Students, faculty and staff need and deserve well-maintained and up-to-date facilities that support modern teaching, learning, innovation and scholarship.
By Chancellor Don Straney
The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is committed to providing our students and faculty with the labs and equipment needed to move our island and state into the future. Last month, we celebrated the groundbreaking of the new home for the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. This building establishes the pharmacy college as an integral part of the state of Hawaiʻi and is symbolic of the direction UH Hilo is going.
The $33 million, 35,000-square foot pharmacy building is an example of the progress the UH System is making with its 21st Century Facilities initiative to modernize facilities and campus environments across the state to be safe, sustainable and supportive of modern practices in teaching, learning and research.
Facilities and campus environments must support 21st century higher education expectations and practices. Students, faculty and staff need and deserve well-maintained and up-to-date facilities that support modern teaching, learning, innovation and scholarship.
We need to be sure our students are learning in the same type of modern environments in which they will be working. The university’s facilities must be fully digitally enabled, flexible in use, and be efficient with energy, water and waste.
Our labs, offices, and equipment must be able to support cutting edge research. New facilities like the upcoming pharmacy building open up possibilities for our students and faculty. The ability to do more pharmacy research will have a great impact on the state. Students will be ready to step into the health care jobs of the future because they will know what it’s like to work in a modern lab.
Moving our university fully into the 21st century also requires us to be supportive of deep collaborations with partners across the state, nation and the world.
For example, UH is currently updating the teaching telescopes on Maunakea to improve key facilities for training undergraduate and graduate students in astronomy.
In a historic collaboration, UH Mānoa, though the Institute for Astronomy, and UH Hilo, through our Department of Physics and Astronomy, are combining efforts to modernize the UH 2.2m and the UH Hilo Hoku Ke‘a observatories on Maunakea. These projects are state supported through capital improvement project funds and will result in stronger astronomy programs for both institutions.
In addition, having modernized equipment and labs means we can respond better to the needs of our community.
For example, when disaster strikes such as Tropical Storm Iselle, marine science researchers can respond better, do their analysis faster, and help a community in need more efficiently. The same goes for the UH Hilo geologists and geographers currently providing critical information about the Puna lava flow to Hawai‘i County Civil Defense.
The UH 21st Century Facilities initiative focuses on providing critical infrastructure for the university system. UH Hilo is committed to the task. It’s what a good university can and should do for its community, state and region.
I wish you all a very Happy New Year.