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UH Mānoa begins two-year initiative to become a Native Hawaiian place of learning

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UH Mānoa students, faculty and staff work in loʻi at UH Mānoa. PC: UH Mānoa

The team tasked with helping advance the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa as a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning has officially launched a two-year initiative immersing a diverse range of students and employees in Native Hawaiian values and traditions.

This week, more than 10 units at UH Mānoa are engaging in culturally-based activities part of a multi-step process to achieve goals articulated in the university’s strategic plan.  

“There are three goals in the Native Hawaiian Place of Learning area of the strategic plan,” said Kaiwipunikauikawēkiu Punihei Lipe, director of the Native Hawaiian Place of Learning Advancement Office (NHPoL AO), who is leading the initiative. “The one we are focusing on right now is that 100% of schools and colleges and other similar nonacademic units will create five-year strategic plans focusing on how their units can take steps toward becoming a Native Hawaiian place of learning in four specific focus areas.”


The four focus areas, which come from the 2012 Ke Au Hou Report and the 2016 Ka Ho‘okō Kuleana Report and Action Plans, include:

  • Native Hawaiian Student Success: Native Hawaiian students are holistically supported from recruitment through post-graduation. Best practices are gleaned from efforts to support Native Hawaiian students and are applied to student success strategies for all students across the campus.
  • Staff and Faculty Development: Native Hawaiian staff and faculty are holistically supported from recruitment through promotion and leadership development in every unit across the campus. All staff and faculty at UH Mānoa are more knowledgeable and culturally rooted in Mānoa and Hawaiʻi.
  • Native Hawaiian Environments: UH Mānoa is a physical, cultural, spiritual and interactive environment that exemplifies the values of ʻohana and community, mālama ‘āina and kuleana, thereby perpetuating Native Hawaiian values, culture, language, traditions and customs.
  • Native Hawaiian Community Engagement: UH Mānoa and Native Hawaiian communities are consistently connected and engaged in order that there can be reciprocal teaching and learning for positive impact throughout Hawaiʻi.

A total of 13 units comprise the first cohort of UH Mānoa units, called “Cohort Kumukahi,” that will engage in an initial two-year process with the NHPoL AO. These units include:

  • UH Cancer Center
  • College of Arts, Languages and Letters (CALL)
  • College of Engineering (CoE)
  • College of Social Sciences (CSS)
  • Division of Student Success (DSS)
  • Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB)
  • Institute for Astronomy (IfA)
  • John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM)
  • Nancy Atmospera-Walch School of Nursing (NAWSON)
  • Office of Communications
  • Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health
  • Hawaiʻi Sea Grant
  • School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST)

Karen Jolly, a history professor at UH Mānoa, expressed her enthusiasm for incorporating Indigenous perspectives into her curriculum. 


“I want to be able to do that, as well, to integrate Native Hawaiian ways of thinking and being and doing into my classroom and research,” Jolly said. 

This initiative is part of UH Mānoa’s broader strategic plan that incorporates Native Hawaiian values and is culturally rooted to Hawaiʻi.


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