University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

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University of Hawaiʻi—Hilo
UH Hilo Logo.png
Former name
Hilo Center at Lyman Hall (1945 - 1950)
University of Hawai'i Hilo Branch (1950-1970)
MottoPulelo haʻaheo ke ahi a nā lehua aʻo Hilo
Motto in English
The flame of Hilo's lehua blossoms leaps triumphantly with pride
TypePublic university
Established1945; 76 years ago (1945)
Parent institution
University of Hawaiʻi system
Academic affiliations
Endowment$180 million[1]
ChancellorBonnie D. Irwin
PresidentDavid Lassner
Academic staff
210 (2016) [2]
Students3,539 (Fall 2019) [3]
Location, ,
United States

19°41′59″N 155°04′54″W / 19.6996°N 155.0816°W / 19.6996; -155.0816Coordinates: 19°41′59″N 155°04′54″W / 19.6996°N 155.0816°W / 19.6996; -155.0816
Campusrural, 755 acres (3.1 km2)
ColorsRed and Black[4]
AthleticsNCAA Division IIPacWest
University of Hawaii at Hilo

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo (UH Hilo) is a public university in Hilo, Hawaiʻi.[5] It is one of ten general campuses of the University of Hawaiʻi system. It was founded as Hilo Center at Lyman Hall of the Hilo Boys School in 1945. In 1970 it was reorganized by an act of the Hawaiʻi State Legislature.

The university has been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges since 1976.[6] It offers thirty-three undergraduate and three graduate degree programs and has about 3000 students; most students are residents of Hawaiʻi but many are international students.


Although post-high school non-credit courses had been offered in Hilo as early as 1945, under the University of Hawai'i (at Mānoa)'s Adult Education Services, the university was established as Hilo Center at Lyman Hall of the Hilo Boys School. After an attempt to close the school in 1951 by Governor Oren E. Long, Big Island residents, local legislators, and the UH Alumni Association led efforts to save its only college to then establish the University of Hawai'i Hilo Branch as an two-year campus of the University.[7]

In 1955, the branch moved to its present location on a thirty-acre parcel of land with an enlarged faculty to support its growing student population.

In 1964, University of Hawai'i president Thomas Hamilton released a feasibility study on creating a statewide system of community colleges operating as part of the University. The study recommended that the Hilo Branch and the Hawaii Technical School to create a community college in Hilo. However, due to resistance from Big Island legislators, Hawaii Technical School became Hawaii Community College with oversight from the Hawaii Department of Education. Both Hawaii Community College and the Hilo Branch, however, would share the same facilities until 1984.[7]

In 1970, University of Hawai'i president Harlan Cleveland led efforts to reorganize the Hilo Branch by renaming the campus to Hilo College and merged with Hawaii Community College. Collectively they were known as the University of Hawai'i at Hilo with Paul Miwa as its first chancellor.

Amid a failed plan to create a new state college system, of which the UH Hilo would be its 'flagship', Hawai'i Community College was separated from university in 1990. In the 1990s, the former branch campus of the University of Hawai'i (at Mānoa) would emphasize liberal arts, education, agriculture, and vocational programs.[7]


Academic rankings
THE/WSJ[8] 601-800
U.S. News & World Report[9] 96-127
Master's University class
Washington Monthly[10] 166

The university specializes in marine science, volcanology, astronomy, and Hawaiian studies. The Masters of Arts program in Hawaiian Language and Literature was the first in the United States to focus on an indigenous language.[11]



The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo offers BA, BBA, BS, and BSN degrees in addition to certificates. Students can also choose minors in some programs.


Vulcans banner

Until 1994 UH Hilo belonged to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics or NAIA. Since 1992, it has been a member of the NCAA Division II Pacific West Conference. It fields teams in baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball. The sports teams nickname is the Vulcans.[12]


Shared with UH West Oʻahu 1976–1997.

  • Bonnie D. Irwin (2019-present)
  • Marcia Sakai (Interim, 2017-2019)
  • Donald O. Straney (2010–2017)
  • Rose Tseng (1998–2010)
  • Kenneth Perrin (1993–1997)
  • Edward J. Kormondy (1986–1993)
  • Edwin Mookini (1975–1978)
  • Paul Miwa (1970–?)

Argument for separation[]

There has been a growing movement throughout the last decade[when?] to separate the Hilo campus from the University of Hawaiʻi system, creating a "Hawaiʻi State University". Supporters of the separation argue that the growing Hilo campus is "shortchanged" by its sister campus in Mānoa and that being independent of the system would allow the college to grow faster, better serve the community, and draw in more money from independent sources. Opponents argue that the state is too small for competing university systems and that financial divisions between Mānoa and Hilo are fair, given that Mānoa places emphasis on research and Hilo places emphasis on teaching. There are also concerns that this movement will hurt relationships between the Hilo campus and the rest of the University of Hawaiʻi system.

A bill was introduced in the 2005 session of the House of Representatives of the Hawaiʻi State Legislature to draft legislation to spin off the Hilo campus as the independent Hawaiʻi State University. The bill was approved by the House Higher Education Committee but no hearing on the bill was planned by the House Finance Committee, effectively killing it. [13]

Points of interest at UH Hilo[]

University Park[]

Main Campus[]

  • University Classroom Building (UCB)
  • Marine Science Building (MSB)
  • Sciences & Technology Building (STB)
  • Edith Kanakaʻole Hall (EKH)
  • Wentworth Hall
  • Campus Center
  • Student Life Center & Pool
  • Edwin H. Mookini Library & Media Center
  • UH Hilo Student Services Building
  • UH Hilo New Gymnasium
  • UH Hilo Performing Arts Center[14]


See also[]


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2015-04-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Welcome to the IRAO - Data Access Portal". Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  3. ^ "UH Hilo at a Glance". Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  4. ^ "UH Hilo Vulcan Athletics Quick Facts page". Archived from the original on 2012-03-07. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  5. ^ "Hilo CDP, Hawaii Archived 2011-11-24 at the Wayback Machine." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 21, 2009.
  6. ^ Statement of Accreditation Status: University of Hawaii at Hilo. WASC Senior College and University Commission. Accessed April 2015.
  7. ^ Jump up to: a b c Kamins, Robert M. (1998). Mālamalama : a history of the University of Hawai'i. Robert E. Potter, University of Hawaii. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 0-585-32644-4. OCLC 45843003.
  8. ^ "Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings 2021". The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  9. ^ "Best Colleges 2021: Regional Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  10. ^ "2020 Rankings -- Masters Universities". Washington Monthly. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  11. ^ "KHUOK Home - Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani". Kualono.
  12. ^ "The University of Hawaii at Hilo". Archived from the original on 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2006-08-14.
  13. ^ "Clamor increases to spin off UH-Hilo". The Honolulu Advertiser.
  14. ^ "UH Hilo Main Campus map" (PDF). Retrieved 8 January 2019.

External links[]

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