Four honored with chancellor’s year-end awards

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
Posted: May 19, 2009

Four individuals were honored for their contributions to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo during the annual End of the Year Celebration & Recognition Ceremony held recently in UCB.

Erlinda Walker received the Outstanding University Support Staff Award which recognizes support service employees in the secretarial, clerical, technical or paraprofessional categories who make significant contributions to the University.

Walker has worked in the Financial Aid Office since June 1998, with primary responsibility for the administration of all student financial aid programs. Over the past six years, her workload has increased by over 430 percent as the amount of student loans processed each year soared from $3 million to $16 million. This year alone saw Walker process nearly 3,400 loans.

She has also been credited with saving students more than $306,000 in loan fees by expediting the processing of loans before the more than 60 lenders UH Hilo works with began to re-institute origination fees last year. At the same time, Walker has worked with graduating students to slash the University‘s institutional student default rate, which has fallen from 7.9 percent in 2003 to 3.2 percent this year.

The Award for Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activities went to Physics and Astronomy Professor and Department Chair Dr. Phillipe Binder. The award is presented to a tenure-track faculty or full-time BOR classified professional staff member for outstanding achievement in scholarly and/or creative endeavors.

Described by his colleagues as "a teaching workhorse" and "the intellectual heart of his department," Binder has published over 50 research papers and some 15 educational notes and comments while teaching a combination of lower- and upper-division physics lectures and labs. He has vigorously included undergraduate co-workers in his research, resulting in six of them publishing papers as co-authors, with four appearing in the prestigious Physical Review.

Binder‘s work on Chaos, a unique field in physics, produced two papers on the relevance of Chaos in the field of astronomy, which he co-published with a former UH Hilo student during the past academic year, one of which appeared in the renowned Astrophysics Journal. He also authored a trio of short papers while on sabbatical. "Frustration in Complexity" and "Reflections on a Wall of Light" appeared in the journal Science on Physics, while "Philosophy on Science" was published in the journal Nature.

Wesley Tanoue, an information technology specialist in the Office of Technology Distance Learning, was honored with the Professional Staff Award. The award recognizes a faculty/professional staff member who has made major professional contributions to their unit, to the University as a whole, and has made a positive impact on the welfare of students and colleagues.

Tanoue provides personal support and troubleshooting for office computers in addition to a wide range of software applications. He played a key and instrumental role in the installation of over 20 different Internet security cameras in the dorms, Student Life Center and around the main campus. Tanoue has also become one of the go-to people for servicing the hardwired hot spots and battery powered remote on the new Student Life Center‘s complex electronic lock system (SALTO).

The Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation was presented to Assistant Computer Science Professor Keith Edwards. The award recognizes creativity in teaching, scholarship, and artistic production at UH Hilo.

Edwards obtained a grant from the 2008 Higher Education — HP Technology Grant Initiative in a highly competitive process that included over 370 applications. The award brought over $80,000 worth of computer equipment and software to the Computer Science Department, including 21 HP Compaq Notebook/Tablet PC‘s and peripheral equipment.

The Tablet PCs were used this past academic year in Edward‘s software engineering class where students developed applications for the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV). The new system to be used this summer by volcanology students and trainees from developing nations will allow volcanologists to collect more accurate data, share those findings in the field, and transmit the data to a database with fewer errors.