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West // West Oahu News
Christina O’Connor

UH-WO Chancellor Honored

Rockne Freitas

Rockne Freitas

University of Hawaii-West Oahu chancellor Rockne Freitas recently was recognized for his work, being named this year’s recipient of Oregon State University Alumni Association’s E.B. Lemon Distinguished Alumni Award.

The award is the highest recognition granted by the group to recognize alumni “who make significant contributions to society and whose accomplishments and careers bring acclaim to the university.”

“I was humbled when I got the call,” admitted Freitas, who graduated from Oregon State in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in animal science. “It came as a complete surprise, and I’m grateful for the honor. (Oregon State’s) Kate Sanders called me, and I told her it was a mistake. I told her, ‘My name is Rockne Freitas, not (Nobel Laureate and Oregon State alumnus) Linus Pauling.’”

Freitas was nominated for the award by Hawaii Community College chancellor Noreen Yamane for his work at UH-WO since joining the campus in May 2013, as well as his work in the UH system throughout his career. Freitas, who also earned master’s and doctoral degrees in education from UH-Manoa, previously served as chancellor of Hawaii Community College and vice president for student affairs and university and community relations for the UH system.

According to Yamane, Freitas is “addressing the financial difficulties of the campus and improving the morale and service of one of the most underserved populations in the state of Hawaii.”

Since assuming his role as chancellor, Freitas has worked to increase the school’s resources while maintaining an affordable tuition for students. He also continues to work to increase enrollment at the school in order to reach out to the surrounding community.

“We are working hard to recruit students here, with relevant degrees and certificates that they can take back to their communities and really make a difference … We want to continue to serve the under-served communities in the state and the students who grow up minutes away from our new Kapolei campus,” he said.

More changes currently are in the works for UHWO. This semester, it launched a Bachelor of Education degree program with concentrations in middle and secondary English and social studies. It also is in the planning stages for campus housing.

“We have a beautiful campus that we are proud of, and we encourage people to come and visit and learn what a gem UH has in Kapolei.”

As this year’s Distinguished Alumnus, Freitas will be honored April 24 at a ceremony in Oregon.

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