UH President David McClain emphasizes a commitment to Hawai‘i as the university looks toward the future

McClain honors faculty and staff for their contributions to the university's success in his annual Convocation remarks

University of Hawaiʻi
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-8109
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Sep 10, 2008

HONOLULU — Speaking at the University of Hawaiʻi‘s 2008 Convocation awards ceremony held yesterday at Kennedy Theatre on the UH Mānoa campus, UH President David McClain emphasized the commitment of the University of Hawaiʻi to increasing the educational capital of the state of Hawaiʻi, in order to improve the social, economic and environmental well being of current and future generations. McClain expressed his appreciation to the faculty and staff being recognized at the Convocation awards ceremony for their role in helping the university achieve this mission.

More than 40 faculty and staff from the university‘s 10 campuses across the state were presented with various awards at the event in recognition of their excellence in teaching, research and community service.

"You are our shining stars, the truly excellent among us," McClain told those being recognized. Quoting Aristotle, who said "With regard to excellence, it is not enough to know, but we must try to have and use it," McClain stated, "Today‘s honorees know excellence, have excellence, and have used excellence for the benefit of our students, our university and the communities we serve."

McClain outlined the university‘s strategic outcomes through 2015, including increasing the percentage of Hawaiʻi high school graduates entering UH, increasing the amount of scholarships and federal financial aid available to students, improving campus facilities and substantially reducing the deferred maintenance backlog, and increasing graduation rates. McClain also announced that he will propose new initiatives later this fall in support of expanding faculty housing and mortgage assistance programs, efforts that will aid in the recruitment and retention of university faculty.

McClain noted that the university‘s commitment to produce more graduates is consistent with the Hawaiʻi P-20 Council goal of having 55 percent of Hawaiʻi‘s working age population holding a college degree by the year 2025. Currently, about 40 percent of Hawaiʻi‘s population has at least a two-year college degree, about the national average, he explained. However, the 25-40 age group has less education than their parents, and this at a time when a number of nations — for example, Canada, Japan, Korea, Sweden, Belgium, and Ireland — have more college graduates among young adults than we do now, and they are projected to have 55 percent of their populations with a college degree by 2025.

"While our progress as a state and a nation has stalled, much of the rest of the world has improved—educating more people to higher levels. So for competitiveness reasons alone, Hawaiʻi has to increase its educational capital, and the University of Hawaiʻi must play a central role in that effort," said McClain.

He reflected on the presidency of Harlan Cleveland, a Rhodes Scholar and NATO ambassador who served as UH‘s eighth president from 1969 to 1974, and who passed away earlier this year. Cleveland led UH through a period of growth and expansion—enrollment and the number of degrees conferred nearly doubled during his tenure, UH Hilo was established as an independent campus, the medical school was increased from two to four years, and the law school was started.

"Harlan Cleveland is said to have located the university‘s position in reputational space as being ʻfive minutes from greatness, and holding.‘ I believe UH can realize the potential implicit in Harlan Cleveland‘s statement," said McClain.

"Today, even as the Hawaiʻi economy slows, I have great hope for our university," McClain said. "Since 2004, we have seen notable increases in operating general funds and in money for capital improvement projects. We have greater financial flexibility due to our more-diversified financial base, with significant revenues now coming from tuition, from our continued and remarkable research prowess, and from a stunningly successful Centennial Campaign."

For the complete transcript of McClain‘s Convocation remarks, visit www.hawaii.edu/about/awards.

For more information, visit: http://www.hawaii.edu/about/awards