UH West Oahu Is A New Gem In The UH Sys­tem

MidWeek Islander (Central Oahu) - - Central Oahu Islander - Sen. Michelle Ki­dani

sands of students at all 10 cam­puses of the UH sys­tem who look to higher ed­u­ca­tion as a sound in­vest­ment in their fu­tures.

Sup­port­ers of The Lit­tle Cam­pus That Could have shared the vi­sion that UHWO will fill a real need for Cen­tral and Lee­ward Oahu fam­i­lies who have longed for op­por­tu­ni­ties of this kind closer to home. They nur­tured that vi­sion from hum­ble be­gin­nings in the mid-1970s, when classes met in bor­rowed spa­ces, through the years in por­ta­ble build­ings at the edge of Lee­ward Community Col­lege, to be­come what the daily pa­per’s edi- to­rial writ­ers now rightly call “a jewel” in the crown.

Tour­ing the cam­pus prior to the open­ing of classes, and watch­ing the faces of students and fac­ulty on the first day of school, I could feel — and share — their ex­cite­ment. We were all en­cour­aged by the news that the state this month re­leased more than $5 mil­lion in plan­ning and con­struc­tion funds for fur­ther cam­pus ex­pan­sion — car­ry­ing out the strong sup­port demon­strated by the Leg­is­la­ture over the last few years to get the cam­pus up and run­ning to serve sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

Throughout its more than 30-year his­tory, UHWO has of­fered lower tu­ition and flex­i­ble class sched­ules to meet the needs of non­tra­di­tional students. Now this dif­fer­ent cam­pus takes on a more tra­di­tional stu­dent base, and has pledged to ed­u­cate and train Hawaii’s work­force in high-de­mand dis­ci­plines for the fu­ture.

A build­ing to house in­struc­tion in the al­lied health pro­fes­sions — in­clud­ing long-term care pro­fes­sion­als to serve the state’s grow­ing older pop­u­la­tion — is in the works. The Henry Ku‘ualoha Gi­ugni Mov­ing Im­age Ar­chive of Hawaii al­ready is on cam­pus, and a build­ing to house an Academy for Cre­ative Me­dia pro­gram is in the plan­ning stages. Teacher ed­u­ca­tion — es­pe­cially for early learn­ing pro­grams — will be an­other pri­or­ity.

Re­cent ap­provals for ma­jor hous­ing developments in Cen­tral and West Oahu, and the ex­pec­ta­tion of ad­di­tional res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity that come with the rail tran­sit sys­tem now un­der con­struc­tion, all point to suc­cess for UHWO as a vi­brant ed­u­ca­tion cen­ter and cer­tainly a point of pride for neigh­bor­ing com­mu­ni­ties. It’s im­por­tant for the univer­sity pres­i­dent and top ad­min­is­tra­tors to re­mem­ber that there are other cam­puses be­sides Manoa that need nur­tur­ing, and to fol­low through on their com­mit­ment to this ex­cit­ing new ven­ture. UH West Oahu has been wait­ing in the wings for so many years, and shows so much po­ten­tial to play a star­ring role in the 21st cen­tury.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to chan­cel­lor Gene Awakuni, vice chan­cel­lor Donna Kiyosaki and their fac­ulty and staff for their hard work to make this new land­mark cam­pus a re­al­ity.

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