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Aloha from President Wright
with Chatt G. Wright

Welcome back, or—for our new students—welcome to Hawai‘i Pacific University. New or continuing, you have probably discovered HPU’s diversity. On our campuses, students from more than 100 countries and different ethnic groups socialize freely.

The same can not be said of most American university campuses. In November, the New York Times wrote of efforts at Dartmouth and other top-rated mainland schools to bridge gaps between their students of different ethnic groups: “Many campuses are more diverse than ever. But that does not mean that students connect across racial and ethnic lines.” In an effort to change this situation, the Dartmouth administration has made a commitment to spend millions of dollars over several years to help students to become “culturally versatile, or culturally competent” individuals. They believe that these attributes “will become more useful as the nation becomes increasingly diverse.”

HPU already has a student body that largely fits the vision of Dartmouth and other top U.S. universities. Many of you already relate to your peers from other cultures on a daily basis, and you have developed the ability to work together across cultural lines. This will certainly prove valuable not only while you are students here, but also in your personal and professional lives.

While schools such as Dartmouth hav started consciously and deliberately to plan a welcoming multicultural campus, HPU’s multicultural experience has arisen in a more spontaneous and organic way because of our Hawai‘i location. HPU has had a large number of international students for many years, and our host Hawaiian culture has always welcomed newcomers into the ‘ohana, the family or group.

The spontaneous, unplanned nature of our multicultural learning environments means that we know something wonderful happens when students join us. However, we are still not very clear about how that happens. Some goals of our current planning process are to define what we mean by “global citizenship” at HPU, to understand the processes at work here, and to enhance what we are doing. As we do so, we will almost certainly have valuable insights to share with institutions such as Dartmouth.

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