Welcoming Our Members to Fall 2023

Aloha UHPA Members:

Welcome back! I hope you all enjoyed a well-deserved summer break and are ready for the fall semester.

Our Hearts Go Out For Maui

I’m sure the Maui wildfires are top of mind for many of you. Over the past three weeks, we have seen the tremendous devastation to Lahaina and cannot help but feel a deep sense of loss. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones or have suddenly become houseless as a result of being displaced or because their homes have been burnt to the ground.

Crises like these stir a range of emotions. We have witnessed expressions of sorrow, despair, anger, and blame. It is no doubt a trying time for everyone. But crises can also bring out the best in people.

Supporting Our Maui ‘Ohana Affected By The Fires

When we learned about UH Maui College faculty who were impacted by the fire, the UHPA wanted to offer support. Without hesitation, the executive committee of the UHPA board of directors unanimously voted in favor of providing support for them. I’m pleased to let you know that UH, through the UH Foundation, partnered with UHPA to support the impacted faculty members.

Michael Young

It is this kind of lōkahi that is vitally needed now as those on Maui start their journey toward recovery. We were able to provide financial support for Michael Young, an instructor and apprentice program coordinator, who offers UH Maui College students a range of on-the-job training options to prepare them for meaningful careers, from architecture to culinary, from healthcare to construction trades. He received the 2021 Volunteer Award from Habitat for Humanity Maui for leading students in helping renovate substandard housing to address homelessness in Lahaina. We are glad we are able to support Young, who has invested so much into Maui and Valley Isle youth. 

Velma Panlasigui

We were also able to provide financial support for Velma Panlasigui, who attended Lahainaluna High School, UH Maui College, and UH-Mānoa, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in speech. She was able to return to her home island and give back to the Maui community as the coordinator and student advisor for the UH-Mānoa outreach program, serving Maui students in distance degree programs.

Laureen Ampong Kodani

UHPA and the UH Foundation were also able to provide financial assistance to Laureen Ampong Kodani, assistant professor and educational, communications and technology developer for instructional design at UH Maui College. Kodani has been a part of the UH Maui College ‘ohana for more than a decade, starting as a lecturer before being named to her current position. Kodani received degrees in accounting as well as applied business and technology from UH Maui College before earning a master’s degree in education focusing on educational technology from UH-Mānoa. 

Happy To Have Helped

These faculty have contributed so much to Maui and the next generation of leaders. UHPA is glad to have a small role in helping them through this challenging time. While many of us have not had time to reflect on the tragic events and process all that has happened, we know that aloha shines through in the darkest moments. 

Join Us and Help All Faculty

As always, UHPA is committed to helping all of our faculty and empowering them so they can remain true to their calling for conducting research, instructing, supporting students, and serving the community. Please consider joining our ‘ohana and letting other faculty know about the UHPA. There is power in unity. Now is the time to embrace others and welcome them.


Christian L. Fern 

Aloha Kekahi I Kekahi

There are no words that can describe the devastation, loss, and tragedy that occurred in Lahaina, Maui.  The incident has impacted so many families who have lost so much, not to mention the loss of life. As an island state, we are all connected and feel the loss either personally or emotionally.


UHPA was informed that three of its Lahaina members have been significantly impacted by the incident and unfortunately lost their homes or were displaced.  As we pray for those we lost and for the victims of this unfortunate tragedy, the UHPA Executive Committee authorized UHPA Executive Director Christian Fern to withdraw funds from the UHPA Emergency Relief Fund to help these three members. UHPA established this emergency fund after Hurricane Iwa hit the islands to help faculty members impacted by disasters.  In addition, the American Federation of Teachers, the second largest teacher’s labor organization in America, through its President Randi Weingarten, generously donated $10,000 to help UHPA members who were adversely impacted by the incident.  

With the combined resources of the UHPA Emergency Relief Fund, the AFT donation, and the UH Foundation, $10,000 checks were distributed to each of the three UHPA faculty members on August 23, 2023 at UH Maui College to help kick-start their recovery efforts.

