East Hawaii News

UH-Hilo Faculty Honored at Spring Commencement

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Four members of the University of Hawaii at Hilo faculty were among those honored last weekend during the university’s spring commencement ceremony.

“Teaching is one of the most significant components of any university,” Chancellor Don Straney said in a statement. “The awards presented to these faculty members are a recognition of outstanding accomplishments in teaching.”

Señora Monica Minnitt, an instructor in Spanish, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Those who nominated Minnitt described her as “an extraordinary, exceptional, talented and gifted educator,” who manages to challenge her students academically and creates a creative and nurturing environment.


The Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award was presented to Alice Davis, associate professor of nursing.

Davis’ nominators said she is someone who cares “professionally and personally” for her students, who is filled with passion for the field of nursing and always makes herself available for private tutoring.

Receiving the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching was Lisa Tostenson, assistant professor of nursing.


Tortenson’s nomination said she has a “passion for nursing,” and her teaching incorporates humor and real-life situations to skillfully guide her students toward critical thinking assessments.

Jacquelyn Pualani Johnson, professor of drama, was awarded the 2014 Chancellor’s Certificate of Recognition.

The award recognizes faculty and staff whose accomplishments and contributions exemplify the vision of UH-Hilo to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead in their personal and professional lives.


Straney said that certainly applies to Johnson, who is well known for her efforts in the performing arts.

“Jackie is a leading exemplar of what our faculty and staff do best,” he said. “She is a person of remarkable achievement — both on our campus and in the local community — with her teaching, research, and community outreach.

“Most importantly to the mission of UH-Hilo, Jackie is an exceptional teacher, creating scholars and performers of her students, who go on to have successful careers of great impact on our communities, our island, and our state,” he said.

Neil “Dutch” Kuyper, the head of Parker Ranch, presented the keynote speech at Saturday’s graduation during which a total of 724 degrees and certificates were awarded, along with 28 post-graduate honors.

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