Final Community AD Session Held Tuesday
The job of selecting the next Athletic Director at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo is now squarely in the hands of school Chancellor Donald Straney.
Patrick Guillen, the second of two finalists for the open AD position at UH-Hilo, met with members of the community, largely comprised of school staff and coaches, on Tuesday at UCB 127. Four days earlier, finalist Joshua Doody had his turn in front of a similar crowd. He is the current AD at Notre Dame de Namur University.
Those who attended both sessions saw immediate similarities and differences with the two candidates. Both men come from programs that have struggled with receiving adequate funding, something UH-Hilo is currently facing with a $2.8 million dollar budget that is largely spent on travel. They also agree that rebuilding consistent relationships within the community is vital to growing the athletic department.
When it comes to differences, it starts simply by watching each person’s speaking style. Doody, rarely strayed from the podium and microphone placed in front of him, giving carefully constructed views on his vision of the program, based on the research he’s already done as a fellow conference member.
Guillen, on the other hand, rarely ever stood behind the podium and microphone, walking side-to-side around the front of the room as he answered questions and explained his vision and background, which he recited out of notes he constructed on a sheet of paper.
Formerly the athletic director of Cal State University-Dominguez Hills, Guillen’s story is all about overcoming obstacles, a challenge that first started with the loss of his father at the age of two. He was raised by a single mother and a hanai family in his hometown of Carson, Calif. He was the first one in his family’s generation to go to college.
Figuring out how to work through challenges is something he believes was one of his strengths at Dominguez Hills. His former school holds the distinction of being the lowest funded athletic department in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
“The funding here is very similar to what I had at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Fortunately, we were able to work together to improve facilities. We were able to reach out to the community and build some very important and key relationships, and we started special events to raise funds for scholarships,” said Guillen, who also said that he increased his former school’s endowment from $17,000 to nearly $600,000.
Guillen said he has been to the islands for about 30 years, a few months of that time as a singer shortly after an abruptly-halted collegiate baseball career. In that time, he has gained contacts in the local community, including a familiar name in former Vulcans basketball coach Jimmy Yagi, a constant symbol and reminder of a time when UH-Hilo athletics, especially basketball, was not only successful, but popular in the community.
“I keep hearing about the ‘old days’ here at UH-Hilo. Well, you know what, let’s go out and reconnect the present with the past. The relationships that really aren’t in place anymore? Let’s reach out and renew those relationships. Let’s bring some of these people and some of these businesses back to the athletic department,” Guillen stated.
Those relationships will be vital in raising awareness and money for a program that he believes needs another $600,000 in funding to adequately support the department. Part of that will need to come from strong community support.
“I want to be able to come in and build a foundation of trust and respect in this community,” Guillen said.
Academically, he talked about instituting a mandatory study hall for incoming student athletes at UH-Hilo. Guillen said that the only way students could eliminate having to attend study hall was by achieving a specific academic benchmark.
Like Friday’s session with Doody, individuals in attendance were given evaluation sheets and graded Guillen on how he answered questions on topics ranging from Title IX and academic and athletic support.
Straney will decide who the next AD will be. In a statement to Big Island Now, he said, “We are reviewing written comments we received from people who met with the candidates and I will be checking references before making a decision.”