The legislature, listening tours and a Presidential CenterLegislature
The state Legislature opened its 2013 session this month to significant changes in leadership in both the house and senate.
UH administration and staff attended budget briefings in both houses. On the senate side, all 10 UH chancellors testified before the Ways and Means Committee. Committee members had some thoughtful questions, as did the house Budget and Finance committee, and administrators are following up.Listening tours
Listening tours of all 10 campuses and the Palamanui West Hawaii site wrapped up this month. I attended the forums with members of the Board of Regents. The listening tours produced great interaction and ideas from students, faculty, staff and the general public. The feedback focused on local or campus issues, including class availability and classes that students would like to see offered at the university.Hawaii Presidential Center inaugural gala
I just returned from Washington, D.C. where I saw President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. I also assisted with the highly successful public launch of the effort to bring an Obama Presidential Center or Library to Hawaii.
Hawaiian Electric Industries sponsored the gala, which was attended by more than 300 people, including Hawaii’s congressional delegation, neighbor island mayors, AOL founder Steve Case and UH faculty member, author and First Sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, who spoke impressively about the project. A group has been working since the 2009 inauguration on the concept of bringing a presidential center or library in some form to the islands and the university is very involved with the project.
Construction at UH
The University of Hawaii is looking forward to an exciting spring semester. The long awaited UH Cancer Center opens in February. The center was completed four months ahead of schedule and nearly $16 million under budget. There are now more than 100 cancer research projects actively being conducted at the center, bringing in an annual $25 to $30 million dollars in grant-funded research into the state.
The new Information Technology building is also set to come on line, which will mean great improvements in high-speed broadband communications.
We also hope to start construction on our West Hawaii campus at Palamanui on the Big Island. The first phase will cover about 24,000 square feet and include classrooms, learning kitchens and science labs. When complete, Palamanui will be the 11th permanent campus of the University of Hawaii System.