PUHI– In February, Kauai Community College (KCC) welcomed their new chancellor, Joseph Daisy.
Daisy was the former president and chief executive officer of the College of Micronesia-Federated States of Micronesia, has been working as an executive for 10 years and took the job at KCC because he wanted to try something different.
Inspired by his friendship with his predecessor Helen Cox through the Pacific Postsecondary Education Council, an organization comprised of all the pacific educations including the chancellors from Hawai‘i, he made the decision to apply and Daisy was ecstatic to learn he got the position. So, he took a leap of faith and moved forward with his life and career to Kaua‘i to provide KCC’s students and faculty the tools they need to succeed.
After losing his wife in June of 2018, Daisy was ready to start embrace every opportunity on Kaua‘i and at KCC.
“It began really well, the welcome was warm, authentic and genuine both in the community as well with the college ‘ohana here. With the new restrictions that were put in place, there is a tad bit of an isolation affect,” said Daisy. “I came out here to make new friends, social connections and community friendships. To that end it’s a little isolation, but looking forward to the opportunities to get back to that if and when it is safe to do so.”
Daisy was born and raised in Massachusetts on the East Coast. He started his career 42 careers ago as a history teacher. He’s also an accomplished baritone base vocalist, though he doesn’t perform regularly.
“I always see myself as a teacher first. I had some wonderful teachers in high school and in college,” said Daisy.
When Daisy was working for a credit agency his boss encouraged him to go back to school to get his doctoral degree which lead to a teaching opportunity that summer at Cambridge College. He spent the last few years in Micronesia, working with Pohnpei State, a place that reminds him of Kaua‘i “in many ways”.
“Pohnpei was lush, green and rains a lot but is smaller than Kaua‘i. It does remind me a lot of the time I spent in the last eight years of my life,” he said.
Although Daisy’s transition plans had to come to a pause due to COVID-19, he is very impressed by how the faculty and staff is working hard remotely and is looking forward to implementing his vision.
With Spring semester finally over, Daisy says KCC has a total of 294 associates degrees and certificates of achievements and is hoping to have a face to face ceremony on Dec. 4 for his graduating students, depending on the status of the pandemic. For right now, Daisy said he taped a congratulations for KCC’s graduates that will be posted on KCC’s website this week.
With schools forced to move to remote distance learning, Daisy said his team and students adapted well.
“It was really challenging for both our students and our faculty to adapt to remote learning delivery. They all did a great job, both students and faculty. They were understanding and patient,” said Daisy.
Daisy said KCC is looking forward to whatever this “new normal” is going to look like and is working on procedures to safeguard the health of 1300 students and faculty when the time comes to open up the campus.
“We have been working closely with representative of the county. I know the Mayor has established different sectors. We are participating in the education sector. We are in the conversations and making sure our plan aligns with economic and workforce plans envision by the county,” said Daisy.
During this pandemic, Daisy said all the chancellors from all the community colleges meet everyday through Zoom, supporting each other when faced with difficult decisions.
“We are discussing the challenges that each of us are facing so we can help the students. We want to make sure we are supporting one another. Here at the college, our college council meets every week by Zoom, discussing important issues that the campus may be facing and providing recommendations and guidelines on how we move forward,” said Daisy. “As we look forward to Fall semester, we will look at plans to return in Fall to our campus. I don’t think we will ever go back to only face-to-face instructions. We have to plan for a possible surveillance of this virus.”
Daisy’s vision for KCC has been put on pause since the pandemic began but he is looking forward to expanding the school’s entrepreneur program.
“Entrepreneurship, that will be very much a part of our plans as we move forward particularly in economic recovery and workforce development,” said Daisy.
Another program on hold is KCC’s international exchange program.
Daisy said before the pandemic, they welcomed primary students from Japan. For now its on pause because of what is happening in the world. For now they will look into more interactions using technology like zoom more efficiently and more effectively to achieve KCC’s goals when things were normal.
With the crisis, Daisy and student’s dreams of having a housing program will have to wait.
“Housing was one of the new transition plans I was hoping to build on, but like other colleges with resident halls, the health and safety of our students and faculty come first.”
Daisy said while the campus is still limited in access to students and faculty, KCC would like to invite the community to follow them on social media and look at their website on information on their programs and services.
“My deepest mahalo to everybody here at the college and in the community for the warm welcome and continued support and extensions of their friendships,” said Daisy.