After a more than 15-year hiatus, Rockne Freitas returned to University of Hawaii this past summer, taking on the role of vice president for Student and Hawaiian Affairs and University and Community Relations. After holding leadership positions at Kamehameha Schools and serving as chancellor of Hawaii Community College for the past six years, Freitas now has system responsibilities for the students at UH. His department serves the students in many aspects, including financial aid, health, residency and living, admissions, government and university relations, as well as assisting in the completion of the UH-West Oahu campus.
“What we do is provide for the students when they walk in the door and when they exit. We handle everything that impacts them other than the academic issues and affairs,” says Freitas, who is enjoying his new role as a face for the students and university.
“It is about the students. It is about every aspect in our community, especially the Hawaiian community, which I am a part of - that is very inspiring and intriguing to me,” says Freitas. “I am always cheering for the underdog, and a lot of the local community does not see college as an option, so with me being a symbol at UH, it should show them that if I can do it, they certainly can.”
Freitas, who starred at Oregon State and later for the Detroit Lions and once served as UH associate athletic director, also played an instrumental, yet reserved role in assisting the negotiations and decision for the UH football team to move to Mountain West Conference starting in 2012.
Deemed the “designated leader” of the Mountain West Conference talks by UH president M.R.C. Greenwood, Freitas views this transfer as an excellent way to create a financial surge for the athletic department and university.
“We will certainly have more teams in bowl games, which will give us a share of the bowl money divided among conference members, and our television packages should increase over time,” Freitas adds. “UH also will be in a more-visible conference, which will make recruiting new talent easier for our coaches and staff.”
Freitas is looking forward to the move and revamping the football rivalries with members of the MWC that have a history with UH football.
“The MWC is made up of the old core WAC teams like Wyoming, Air Force and Colorado State. When they left to form the MWC, it left a void, and now we’re back with those guys, and I think we can rekindle those rivalries instantly.”
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