Chancellor Lui Hokoana – A new vision for University of Hawai‘i Maui College

Chancellor Lui Hokoana
A new vision for University of Hawai‘i Maui College

Since being appointed as Chancellor of University of Hawai‘i Maui College, Lui Hokoana has been working to fill the needs of the Maui community. “My vision for Maui College is to be more aligned to our community. We are trying to rebrand. Our brand is one Maui Nui, one Maui college. To me that means that we pay attention to the needs of the community—I want us to get much closer to our employers so that we can train our students for jobs that they could enter here and raise their families here and care for this community.” Chancellor Hokoana’s focus lies more on providing educational needs for the success of the community rather than construction and building to expand the campus.

To date, University of Hawai‘i Maui College offers three Baccalaureate degrees since moving from being Maui Community College; the first – Applied Business and Information Technology; the second—Engineering Technology; and the third—Sustainable Science Management. Despite the great leaps the school has already made, Chancellor Hokoana recognizes the need for other Baccalaureate degrees to help the community. “There’s a huge need for teachers. We bring in two to three hundred teachers from the mainland. Half of them leave in a year and the second half tend to leave during their second year here. We’re still working to find teachers and we should be looking at the potential to start our own teaching program or get closer to UH Manoa’s program to fill that need. What’s going to happen is that we can already train our own people who already have roots in this community. There’s a lot of work to be done. Every high school I go to, students ask when we will have a teaching program.”

Chancellor Lui Hokoana

One of the successful programs that the college currently has is their nursing program. Since taking over Maui Memorial Hospital three years ago, Kaiser has hired each class of forty graduating nursing students. “They’ve hired over 120 graduated nursing students. Which is amazing—they’re probably making around $60,000 a year with an Associate degree.” Kaiser’s standards, however, normally prefer nursing students that have obtained their BSN—Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Although this program is accessible to UHMC students via distance learning with UH Manoa, Chancellor Hokoana believes it is not enough to help all RN nurses obtain their BSN and knows the program would be successful being on campus utilizing Maui’s employers and community to help build the program.

Despite Maui’s need for the BSN program, the University of Hawai‘i’s Board of Regents is very strict about duplicating programs in their system. This has also made it difficult for UHMC to offer a radiologic technician program on campus since it is already offered at Kapi‘olani Community College. Hopefully, the use of technology will help inspire change. The incorporation of a software called Virdis will allow Maui employers to relay information to UHMC about their workforce needs. The University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents launched this program for Honolulu Community College and UHMC. Chancellor Hokoana hopes that utilizing this tool will show the need for duplication of programs such as nursing, teaching, and rad-tech on our island campus. Aside from this, the software will also inform the school of training needs and required skillsets for specific job positions. This information will help the school develop programs to assist the community with training and certification to become workforce ready and meet the immediate job needs. The first partner that will be utilizing this program is Maui Health Systems.

Chancellor Lui Hokoana with Amy Agbayani and Dr. Christine Quemel with Filipino students of UHMC.

The health care industry on Maui is not the only employer in need. Interestingly, there has been a demand for HVAC Certification programs from hotel employers to meet the needs of Maui’s tourism industry. To meet this, the college has developed non-credit quick training programs. The first portion provides certification, then coursework and hands-on work for preparation and job-site training. Programs such as this has been UHMC’s unique initiative of gaining interest of the 50-percent of graduating high school students that do not move on to higher education. Chancellor Hokoana’s passion in education to further individuals and students of the community is evident in his push to reach out to those whose first choice would not normally be college.

Chancellor Lui Hokoana is half Filipino and half Hawaiian. He laughs while re-telling the story of how his grandfather arrived here on Maui. “My grandfather is from Ilocos Norte. He came to Hawai‘i in 1918. He arrived on Maui as a stowaway. He jumped off the the boat when it reached Hāna, met my full-Hawaiian grandmother and they fell in love. I have these strong Filipino roots from that side.” His large family grew up modestly. “My mom guys grew up poor and part of the value in education comes from that background.” He recognizes his mom’s desire for wanting more for them by having access to education. In terms of cultural support, he announced that the Pamantasan program that has been well-received by Filipino students of the University of Hawai‘i system will be expanding to Maui. With the help of State Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran (Central Maui) and State Representative Justin Woodson (Kahului), funds were garnered to create two counselor positions to help address the needs of Filipino students. “We’re very thankful. I’m excited that we’re going to have someone to focus on Filipino students. We want students to come as they are with their values and culture because it strengthens the campus. They make this a better place.” Chancellor Hokoana hopes that offering cultural classes such as courses in the Tagalog language will help students identify who they are and learn about themselves.

Vanessa Joy Domingo is a graduate of Maui High School and is currently attending University of Hawai‘i Maui College. She is employed with Coldwell Banker – Wailea Village as a Realtor and is the 2018 Miss Maui Filipina. When she has free time, she loves to go fishing, go to the gym and practice aerial silks. She volunteers her time throughout the community with the Maui Filipino Community Council, Binhi at Ani, Read Aloud America, and Maui High School Foundation. She recently married Mark Domingo and enjoyed their honeymoon aboard a cruise ship to Mexico. She has decided that cruise ships are probably one of the best ways to travel since food is accessible 24/7.