From left to right: UHMC Chancellor Lui Hokoana, UHPA Executive Director Christian Fern, UHMC Staff Member Mike Asami, UHMC Staff Member Dwight Kalua , UHPA Faculty Member Michael Young, UHPA Faculty Member Velma Panlasigui, UH Foundation Associate Vice President Karla Zarate-Ramirez. Missing: UHPA Faculty Member Laureen Kodani.

It’s Only A Start

While the $10,000 donation is miniscule to the financial challenges ahead for these three UHPA Faculty Members, any amount of support and donations are going to help ease the burden and stress these members are going to face in the long road of recovery.

Organizations You Can Support

If you are interested in making a donation to help support those impacted, UHPA recommends the following vetted nonprofit organizations:

UH Foundation’s Help Maui

The University of Hawaiʻi is uniquely positioned to respond quickly in emergencies affecting our students, faculty, and staff.  Visit here to make a donation to directly support impacted faculty and staff.  

Hawaii Community Foundation Maui Strong Fund

HCF is collaborating with state and county leaders, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and philanthropists to identify evolving priorities for Maui communities impacted by the fire. Visit Maui Strong’s website to make a donation. 

Maui United Way

Maui United Way provides direct relief to families and nonprofit organizations. Visit the Maui United Way website.

The Salvation Army

As the fires continue to upend lives on Maui, the Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division is quickly responding with food, shelter, emotional and spiritual care, and other critical services. Visit the Salvation Army website.

In Solidarity We Stand.

Political Action Fund Notice

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) has an active Political Endorsement Committee that has participated in state & federal elections through political endorsements, contributions to candidates and independent expenditures on behalf of our endorsed candidates. The UHPA Board of Directors has taken action to allocate from the dues of all UHPA Active members an amount of $5.00 a month to be placed in a Political Action Fund. The Fund will be subject to the accounting requirements and used for purposes consistent with the Hawaii State Election and Federal Election laws.

Our policy allows Active members of UHPA to object to the $5.00 per month allocation to the Political Action Fund. This will not lower their total dues, but it will not add to the total amount of funds allocated for partisan political purposes with respect to candidate endorsements and contributions. If an Active member chooses to object to this funding, they will not be allowed to vote on any recommendation for candidate endorsements made by the Board of Directors.

The request to withhold funding from the Political Action account must be made each year. If you do not wish to contribute to the “candidate endorsement” fund for fiscal year 2023-2024, then you must sign, date, and return an UHPA Allocation Objection Form by September 29, 2023.

The UHPA Board of Directors has taken this action in response to the strong feelings held by some members that the union should not participate in making candidate endorsements or political contributions. However, we believe it is essential for a public sector union to maintain a political presence since the fundamental work of our bargaining with the State of Hawaii is ultimately subject to legislative approval.

Hearts Going Out For Our UH Maui Ohana

This is a difficult time for all of us in Hawai‘i. It has been hard to watch the devastation from the wildfires occurring in Lahaina and other parts of Maui and not be moved with compassion and sadness.

Things to Consider Before A Housing Move

Our partners at HomeStreet Bank submitted the below article which contains useful information for our members. Follow this UHPA Membership Only link to access your UHPA HomeStreet Bank Benefits.

There’s no place like home.

It’s your sanctuary, your place of rest, your family’s stomping grounds. Finding and settling into the perfect home brings such a rewarding feeling, but let’s be honest: The process leading up to it is no cakewalk. There’s a lot that goes into buying a home, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a stressful experience. With the right knowledge and preparation, you can ensure the whole process goes off without a hitch. If you’re planning a move soon, be sure to consider the following things:

The Neighborhood

Before you even start looking at houses, think about the area where you want to live. Location is the one thing you can’t change, so this needs to be determined up front. Do you have kiddos? Is walkability important? How about the school district? Even if you don’t have children, buying in a good school district can help with resale down the road. Don’t forget about your work commute, either — do you need easy access to highways or public transportation? Once you’ve settled on a neighborhood, find a real estate agent who’s a specialist in that area so you can maximize your potential for finding the right home.

Your Budget

Buying a home is a financial decision, and as such, budget should be a driving factor in your decision-making process. If you’re moving up, consider how your monthly payment will increase and whether you’re prepared to handle that. If you’re moving to a fixer-upper, take into account any extra expenses you’ll incur with renovations. Also, research the cost of living in the area, as well as property taxes and HOA fees. And of course, don’t forget to budget for the actual move.

