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UH Maui professor earns Board of Regents medal for teaching excellence

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Rosemary Vierra, professor and dental hygiene program coordinator, UH Maui College

A professor at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College was among 15 faculty members from across the state who were awarded the Regentsʻ Medal for Excellence in Teaching. Rosemary Vierra, a professor and dental hygiene program coordinator at UHMC has taught in the program since 2008.

University administrators say Vierraʻs energy and connection with the community enable her to create enriching learning opportunities such as service learning, outreach to public high schools and partnerships with businesses and organizations that provide students valuable experiences in the field.  She was the only Maui faculty member honored with the award this year.  

One student described Vierra’s authentic concern for student well-being and success: “She always puts the students first and makes us feel like our voices matter. She not only cares about our success but also our personal well-being. She is a big advocate for mental health, which I appreciate very much.”


Another student said, “Since the beginning of our cohort in the fall of 2021, she has gone above and beyond for us students to succeed. Her priority is always to help us succeed, whether it’s volunteering to help us meet our clinical requirements to finding us patients.”

In addition to the 15 Regents’ Medals awarded for Excellence in Teaching, the University of Hawaiʻi awarded three Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research and six Frances Davis Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching; and a Honolulu Community College student has won the Masaki and Momoe Kunimoto Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Vocational Education.

“Congratulations to our outstanding, world-class faculty and students,” said UH President David Lassner. “We are grateful for their hard work, service and inspiration as they elevate our communities through their scholarship and teaching excellence.”


The Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching recognizes faculty who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity, and personal values beneficial to students. The awards were given to:

  • Rosanna Alegado, associate professor of oceanography, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, UH Mānoa
  • Tammy Hailiʻōpua Baker, associate professor of theatre and dance, College of Arts, Languages & Letters, UH Mānoa
  • Richard C. Chen, associate professor, William S. Richardson School of Law, UH Mānoa
  • Lincoln A. Gotshalk, professor of kinesiology and exercise science, College of Natural and Health Sciences, UH Hilo
  • Karadeen Kam-Kalani, professor of speech, Honolulu Community College
  • Tiffany-Joy Kawaguchi, program director and interim academic fieldwork coordinator, occupational therapy assistant program, Kapiʻolani Community College
  • Kamuela Kimokeo, director, Hawaiian Music Institute, Windward Community College
  • Monica LaBriola, a ssistant professor of history, College of Arts, Languages & Letters, UH Mānoa
  • Donald K. Maruyama, professor of culinary arts, Leeward Community College
  • Summer Maunakea, assistant professor in curriculum studies, College of Education, UH Mānoa
  • Alexander Stokes, assistant professor of cell and molecular biology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, UH Mānoa
  • Shawn Sumiki, instructor of culinary arts, Hawaiʻi Community College
  • Maureen Tabura, assistant professor, nursing, Kauaʻi Community College
  • Eli Tsukayama, associate professor, marketing, UH West Oʻahu
  • Rosemary Vierra, professor and dental hygiene program coordinator, UH Maui College

The Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research recognizes a faculty member’s scholarly contributions that expand the boundaries of knowledge and enrich the lives of all in the community, nation and the world, was awarded to:

  • Kenneth C. Chambers, astronomer, Institute for Astronomy, UH Mānoa
  • Jeffrey Drazen, professor in the Department of Oceanography in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, UH Mānoa
  • Shadia Rifai Habba, professor of astronomy at the Institute for Astronomy, UH Mānoa

The Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching recognizes dedication and demonstrated excellence as teachers of undergraduate students. It was established as a memorial to the late Frances Davis, who taught mathematics at Leeward Community College and UH Mānoa for 19 years. This year’s awardees are:

  • Katherine Aumer, associate professor of psychology, UH West Oʻahu
  • Leanne Day, assistant professor of English, UH Hilo
  • Aaron Hanai, associate professor of engineering, Kapiʻolani Community College
  • Kalikoaloha Martin, instructor in the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language, Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, UH Mānoa
  • Orlo Steele, associate professor of science, tropical forest ecosystem and agroforestry management program, Hawaiʻi Community College
  • Manca Sustarsic, PhD candidate in education with a concentration in educational foundations in the College of Education, UH Mānoa

The Masaki and Momoe Kunimoto Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Vocational Education rewards outstanding achievement and significant contribution to vocational and technical education by a community college faculty member or student. The award was established by family members to honor the namesakes’ role in development of the food industry in Hawai‘i. This year’s winner is:

  • Dayton Uchiyama, fire and environmental emergency response student at Honolulu Community College

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