September 13, 2023

A personal message of solidarity with the residents of Maui from Michael S. Spencer, Ballmer Endowed Dean in Social Work

As so many of our community members at the University of Washington School of Social Work have close ties to Hawai'i, our hearts are going out to all those affected by the devastating fires on the island of Maui. 

I am Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawai’ian) and this disaster strikes me at a personal level, as Maui is also my family’s ancestral home. I am certain that many in our region feel Maui’s impact personally due to our connection with family, friends, or as a past visitor to the island. Washington state also has the third largest population of Kānaka Maoli in the U.S., which adds to the relevance to our region.  

At this devastating time, the University of Washington School of Social Work stands with the Maui community, offering our deepest sympathy and support. The fires on Maui serve as a heartbreaking reminder of the delicate balance of our planet's fragile ecosystems, and underscores the vital need to protect these ecosystems, communities, and natural resources for the well-being of present and future generations. The beauty and resilience of Hawai’i is evident in its people, its land, and its culture.  We stand with Kānaka Maoli, the indigenous people of Hawai’i, in their efforts to rebuild, heal, and restore the island's spirit, ensuring that its vibrant communities thrive once more. 


After devastating Maui fires, let’s center people, not tourism
Interview with Dean Michael Spencer by Naomi Ishisaka, The Seattle Times, Aug. 21, 2023