The University of Hawaii Manoa chose one of its own to serve as the new dean of the College of Education starting next year, naming a professor and graduate chair of the college’s Department of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Science to the position Monday.

Nathan Murata, a former educator, was selected from three finalists to the deanship, UH said in a press release. He replaces the current dean, Donald Young, who is stepping down at the end of the year after five years in the leadership role and more than four decades at UH Manoa.

Murata has built a career around the areas of education, specifically special education, physical education and athletics, according to his biography. Formerly assistant professor at Chaminade University’s College of Education and assistant professor at University of Toledo’s Department of Health and Human Performance, Murata joined UH’s College of Ed in 1997 as assistant professor, rising to KRS department chair in 2004 and again in 2013.

Dr. Nathan Murata

Courtesy University of Hawaii Manoa

The UH Manoa graduate, who also has a doctorate in health, physical education, recreation and dance from Ohio State University, will take aim at the Hawaii teacher shortage by emphasizing teaching and research and cross-disciplinary collaborative teaching, according to UH.

“Professor Murata has a passion for teaching and for bringing leading-edge research into the classroom,” said Michael Bruno, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and vice chancellor for research, in a statement. “When combined with his impressive accomplishments across the broad spectrum of secondary and higher education, scholarship and academic administration, he is the perfect person to lead the college as it continues to expand its impact at UH Manoa and throughout the state.”

Murata, whose contract is initially for one year at a salary of $180,000, will step into the role as the College of Education faces declining enrollment that impacts the teacher pipeline for Hawaii public schools.

Last year, the college enrolled about 1,800 students across its degree spectrum. It’s also trying to woo more teacher candidates through a “Grow Our Own” initiative that will train educational assistants and substitutes through a $600,000 state appropriation.

During his UH College of Education tenure, Murata came up with the pre/K-12 teacher curriculum for education majors and led the physical education teacher program, according to the UH press release.

Prior to entering a career in higher ed, Murata also taught special education and physical education at a Honolulu public school and served as director of Saint Louis School’s athletics department, according to UH.

Murata could not be reached for comment on Monday. He beat out two other finalists, including Michael Sampson, the dean and professor of St. John’s University, and DeLacy Ganley, Professor and Director of the Department of Teacher Education of the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University.

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