 16, 2014. The Simons Foundation awarded UH Mānoa professors Edward DeLong and David Karl, both from the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, $40 million to lead the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE). Again, this is the largest private gift UH has ever received.

SCOPE is among the Simons Foundation’s programs in the division of Life Sciences. It aims to further our understanding of the microscopic organisms that inhabit every drop of seawater and how those creatures control the movement and exchange of energy and nutrients, from the surface waters to the deep sea.

Both Ed and David have worked long and hard with the foundation to make this happen. This really demonstrates what is possible when we work together.

This is also an incredible affirmation of the potential of the Hawaiʻi Innovation Initiative.

A lot of people have wondered can we really be serious about building a billion dollar research industry in the state. I think this is an example of how we’ll do it. It isn’t just going to the federal government and cranking out more proposals, but it’s captivating the interests of philanthropists and partners around the country and around the world to build this investment in a research and innovation economy for Hawaiʻi that advances the frontiers of human knowledge.

This award is a vote of confidence in Ed and Dave and in the University of Hawaiʻi. It is not a coincidence that UH is leading a consortium with some of the best research institutions in the country. We’re not just tagging along for the ride. So thank you Ed and Dave, thank you to the Simons organization and to all who have been a part of this.

UH News Video: Largest ever private award to UH funds microbial oceanography research

My remarks from the press conference.

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

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!”

woman and man smiling

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