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It is with great pride and excitement that we welcome you to Hawaiʻi for the 36th Annual National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE). This marks a historic moment as it's the first time NCORE has chosen our beautiful island state as the venue for this significant event.

As you gather here from across the United States, surrounded by the breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage of Hawaiʻi, we hope you will take this opportunity to engage in crucial discussions about race and ethnicity in higher education. We also hope you are touched by the spirit of Aloha and learn more about our distinctive perspective of ʻohana (family).

Since its inception in 1988, NCORE has been a beacon of hope and progress in addressing racial and ethnic issues in higher education. It has evolved into a vital national resource, providing a multicultural platform that brings together individuals representing diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Most know the concept of “six degrees of separation,” the theory that any one person in the world is connected to another in six steps or less. However, in Hawaiʻi we often say there is “one degree of separation,” because that is how close-knit of a community we are. We see each other as ʻohana, even if not by blood. 

This year's conference holds particular significance as we collectively strive to create and sustain comprehensive institutional change aimed at improving racial and ethnic relations on our campuses. Our goal is to expand opportunities for educational access and success for culturally diverse and traditionally underrepresented populations.

Our University of Hawaiʻi System comprised of 10 campuses is one of the most diverse college systems in the country. We also have the only college of indigenous knowledge in a research institution in the United States. 

Our University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo will lead a three-university consortium via a $6.6 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish a National Native American Language Resource Center.

We also have made great strides in revitalizing the Hawaiian language, supporting Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions, and we have one of eight federally designated Minority-Serving Institutions programs established by Congress in 2007. 

We hope our efforts to be inclusive and accept each other regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic class or background will serve as a model to others that we all can get along if we work harder to better understand each other’s points of view. I hope that all of you attending NCORE will have a phenomenal and transitional experience. 

We extend our deepest gratitude to The Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies for its dedication in organizing this transformative event. Together, we embark with you on a journey of growth, understanding, and solidarity, inspired by the spirit of aloha and inclusivity that defines our Hawaiian culture.

May this conference serve as a catalyst for meaningful dialogue, actionable insights, and lasting change. Let us come together with open hearts and minds, united in our commitment to building a more equitable and inclusive future for all.

Mahalo nui loa for your presence and participation.

With warm aloha,

Governor Josh Green, M.D.