UH Maui College Music and Dental Hygiene Teachers Recognized for Excellence


UH Maui College faculty members Joseph Keola Donaghy (left) and Kevin Omuro received top teaching awards. Photos courtesy of UH

Twenty-three faculty members from the University of Hawaii received top awards for their inspiring teaching and world-class research, including two faculty from UH Maui College.

“Our world-class faculty is at the heart of UH,” said UH President David Lassner. “Every day, they inspire our students by modeling excellence in scholarship and commitment inside and outside the classroom to improve life on our islands.”

The winners from UH Maui College:

Dental Hygiene Lecturer Kevin Omuro received the Regents’ Medal of Excellence in Teaching, which recognizes teachers who demonstrate an extraordinary level of mastery and scholarship, efficiency and creativity in teaching and personal values ​​beneficial to students.

Joseph Keola Donaghy, Assistant Professor of Music and Faculty Coordinator at the Hawaiian Music Institute, received the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. It was created in memory of the late Frances Davis, who taught mathematics at Leeward Community College and UH Mānoa for 19 years.


Omuro is a licensed dentist who has been practicing in Hawaiʻi since 1986. As a lecturer, Omuro has taught numerous courses at UH Maui College, including oral histology and embryology; dental hygiene pathology and special patient populations; oral pathology in dental hygiene; applied pharmacology in dentistry; and clinical dental hygiene.


Omuro’s passion is helping his students learn and seeing them grow. He is always trying new ways to make his classes exciting and interesting. Omuro’s students and colleagues praise him for his patience and commitment to helping students become the best hygienists they can be.

A student said, “Dr. Omuro not only shows a passion for teaching, but has a drive to provide real-world application for his students to strive for in their careers. It goes beyond.

Another student said: “He understands very well that we are all new to this field…He teaches very difficult subjects in a way that allows us to understand them so easily.


Other UH recipients of the Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching:

  • Troy AndradeAssociate Professor, William S. Richardson School of Law, UH Mānoa
  • Daniel Harris McCoyAssociate Professor of Classics, College of Arts, Languages ​​& Letters, UH Mānoa
  • Laurie Jamesassociate professor of mathematics education, UH West Oʻahu
  • Peiling KaoAssociate Professor in the Department of Theater and Dance, College of Arts, Languages ​​and Letters, UH Mānoa
  • Drew KappProfessor of Social Sciences, Hawaii Community College
  • Bryan KimChair of the Division of Social Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, UH Hilo
  • Duke I. Langcarpentry teacher, Kaua’i Community College
  • Kyra Anne LenAssociate Professor of Medical Education and Pediatrics, John A. Burns School of Medicine, UH Mānoa
  • Alyssa MacDonaldAssistant Professor of Biology, Leeward Community College
  • Gabriel David Peckhaminstructor, Honolulu Community College
  • Bridget Smith Konterprofessor of geophysics at the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, UH Mānoa
  • Kevin Takayamamath professor, Windward Community College
  • Bennett ZazzeraInstructor and Director of Physical Therapist Assistant Program, Kapiʻolani Community College
  • Wei ZhangProfessor in the Department of Sociology, College of Social Sciences, UH Mānoa

For bios of each recipient: hawaii.edu/news/2022/05/16/bor-medal-for-teaching-2022/

Donaghy is faculty coordinator at UH Maui College for the Institute of Hawaiian Music, which mentors and trains aspiring musicians in performance, vocals, composition, recording techniques, and music marketing. Hawaiian music. Students are guided from the start of their musical training to the start of their career.

Donaghy is passionate about Hawaiian music and has worked with students to produce albums, which earned him a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award as producer of the compilation EP “He Lani Ko Luna, He Honua Ko Lalo”. He is accomplished in the Hawaiian music industry, serving as a member of the Board of Governors of the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts.

It is linguistically accomplished in Hawaiian, Te Reo Maori and Irish Gaelic. Donaghy also developed the Hawaiian Keyboard and recently developed and released Hulihua—a Hawaiian clone of the popular Wordle game.

A colleague of his wrote, “His work mentoring the next generation of musicians and giving students a pathway to use and embrace their musical talents is remarkable and should be celebrated.

Other recipients of the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching:

  • Hoa LePhD student in the Department of Second Language Studies, College of Arts, Languages ​​and Letters, UH Mānoa
  • Brent Kawika Rubioassociate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, Honolulu Community College
  • Tarisi VunidiloAssistant Professor of Anthropology, UH Hilo
  • Justin WalguarneryAssistant Professor of Biology, School of Life Sciences, UH Mānoa

For the bios of each winner: .hawaii.edu/news/2022/05/16/frances-davis-award-2022/

The Regents Medal for Excellence in Research recognizes a faculty member’s scholarly contributions that push the frontiers of knowledge and enrich the lives of all in the community, nation, and world. HU winners:

  • Brian N. PoppProfessor of Earth Sciences at the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, UH Mānoa
  • Rui Sunassistant professor of chemistry at the College of Natural Sciences, UH Mānoa
  • Sun Xudongassistant astronomer at the Institute of Astronomy, UH Mānoa

For the bios of each winner: hawaii.edu/news/2022/05/16/bor-medal-for-research-2022/

The Masaki and Momoe Kunimoto Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Vocational Education recognizes outstanding achievement and significant contribution to vocational and technical education by a community college faculty member or student. The award was created by family members to honor the namesakes’ role in the development of the food industry in Hawai’i. This year’s winner:

  • Brian Yamamoto, Professor of the Natural Science Program, Kaua’i Community College

To learn more about Yamamoto: hawaii.edu/news/2022/05/16/yamamoto-kunimoto-award-2022/


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