The Home Itself

Once you’ve found a home, gone under contract with the seller, and started the mortgage process, it’s time to begin packing and planning for the big move. The key to a smooth move is organization. Here’s a handy checklist to help you get started on the right foot:

Do a purge. 

Begin by going through and getting rid of unnecessary stuff, from clothing to furniture to old holiday decorations. This will not only make for a lighter move but will also help you start fresh in your new home.

Pack smart. 

Save some money as you pack by using items you already have. For example, fill up laundry baskets and suitcases with non-breakables, and wrap delicate items like glassware in kitchen towels and linens. Be sure to label every box and, if you want to be extra organized, keep an inventory list of what’s in each box and which room it should go in. Check out more clever packing tips and tricks.

Hire legit movers.

A reputable moving company can save you a lot of headaches on moving day. Check that they are licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and only accept Full Value Protection insurance to cover any damage to your belongings. Be sure they perform a thorough in-home estimate, and don’t move forward until you have an agreement in writing.

Plan for moving day.

Outline your game plan for moving day well in advance. Determine what you’ll do for food, lodging, and transportation. Can you arrange for someone to watch the kids, or do you need to find some games and movies to keep them entertained throughout the day? Don’t forget to make room for the dog or cat, or plan to drop it off at the pet sitter’s to make its life and yours a lot easier.

It’s a Big Deal

Buying and moving into a home is one of the biggest milestones in a person’s life, whether it’s your first time or your third. When you know what to expect and what steps to take along the way, you can make finding home sweet home a fun and enjoyable experience.

Access your UHPA HomeStreet Bank Benefits Content

Follow this UHPA Membership Only link to access your UHPA HomeStreet Bank Benefits.

This content is made available to UHPA Members only using Google Drive files. Please follow the instructions on this link if you cannot immediately access the files.  
If you’re not a member, signup is quick and easy via our online form.

New Law Creates Sustainable Future for Hawaii’s Public Unions

Hawaii’s public-sector unions, including UHPA, can face a brighter, more sustainable future, thanks to a new bill recently signed into law by Gov. Josh Green that amends Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 89, which relates to unions and collective bargaining.

Since the U.S Supreme Court decision in Janus v American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31, et. al. in 2018, public unions had the option of providing all faculty members the same benefits of dues-paying members.

This obviously is not financially sustainable for unions, especially since it is very costly and time-consuming to help faculty address grievances and to defend them when there are violations of the UHPA contract and/or a faculty member’s terms and conditions of employment. This takes time and resources away from UHPA and to those faculty who pay dues, and is not equitable nor fair to dues-paying faculty members.

UHPA Shall Only Represent Dues-Paying Members

“We have always been willing and we stand ready to support and advocate for faculty members who may be facing a challenging situation in their work environment,” said Christian Fern, UHPA Executive Director. “It’s important to note that the Janus decision did not mandate that unions were required to provide individuals with free representation or expect to receive representation without paying dues. As a union, we had to make a difficult and prudent policy decision to limit our support to dues-paying members. This new Hawai‘i law helps to clarify and codify this.”

And Now It’s In The Law

The change to the Hawaii Revised Statutes modified the statutory required duties of unions deemed as an exclusive bargaining agent. Instead of representing all members, unions can now focus their support on dues-paying members. Specifically, HB1205, HD1, SD1 amended HRS, Chapter 89, §89-8(a) to read: unions “shall have the right to act for and negotiate agreements covering all employees in the unit and shall be responsible for representing the interests of the employees without discrimination and without regard to employee organization membership; provided that the exclusive representative shall not be required to provide grievance representation to employees who do not pay dues or dues equivalents and who decline to pay reasonable costs of that representation.
When the fall semester begins, watch for information on how you can join UHPA! Enjoy the summer!

Book Now: UHPA’s Disney Aulani Weekend!

Our very popular UHPA Disney Aulani Weekend returns for its 9th annual event on Oct 27 & 28, 2023.  Don’t miss out!

UHPA members love the Disney Aulani Resort. If you are an early bird planner, this is your chance to get the best rooms at our heavily discounted rates before they sell out as they do every year.

