One on One With New CUH President Dr. Lynn Babington


Jorge Santos

Dr. Lynn Babington

Dr. Lynn Babington was inaugurated as Chaminade’s 10th president on Jan. 20. The 90-minute inauguration ceremony allowed her to not only learn about Chaminade’s history but to also share her vision of what she wants CUH to be in the future.

“I was so moved and touched, and I had 25 family members and friends come from the mainland and they were just blown away,” she said of the ceremony. “The mass and the installation were so personal and such a blend of Hawaiian culture and the Marianist traditions and then the pa’ina that the students put on and then there was a reception at the Pacific Club. The whole thing was, it was humbling.”

A Detroit native, Babington has dedicated her life to higher education. With a doctorate in nursing from the University of Washington, she has spent her time as a health care systems consultant, offering her expertise in managing hospitals, many in areas with vulnerable populations. This experience has allowed her to become introduced to many cultures around the world.

She has worked in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and also Vietnam. Babington also spent six weeks in Israel as a Fulbright scholar studying at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev before getting into academia in 2003. She most recently served as dean of the school of nursing and later interim president at Fairfield University, where she worked for more than three years.

She began her tenure at Chaminade University on Aug. 1, 2017. She called CUH “a very special place” and plans to improve enrollment, increase name recognition, and add and improve the academic programs.

“People need to know who we are,” Babington said. “They need to think about us in many ways. And you know we’re financially stable. However, we’re tuition dependent. And that means were not in any jeopardy at the moment, but we need to grow our graduate programs. We need to grow our online degree completion programs and grow the undergrad population a little bit. We don’t want to be huge, but there’s capacity here.”

When chosen as president, Dr. Babington had many positive things to express about Chaminade.

“I was so struck by the commitment people have here to the university, to students, to the educational students,” she said. “And when I came, I asked everybody around whether it was the Uber driver or somebody in the ABC Store that I was buying something down at Waikiki and, you know, if you heard about Chaminade. And everybody had knew something about it but not much. But nobody had a negative thing to say. And then when I met the search committee and later met some students who were part of the interview process and faculty and staff, I really was struck and I thought this is great place for me to be … now.”

During a 40-minute sit-down interview in early February, Babington spoke about everything from Chaminade to her background and love of Hawaii.

On coming to Hawaii regularly for vacation when she was younger
“I was well prepared when I came here and just that’s one of the beauties of this place is the rich diversity of cultures and the really respect for cultures that you don’t get in many places to the degree that you get here. And I find that wonderfully refreshing.”

On Chaminade overall
“I would like Chaminade to be known as, both in Hawaii and the mainland, as a jewel of an educational program. … I certainly would like to see us continue to be known for innovative programs and partnering in the community and providing that Marianist education with all of the things we talked about earlier. So some of it is to be known and to be a university of choice both for many people here in Hawaii and for others on the mainland because I think that the diversity of bringing students from other parts of the country is really great for everybody. And we want to grow that. But people don’t know about us so we’re working on that.”

On the Chaminade students
“I think students graduate here with the sense that you know the world’s bigger than just them, and they want to give back and make the world a better place in the work they do and in the lives they made. And that’s, you know, hopefully the outcome of a Marianist education.”

On what Chaminade needs to improve
“There’s so many great things about Chaminade, but one of the areas that we’re working on hard is getting out name out there. And having people understand who we are and all the great work we do. And also, you know, we have lots of innovative programs here and develop programs that really provide students, graduates with the opportunity to live and work here in Hawaii in areas where jobs are needed.”

“It’s a pivotal time in higher-ed and here at Chaminade. We are so well positioned. We have a 4-year guarantee so families can say, ‘This is how much money it’s going to cost over 4 years, and I know my kids can graduate on time if they’re going full time, etcetera. etcetera.’ That’s one thing, and the other piece of it is that our students graduate and get jobs. We’ve have great job placement rates so the return on investment is huge.”

On the public’s impression of Chaminade
“We want people to look at Chaminade as an opportunity, here on the mainland, here in Hawaii. And then they can go on the mainland in the summers, as many of our students do, for these great job possibilities and internships.”

On Chaminade’s enrollment
“I think enrollment is a challenge. We’ve hired a new enrollment management person who has reorganized admissions and recruitment and that will have an immediate effect.”