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Fellows Spotlight
Q&A with Diane Paloma, New Member of the UH Board of Regents
May 26, 2021

Diane Paloma, University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents Member

Cohort VIII Fellow Diane Paloma’s ties to the University of Hawai‘i (UH) system run deep. Her parents met as students on the campus of UH-Mānoa (UHM). She grew up on the UHM campus where her mother worked for 30 years. Her family, long-time UH football fans, fostered her love of the game and the Rainbow Warriors since she was a child. LET’S GO BOWS!

After receiving her undergraduate degree in California, Diane returned home to take classes at UHM, first in Hawaiian language and feminist studies, and later to earn her MBA from the College of Business in 1999. In 2003, she worked on the UHM faculty as a junior specialist while building the Department of Native Hawaiian Health at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, the first academic medical department devoted to an indigenous population.

Diane’s connection to UH recently came full circle when she was appointed by Governor Ige to the UH Board of Regents (BOR), the 11-member governing body of the UH System, and later confirmed by the Senate. Her 5-year term starts on July 1, 2021. She answered some of our questions about this new volunteer role and how she hopes to help shape the future of Hawai‘i.

Hawai‘i Leadership Forum (HLF): What does the Board of Regents do?

Diane Paloma (DP): The University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents formulates policy and exercises control over all campuses of the university system specifically through internal structure, management, and operations of the university.

HLF: What made you want to get involved? 

DP: A very persistent friend that felt I needed to apply. The intersection of education is so aligned with health and well-being, and I wanted to be able to continue my work in health and health care through enhancing educational opportunities for our community. Also, as a parent, I'd like to see how we can retain more local kids and bring the UH system as a first choice for our ‘opio (youth). I went away for undergraduate education, but I came home two weeks after graduation knowing that I wanted to return and work and raise a family in Hawaiʻi. How can we have our youth have these experiences of "going away and getting off the rock" while noting that UH has areas of study that are not found anywhere else? I continue to have so much aloha for the UH system and this is the next way to reconnect with one of my alma maters.

HLF: What do you hope to accomplish during your term?

DP: First and foremost, I hope to have more women on the Board of Regents. Also, I hope to redefine what "Hawaiian place of learning" means for the university and beyond, especially in the wake of the Maunakea movement in 2019. 

HLF: How can others get involved in helping shape the future of UH?

DP: They can:

  • get involved by keeping tabs on the Board of Regents meetings which are public and governed by the Sunshine Law,
  • email me at dpaloma@hawaii.edu, and
  • provide support and expertise where needed in the large system, get to know the educational programs in their area of expertise, and encourage their businesses and organizations to engage with all university systems. 

I have always advocated for higher learning from different schools. Hawai‘i is a small place, which naturally facilitates collaboration and partnerships among all institutions.