Start Earlier or Stay Later

Our special rates are in effect for Oct 27 & 28.  Want to stay longer? You can reserve dates up to 5 days before or after our special rate days.  As in previous years, it overlaps the Halloween weekend which should be extra fun for the whole family

First Come, First Serve Will Sell Out Quickly

Last year this sold out within weeks.  Early bird reservations are open now and we highly recommend you make your reservations as we only have limited availability and if previous years are an indication, this will sell out very quickly.

Submit Your SCR 201 Feedback and Recommendations

UHPA has created a SCR 201 Google Form to collect your feedback on the proposed Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 201 Policy Changes. Any recommendations that you provide will be used to assist and guide UHPA in advocating and conveying faculty questions and concerns to management over the proposed SCR 201 changes during the consultation process. While these recommendations will be brought forward for discussion, they in itself do not guarantee policy language changes in line with the recommendations offered.


What is SCR 201 All About?

Read our SCR 201 Primer to bring yourself up to date on this issue.

EUTF Rates & Bylaws Voting Results Published

EUTF Voting Results 

Published on 4/14/23, the results are as follows:

Should the terms of the EUTF Tentative Agreement effective July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2025 be accepted?

  • 99.4% voted in favor
  • 0.6% voted to reject

Your new EUTF Rates

Based on the now-ratified EUTF Agreement, these are the rates going into effect on July 1, 2023.  EUTF Active Open Enrollment ends on Friday, May 12, 2023.  Get more information about EUTF Active Open Enrollment.  

Amended and Restated Bylaws Results

Published on 4/21/23, the results are as follows:

Should the Proposed Resolution to Adopt the Revised Amended and Restated Bylaws of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly Be Approved?

  • 97.7% voted in favor
  • 2.3% voted not in favor

UHPA Helps Member Erase $272,000 in Student Loans

University of Hawai‘i-West Oahu

Associate Professor of Community Health, Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt, CHES

Gets $272,000 in Student Loans Erased through

Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

It pays to be a UHPA member! Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt received valuable information and assistance from the special information sessions, offered as an exclusive benefit to UHPA members. The sessions were offered by UHPA, through a partnership with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) last year. Even though loan forgiveness falls outside the scope of services offered by a union, UHPA recognized it could help improve the quality of life for faculty. As Dr. Graham-Tutt’s story shows, loan forgiveness is like receiving a huge wage increase, or winning the lottery! 

Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt, a University of Hawai‘i-West O‘ahu community health professor, has a noticeable pep in her walk these days now that a huge financial burden has been lifted off her shoulders. Her outstanding student debt totaling $271,785.49 has been zeroed out, thanks to the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

“This is my golden ticket,” she said, proudly holding up her official letter dated January 2, 2023, documenting the cancellation of her debt. “This is such a blessing.”

Dr. Graham-Tutt said she can now focus on “balancing life” by investing in her daughter’s education and well-being, planning for her retirement, and giving more to the community health scholarship fund she started to support for UH-West O‘ahu students who need help with covering the costs of tuition and textbooks for their courses. 

Unshackled from Student Debt

Gone are the days when Dr. Graham-Tutt had to set aside funds for loan repayments for tuition and living expenses incurred when she was earning her master’s degree in health science education at Baylor University, a private research university in Waco, Texas, and a doctorate degree in medical sociology from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Before that liberating day, she had been diligently striving to lower the amount she owed. Ever resourceful, Dr. Graham-Tutt brought down her debt by a few thousand dollars by serving as a volunteer at health clinics in Kailua and Waimanalo through the AmeriCorps/VISTA program, which provides loan forgiveness in exchange for serving those in underserved communities.

“The loan forgiveness could not have happened to a more deserving faculty member,” said Christian Fern, University of Hawaii Professional Assembly executive director. “Dr. Graham-Tutt has given so much to her students and to Hawai‘i.”

Serving the Local Community

Dr. Graham-Tutt originally had aspirations of being a pediatrician, but knew she could also make an impact through the field of community health as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), focusing on the social determinants of health — all of the factors that affect a person’s whole health to improve health equity. She has successfully designed and implemented sustainable community health education programs that deliver positive benefits to vulnerable communities.

