Although classes resumed in the second week of January after winter break, faculty, staff and students began preparing for this spring semester months and weeks before they returned to campus.
Early and continuing preparation is a key to improving student and higher education performance. Faculty and lecturers prepared lesson plans and labs in advance of the semester's start, and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Alvin Tagomori oriented more than 138 new students to ease their entry into the college's courses, programs, services and facilities.
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs John McKee and his staff oriented new faculty and lecturers, and emphasized learning outcomes and assessing and validating student learning.
Supporting student and faculty preparation are the professional staff and student assistants behind the scenes. They deserve to be acknowledged for their leadership in processing student admissions, financial aid, career and academic advisement, registration and housing services for yet another semester of record enrollments.
The University of Hawaii Maui College has actually grown by 53 percent over the last five years to more than 4,300 students thus far this spring.
Our Native Hawaiian student population rose to more than 1,400, or about 32 percent of our student body. Additionally, our business and personnel offices assure that all supplies, equipment and college staff are readied to begin the year . . . especially challenging with our continuing enrollment growth.
On our international fronts, eight faculty members have been sponsored by Chinese universities to teach and pave the way for building affiliations with such institutions as Shanghai Normal University and Beijing Union University. In the Philippines, UH-MC continues to work with Mariano Marcos State University to eventually support Filipino students attending classes on Maui.
Finally, our custodial and groundskeeping staff members prepare the classrooms, offices, shops, labs and overall campus for learning.
Improvements on all education-related fronts result from early and continuing identification of needs, potential problems and opportunities for refining our approach to offering and broadening higher education for our students and community.
Also improved this semester is the Wellness Center located on the first floor of the Pilina Student Life Center. The Wellness Center is not a traditional gym with weights and exercise machines. Instead, it offers interactive classes like Zumba, kickboxing and yoga. The center is open to the general public as well as our student body for a modest monthly fee.
Student Life Coordinator Francine Ching designed the grand opening, advertised the wellness classes and organized an event with culinary, nursing and dental assisting and dental hygiene faculty and students. Her preparation and faculty collaboration featured culinary student-served healthy cuisine, instructor-led free class demonstrations, dental students offering oral care prevention kits and nursing student blood pressure checks.
If you would like to see the class schedule, please visit www.uhmcwellness.wordpress.com/about/ or contact the Office of Student Life at 984-3434.
The construction of the college's new science building is well under way. This project is slated for completion in 2012 and will incorporate the latest in sustainable design elements and technologies.
The building, named 'Ike Le'a, or "See Clearly," is designed to reflect the purpose of the facility in preparing students for discovery of the unknown.
The Hawaiians who first populated the archipelago "discovered" new plants, birds, fish and insects and gave them names, as they observed and developed an understanding of the habitats of land, ocean and sky.
'Ike Le'a and the UH-MC faculty will help students prepare to do the same.
* Clyde Sakamoto is chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. Ka'ana Mana'o, which means "sharing thoughts," is scheduled to appear on the fourth Sunday of each month. It is penned by UH Maui College staff and is intended to provide the community of Maui County information about opportunities available through the college at its Kahului campus and its education centers.