Q: Hello John! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your involvement with Maui College?
Sure! I’m the webmaster at the University of Hawaii Maui College, and have been designing websites since high school in the late 90s. I grew up here in Maui, and a lot has changed over the years, as you can imagine!
In 2013, my family and I moved to Chicago so I could work with a web design company. It was quite an adventure! I gained a ton of experience working with a wide variety of clients and their teams – from skyscraper boardrooms in the heart of the city, to one of Chicago’s most iconic radio stations on the south side.
Shortly after, I was asked to come back to Maui to take a position at Maui College running their website.
It’s a great time to be working in the web industry, and I love drawing inspiration from both our local culture and the vibrant, worldwide designer and developer community. It’s exciting to see the techniques and ideas coming out of great design houses all over the world.
Q: The location of the college is in a stunning setting. Can you tell us a little about the history of both the area and Maui College?
The college began as an outgrowth of the Maui Vocational School, established in 1931. In 1958, the name was changed to the Maui Technical School, denoting an upgrade of vocational education to a technical level. In 1964, the Hawaii State Legislature enacted the Community College Act, which established a state-wide community college system under the University of Hawaii. The Maui Technical School was incorporated into this system in 1965, and transferred to the jurisdiction of the University of Hawaii.
In 1966, the College was conferred Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees, and changed its name to the Maui Community College. In September 1967, the first lower-division transfer courses were offered.
Up until 2009, Maui Community College was one of seven community colleges in the University of Hawaii system, spanning ten campuses. Finally, in spring of 2010 the Western Association of Schools and Colleges approved a name change to the University of Hawaii Maui College, which provided a more accurate reflection of the college’s three baccalaureate degrees.
Q: What’s your favorite part of the job, and do you have a story that encapsulates it?
When I first started here at Maui College, I was tasked with redesigning the website and implementing a more manageable system, along with reflecting the vibrant life and culture of the college as a whole. Within four months, we had launched a brand new design using WordPress Multisite and Avada.
We’ve gone through several iterations since then, each building on the strengths of the last. I love working with the team here; we’re a close-knit family and the administration really empowers us to do our best work.
Q: You have a lot of web design experience under your belt. What keeps you inspired with fresh ideas and perspectives for new projects?
I’m the fifth generation of my family to live here in Maui. My great great grandparents came to Maui from Japan, and my great grandfather was born in the sugarcane fields in Kihei while his mother worked. Later that night she cooked dinner for the family! It was a different world back then.
The culture here is incredibly deep and rich, a snapshot of which is depicted by a newly-painted mural on our Ka’a’ike building. For the next iteration of the website, we’re planning to draw inspiration from our vibrant past while using current web techniques to tell our story.