Monday, August 25, 2014

Resiliency: Why It’s Important

Just within the last month we have seen misfortune through natural disasters: Here in our own back yard our neighbors in Puna are still recovering from the effects of tropical storm Iselle, and in Hiroshima, Japan, the heavy rain, which caused the avalanche burying people alive, continues. These kinds of situations are certainly cause for us to pause, reflect, assess and act.
This is where I center on the word resiliency. Are our systems and infrastructures in the community resilient — now and for future generations? And I’m not only referring to our ability to bounce back from natural disasters. It includes challenges related to food safety, energy production, housing and more.
Like all island communities, we in Hawai‘i should be keenly attune to the connection between environmental sustainability and economic growth. We as community members have the opportunity to join together, building a better community for ourselves, and in that process, perhaps making an impact on a global scale.
Fulbright student Aka Assoumou of HPU, with Cultural Affairs Officer
Katherine Arcieri (photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of State)
Here at Hawai‘i Pacific University we are consciously working to influence change in the area of sustainability and global leadership and strive to do more. The Oceanic Institute of HPU scientists are credited with producing the world’s first specific, pathogen-free population of Pacific White Shrimp, aiding food security in Asian communities. Representing the student body, Aka Assoumou, a Fulbright student from the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, had the distinct honor to be one of 50 students chosen nationally to attend the Summer Institute of Sustainability and Energy at the University of Illinois, Chicago, from Aug. 6-20. We are looking forward to hearing from Aka, who this fall is entering his second year in the Master of Arts in Global Leadership and Sustainable Development program, about the innovative and inspiring concepts he learned and conversations he engaged in at the institute.                 
Continuing in our quest to build a stronger community for Hawai‘i’s future, we announced last week the establishment of a Presidential Lecture Series on Global Leadership and Sustainability, which will launch in conjunction with HPU’s 50thanniversary in 2015. We would like to acknowledge Hawaiian Electric Industries for its generous contribution in support of this program.
The HPU Lecture Series will bring nationally and internationally recognized speakers to lead conversations on a range of resiliency topics. The lectures, which will be free and open to the public, will serve as the platform to bring together students, educators, community leaders, innovators and thought leaders.
HPU has been part of the Hawai‘i community for nearly 50 years and is committed to being part of it for the next 50 years and more. With an overarching objective to bring positive benefit to Hawai‘i and beyond, we are excited to launch this new lecture series.
Geoffrey Bannister

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Preparing for HPU's Next 50 Years

A recent article on the financial picture at Hawaii Pacific University painted a rather grimmer picture than I believe the reality calls for. We believe the article erred in equating the university’s budget balancing with its efforts to ensure the continued long-term financial sustainability of HPU.

It is true that HPU’s part-time enrollments have decreased after the 2008-09 financial crisis and subsequent military sequestrations, as enrollments did across many universities in the nation, including in Hawaii.  It is true we have been steadily adjusting our operational budgets to fit that new reality.  However, those challenges were not something new or sudden. Rather, they were something that we addressed earlier this summer and were well-documented to the media. It is part of the practical reality that a private, non-profit university, while not a business, must operate like one. 

All told, while we faced certain challenges in balancing our operating budget for last year and this one, our financial health is favorable and our full-time undergraduate and graduate enrollments have been steady over the last three years.  Our provisional financial results for FY 2014 (which ended June 30, 2014) show we are less than two-tenths of one percent away from a balanced budget. We are also grateful to our far-sighted Board of Trustees that allowed us to make modest use of resources to aid the operational budget transition and to pave the way for new investments in the future. Our current reserves continue to exceed $65 million in addition to our physical plant assets, which provides stability for a mid-sized private university in this era and is a strong tribute to the financial acumen and management skills of my predecessors. We still have many needs and greater ambitions that will require additional resources, mainly from private gifts and grants from community members who also believe in our vision and see how becoming among the top 10 U.S. western regional private universities will benefit the state.

By September of 2015, when HPU is celebrating its 50th anniversary, we expect to have the Aloha Tower Marketplace open for students, families and community, to have added a research feedmill on the Big Island, and to be celebrating 50 years of accomplishments together with our 17,000 alumni who live in Hawaiʻi.  We look forward to welcoming our new class of students in the coming weeks. They are joining the university during a transformational time and will be among the first group of students that will realize the benefits of our recent investments in the university’s future.

Geoffrey Bannister