HILO — Erika Lacro, who was raised in Hilo and has served as chancellor of Honolulu Community College since 2012, has been recommended for approval as the University of Hawaii Vice President for Community Colleges.
In the role, Lacro will lead UH’s seven community colleges as a system within the UH system.
“I’ve been with the community colleges now since 2007, so it’s really great to be given that opportunity to help lead our community college system forward in the future,” Lacro said by phone on Tuesday. “I’m extremely passionate about the students that we serve and the communities that we serve.”
Lacro, who moved to Hilo when she was young and graduated from Hilo High School in 1990, said UH is close to her family.
Her parents were both professors at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and her brother attended Hawaii Community College, she said. Lacro took classes at UH-Hilo but graduated from UH-Manoa, which is where she met her husband and where her son is now a freshman.
She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in travel industry management from UH-Manoa and returned to school as an adult to earn a doctorate degree in communication and information sciences.
According to a university news release, Lacro was the first woman to serve as chancellor at Honolulu Community College and under her leadership, Honolulu went from one of the lowest performing campuses to one of the highest in the community colleges system.
She served at Honolulu Community College as vice chancellor of academic affairs from 2007 and prior to that held several executive and management positions at the UH-Manoa School of Travel Industry Management, including assistant dean.
Lacro also held several management roles at the Hilton Hawaiian Village before joining the university.
She said family matters prompted her departure from Hilton Hawaiian Village, but she was running the internship program there, and would place university students.
The individual she worked with at the university was ready to leave the role and Lacro said she was recommended.
It was a “great fit,” she said, being able to work to place students into the industry while bringing her knowledge of the hospitality industry.
Lacro has served as chancellor of Honolulu Community College since 2012 and said she’s most proud of the increase in the HCC graduation rate and student success rates.
In her new role, Lacro said her focus will be on opportunities for anyone interested in higher education, making sure they’re successful and looking at systems in place to be more effective and efficient for both internal employees and students, as well as “making sure our messaging is out there, actively recruiting and making sure people understand we are a great option.”
The UH Board of Regents will consider Lacro’s appointment to the position at its January meeting.
“Erika is a proven leader with knowledge, experience, and a record of success in multiple roles within UH and the private sector,” UH President David Lassner said in the news release. “She understands where we have been and has the vision and commitment to advance our community colleges in meeting the challenges of a rapidly changing world, while continuing to provide quality, affordable education for the people of Hawaii.”
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