Stepping Forward in the Midst of the Pandemic

During the pandemic, after successfully completing certification programs in contact tracing from Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University, Dr. Graham-Tutt participated in a contact tracing program in Hawai‘i. She was a part of the efforts to educate roughly 159 individuals, including those who lost their jobs during the pandemic, had retired or were working with organizations in need of contact tracer education. She helped to equip them with knowledge on the basics of community health and epidemiology to prepare them to reach out to those who may have been exposed to COVID-19. The sessions were all taught by Zoom in the evenings, during the day, and on weekends to best accommodate people’s schedules over the course of a year.

“There were several aha moments when we realized that we had to quickly pivot and tailor our courses to suit an array of learning styles, ethnic groups and cultures. It was truly a humbling experience to teach so many of our community members simply wanting to be a part of the solution.”

Before her current position with UH-West O‘ahu, Dr. Graham-Tutt served as a postdoctoral fellow and researcher at the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center; a faculty fellow at the University of Texas Arlington, Arlington, Texas; and a research assistant for the  Black Women’s Health Imperative in Washington, D.C.

Early Influences

Dr. Graham-Tutt, born in Texas, grew up in a “home where education was always pushed.”  Her parents both received undergraduate degrees; however, they would often share: “You need to do better than us.” Dr. Graham-Tutt took their advice to heart and pursued a master’s degree and then her doctorate degree.  

Good Mentors and Friends

Dr. Florence B. Bonner, Professor Emeritus, past VP of Research and Compliance and chair of the Department of Sociology at Howard University, took Dr. Graham-Tutt under her wings, putting her in touch with organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and many nonprofit organizations.

“Dr. Bonner nudged me and gave me so many life-changing experiences. We were so close as mentor and mentee that people would think we were mother and daughter,” Dr. Graham-Tutt laughed, noting that the two have stayed in touch for the past 20 years and that even her parents have met with this mentor at her house as friends.

Doing the Same for Students

Dr. Graham-Tutt, or Dr. C., as she is affectionately known by her students, knows the power of having appropriate role models and she strives to give her students the same kind of positive experiences that she had as a student. Dr. C. will seek role models with similar cultures and backgrounds for her West O‘ahu students to emulate. She introduced the Student Research and Creative Works Symposium at UH-West O‘ahu to give students the same support she received as a student to help them achieve their research goals. 

The Story Behind the Story

The loan forgiveness program has definitely opened doors to a new life for those who worked for a government institution for at least 10 years. However, public servants may not have realized that this concession was made possible as a result of a lawsuit filed by Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million member-American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union, against Besty DeVos, who had been serving as secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. The legal complaint was based on the U.S.’s failure to keep its promise to students about forgiving their loans after 10 years of public service.

Weingarten prevailed and the Biden administration was intent on implementing the program. (DevVos resigned from her position the day after the pro-Trump mob stormed the White House to attempt to stop Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. She publicly denounced former President Donald Trump for inciting the insurrection violence.)

To ensure all public universities were aware of the benefits and eligibility requirements of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, AFT reached out to UHPA last year to partner together to host a series of informational sessions about the program for UH faculty.

Dr. Graham-Tutt was one of the first to sign up and attend the informational session held at UH West O’ahu. Dr. Graham-Tutt filled out the simple form and hoped for the best. To her surprise, she was notified a week later —with the good news about her loan.  She cautiously held off from celebrating until she received her official notification in writing at the beginning of this year.

Could Your Lucky Day Be on the Horizon?

For UHPA members who have missed out on the October 31st PSLF Limited Waiver deadline, there’s still more time to apply. Some provisions under the waiver have been extended through July 2023! Plus, it’s even better than before — now past payments on Parent PLUS loans are eligible to be counted under the waiver!

UHPA, in collaboration with AFT, offers a student loan benefit through a free and secure online platform called Summer for UHPA members who have not yet taken advantage of this opportunity.  The program helps you manage your student loan debt with simple tools and a dedicated team of experts who are ready to offer support.

Summer specializes in helping employees earn Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) with complete coverage, from checking eligibility to submitting necessary forms online. It also assists you with yearly recertification after enrollment to ensure all requirements are met.


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