The University of Hawaii at Hilo honored faculty and staff members with excellence in teaching and recognition awards during this year’s spring commencement on May 11.
Rayna Morel, instructor of communication, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Morel was described by one nominator as a teacher who engages students using clever and relevant examples that make abstract concepts more tangible and meaningful to them.
The Board of Regents Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Kalena Silva, professor and former director of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikolani College of Hawaiian Language. A key member of the team that made the college a reality, Silva is described as a teacher first and foremost. He helps students learn through studies of historical language resources, how to understand the relevance of those materials, relate that understanding to contemporary times, and understand the importance of viewing Hawaiian as a living, evolving language.
Faith Mishina, assistant professor of Spanish, received the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. She is described as a committed teacher who helps students learn another language by using it as a window into the larger world of global opportunities.
Norman Arancon, assistant professor of horticulture, received the Chancellor’s Special Recognition Award for Contribution to Campus and Community.
Arancon has pioneered research in the utilization of earthworm-worked soil amendment, referred to as vermicomposts, which has benefited Hawaii’s agriculture industry and local communities. Students in his courses grow produce on campus that are given to students in residence halls and sold at a student-organized farmer’s market.