Maria Bautista is the interim chancellor until new chancellor Misaki Takabayashi will take over on March 1. (Photo by Shawna Takaki)

By Shawna Takaki | Staff Writer

With the departure of former chancellor Louise Pagotto, who retired at the end of the past fall semester, Maria Bautista has been appointed as interim chancellor. This was a surprise at first to both her and the campus, as it was a decision made by the University of Hawaiʻi system, but was preceded by a long history at Kapiʻolani Community College.

As the interim chancellor, she oversees the entire campus, taking into account the knowledge of others and currently working with the interim vice chancellor of Student Affairs, Dr. Michaelyn Nākoa Hall, and vice chancellor of Administrative Affairs, Brian Furuto, on making decisions for the campus. 

Working as both the interim vice chancellor of Student Affairs and vice chancellor of Academic Affairs, Bautista reports to herself and holds more responsibilities. Her focus is on listening to the thoughts of aforementioned vice chancellors and the deans.

“They know best about their respective units, and all I can do is listen and provide them with feedback,” Bautista said.

Bautista began to teach at the college in 1988. She had moved here from the Philippines with her family when her husband came to Hawaiʻi for a PhD in Entomology. Bautista started off as a lecturer in Physics at various colleges before settling here.

After her husband completed his degree, the family decided to stay in Oʻahu, and Bautista moved up the ranks from lecturer to full-time instructor. She partook in assembling the STEM center with the help of National Science Foundation grants, eventually becoming the department chair of Arts and Sciences.

After the previous dean of Arts and Sciences left the college, she took over as the interim dean of Arts and Sciences for a year. Afterward, she became the STEM Center director.  

Eventually, she was asked to become the interim vice chancellor of Academic Affairs.

“That was for one semester, but I’ve been here for four years now,” said Bautista. “Plans change.”

As the vice chancellor of Academic Affairs, she oversees all the academic units of the college. Her responsibilities include looking over course proposals by professors and managing the different courses offered by the college, taking into account need for the class, budget, and the workload of faculty.

She also communicates with the greater University of Hawaiʻi system, taking into account the greater perspective of the entire system along with that of the college.

Bautista is hopeful for the change on March 1 when chancellor Misaki Takayabashi will take over, citing her status as someone outside of the University of Hawaiʻi system as a key point in distinguishing her from past chancellors.

Takabayashi has a past as the associate vice president of graduate school at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Japan. Takabayashi was announced as the next chancellor on Nov 23 last year and will take over as chancellor of the college on March 1.

“We’ve never had a big change,” Bautista said. “Our chancellors have always been coming up from the system. … It’s the first time we’re going to have someone from outside, … a different viewpoint.”