Skip to content →

Category: News

UH Hilo College of Hawaiian Language breaks ground

The new building to house the College of Hawaiian Language promises to be both functional and extraordinarily beautiful, with profound symbolic and spiritual elements.

Large group of students coming down dirt drive, headed by Kalena Silva.
UH Hilo students, faculty, staff, administrators and members of the community walk to the piko or central point of the parcel for the groundbreaking of UH Hilo’s new College of Hawaiian Language building. At left is Kalena Silva, director of the college.

A bilingual blessing and groundbreaking was held on Saturday for permanent facilities for University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

The opening ceremonies were conducted in Hawaiian. A genealogical presentation acknowledged native speakers who assisted in Hawaiian language teaching at UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College dating back to 1960. Lydia Makuakane, the eldest living of those native speakers, led a procession to the groundbreaking site, where she turned the soil at the piko or central core of the parcel. The event concluded with remarks by representatives from the UH and elected officials.

UH Hilo Chancellor Straney at podium speaking to crowd at groundbreaking ceremonies.
UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney addresses the audience at groundbreaking ceremonies. Seated at left are Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi, and to his left, UH President MRC Greenwood.

“This building promises to be both functional and extraordinarily beautiful, with profound symbolic and spiritual elements,” said UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney. “It’s a building to match the quality of the programs offered by the College of Hawaiian Language.”

Gerald De Mello, director of university relations, said the project enjoyed widespread support, but it took a coordinated team effort to secure the funding.

“This was a major accomplishment since very few initiatives were funded this past session,” De Mello said. “Our Big Island delegation led by House Higher Education Chairman Jerry Chang in concert with his Senate counterpart Jill Tokuda really came through for us. We were also fortunate to have the strong support of UH President M.R.C. Greenwood and then-Governor Linda Lingle.”

Kalena Silva, director of the college, says the new building will not only address the college’s growing pains but lay a foundation for the future.

“With this building we can expand both our graduate and undergraduate programs, which are key to taking the college to the next level,” Silva explained. “We also look forward to raising our profile on the international stage by hosting gatherings with indigenous people who look at our programs as potential models for language revitalization in their communities.”

The building already has won critical acclaim by capturing the 2010 American Institute of Architects Honolulu Design Award in the category of “Commissioned Work to be Built.” The design by WCIT Architects of Honolulu features spectacular landscape, mountain and ocean views, and designs which reflect Native Hawaiian culture and the Big Island’s natural resources.

The college awarded UH Hilo’s first master’s and PhD degrees as it gained national prominence as a leader in indigenous language and cultural revitalization, added new programs like linguistics, and witnessed a surge in enrollment.

Link to full press release.

Link to video of the event.

Photos of the event by Walter Dudoit.

Comments closed

Groundbreaking ceremonies for new UH Hilo Student Services Building

“High quality services to students help them get the most out of their university experience. This building will make it much easier to gain access to the excellent staff who guide and assist students throughout their college years from initial admission to graduation and beyond.” -Chancellor Donald Straney

Group of dignitaries with shovels.
Dignitaries stand while the grounds for the new Student Services Building are blessed.

A blessing and groundbreaking for the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo new Student Services Center was held today at the project site fronting the Performing Arts Center.

“High quality services to students help them get the most out of their university experience,” said Chancellor Donald Straney. “This building will make it much easier to gain access to the excellent staff who guide and assist students throughout their college years from initial admission to graduation and beyond.”

The 35,000 square-foot, three-story structure will provide a one-stop shop to complete all the activities needed to become a full-fledged student at UH Hilo and complete registration for classes under one roof. The Center will also house all of the programs that students need to support their college success: Admissions Office; Office of the Registrar; Financial Aid Services; and the Cashier’s Office will be located on the first floor. The Advising Center, Career Development Services, Disability Services, Counseling Services, the Women’s Center and the new Health Promotion Program will be located on the second floor while the Offices of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students and other student support staff will be located on the third floor.

Dr. Luoluo Hong, vice chancellor for student affairs, says the Center represents a giant, positive step forward in changing the way the University meets students’ needs.

“Being sent to the distant corners of the campus to meet with an advisor, register for classes, obtain financial aid or to pay fees can be frustrating,” Hong said. “This building will reduce the run-around and enable us to deliver these important services in a more timely manner.”

Dr. Debra Fitzsimons, vice chancellor for administrative affairs, sees the Student Services Center as another element of innovation that is becoming common-place among universities.

“One-stop student service centers are fast becoming the trend in servicing students on campuses across the United States,” Fitzsimons explained. “This is a convenience students are coming to expect when they enroll at a university and we’re pleased that this new building will enable us to provide it.”

Despite numerous requests and limited resources, House Higher Education Committee Chair Jerry Chang said there was broad-based support for the project.

“The Legislature and the Board of Regents wholeheartedly agreed that the Student Services Center was a major priority for UH Hilo,” Chang said. “Quality support for the needs of students is an important part of the educational experience.”

The $15.9 million building was designed by Urban Works, Inc. of Honolulu and will be built by Jacobsen Construction of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The building is tentatively scheduled to open in 2012. It will replace the existing Student Services Building, which will become the new home of the College of Business and Economics.

Comments closed