Virginia S. Hinshaw, PhD

2012 UH Alumni Association President’s Award

BS in laboratory technology, 1966, Auburn University
MS in microbiology, 1967, Auburn University
PhD in microbiology, 1973, Auburn University

As chancellor of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Virginia S. Hinshaw, PhD, serves as the chief executive officer responsible for providing both administrative and academic leadership to the flagship campus of the University of Hawai‘i System. She is also a lifetime member and strong supporter of the UH Alumni Association.

Under her tenure, UH Mānoa has earned full WASC accreditation for the maximum term of 10 years. The campus has increased financial aid to ensure access for Hawai'i's students and provided a smoother transition for transferring students from UH community colleges to continue their higher education. UH Mānoa continues to welcome a growing student population and houses almost 4,000 students in transformed residence halls, now described as “awesome.” The campus has garnered a national reputation for its sustainability efforts, ranging from installing photovoltaic panels on the roof of Sinclair Library to building the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) Hale, which has won the highly coveted LEED Platinum rating for environmental consciousness in construction and design. And she has been credited with elevating community engagement to new heights through numerous partnerships locally, nationally and internationally, and effectively communicating the value that UH Mānoa provides to Hawai'i and the world.

Hinshaw is a renowned scientist with expertise in microbiology whose work over the past 25 years has contributed to the understanding of the influenza virus and new approaches to vaccines. She has conducted research at various hospitals and universities including Medical College of Virginia, the University of California, Berkeley, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Hinshaw’s research has increased our understanding of various aspects of influenza viruses such as important hosts in nature; transmission among humans, lower mammals, and birds; genetic changes related to disease severity; the molecular basis of cell killing; and new approaches to vaccines. Her innovative and energetic teaching style, combined with her continual advocacy for research and education and her dedication to increased opportunities for underrepresented groups, has earned her international recognition and acclaim. In 2009 she was appointed the national co-chair of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Energy Initiative Advisory Committee.

Prior to joining UH Mānoa in 2007, Hinshaw served as the provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of California, Davis, where she oversaw the campus’s $2.3 billion budget and was responsible for the UC Davis Health System, campus operations and strategic leadership in planning, coordinating and implementing academic direction and programs. She is also a former dean of the graduate school and vice chancellor for research at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

UHAA President Douglas Inouye’s award presentation speech

Since her inauguration as UH Mānoa chancellor in November 2007, Virginia Hinshaw has given the UH Alumni Association her indomitable enthusiasm and tireless support. During her inaugural address, Chancellor Hinshaw spoke of her ancestral Native-American roots and of the parallels with Hawaiian and local culture. It was clear to me then that Chancellor Hinshaw already understood and had embraced the aloha spirit.

I had the sense that she truly appreciated the concept of ‘ohana and how important it is to our university community. She made it clear that she saw alumni as an integral part of this family – those from Mānoa and all our UH System campuses, including even the many friends without UH degrees who support our university.

If I had a dime for every person Chancellor Hinshaw encouraged to join the UH Alumni Association, I could probably build another Stan Sheriff Arena! At every UH function I have seen her attend, she always speaks of how great UH alumni are and how they are part of the very fiber of our university. She has continually reminded us of the importance of staying actively engaged as alumni, and stands alongside us as a proud, lifetime member of UHAA. Also a generous donor, she truly believes in giving back to this community.

Her aloha for alumni and support for our organization have been evident in the many things she’s done for us during her tenure as UH Mānoa chancellor. Here are just a few:

  • Ever the ambassador for UH Mānoa, Chancellor Hinshaw brings her alumni and “H” pins to people wherever she goes. (I suspect there are a few of you who may have even received one tonight!) This simple gesture of goodwill, which has been repeated thousands of times, has generated a wave of pride and sentiment that has stirred our alumni community.
  • To further build pride, Chancellor Hinshaw laid the groundwork for new traditions at UH Mānoa by resurrecting Homecoming. She invited alumni back to campus to reconnect and join in the fun, hosting events on Bachman lawn and Ching Field.
  • Chancellor Hinshaw has attended so many after-hours events, we often wondered when she found time to rest! She stayed late for award dinners and arrived early at football games to mingle with alumni tailgaters. She never failed to engage alumni at these events because she realized the profound importance of simply “talking story.”
  • In addition to all she did on O‘ahu, Chancellor Hinshaw has traveled far and wide to engage alumni, with overseas trips to China, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines, to name a few. She’s had the opportunity to meet and connect with many prominent alumni around the world.
  • In an effort to become more directly involved with alumni and offer her support, Chancellor Hinshaw established the Mānoa Alumni Council and convened with our UHAA chapter leaders quarterly to collaborate on ways to connect with alumni.
  • Perhaps Chancellor Hinshaw’s most symbolic gesture of her commitment to UHAA was in giving us a seat on the commencement stage. This has allowed us to address the graduating class, leaving them with the last words they hear as students … and the first words they hear as alumni. We’ve been able to reach out to graduates in this critical moment and let them know they have a lifelong connection to our alma mater through the UH Alumni Association. And, of course, the Chancellor gave alumni pins to each and every one of these new graduates as a reminder.

In recognition of Chancellor Hinshaw’s service and accomplishments these past five years, members of the community are working with the University of Hawai‘i Foundation to raise money for scholarships in honor of the Chancellor. Thanks to an outpouring of support from the community and a generous gift from the Chancellor and her husband, more than $140,000 has been raised so far – enough to endow four Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw Scholarships that will be awarded annually in perpetuity to benefit students in four academic areas: Native Hawaiian music, sustainability, scholar athletes, and biomedical research. We continue to receive gifts as her time as Chancellor draws to a close and each of those gifts will help provide even more financial support for students in these fields of study. What a wonderful addition to the Chancellor’s legacy to UH Mānoa!

The University of Hawai‘i Alumni Association is forever grateful to Chancellor Hinshaw for her support of our organization and all alumni. Tonight we honor her for bringing prominence to those of us who have attended this great university, and for believing in the difference we make as alumni. On behalf of all who wear their pins with great honor and pride, I offer this UH Alumni Association President’s award, and a warm MAHALO, to Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw.