History of UH Hilo
A timeline of growth from branch campus to internationally recognized university.
On this page:
The Hilo Program, located on Haili Street, begins as an extension division of UH Mānoa.
The Hilo Program is renamed the University of Hawaiʻi-Hilo Center.
The Center is renamed the University of Hawaiʻi-Hilo Branch with an enrollment of 100 students.
Hilo Branch opens a new permanent campus on Lanikaula Street with the construction of College Hall and a gymnasium at a cost of $385,000. Enrolled in the two-year school were 155 students who were offered concentrations in the arts and sciences and courses in education, business administration, and engineering.
The four-year UH Hilo is established, enrollment tops 1,000 with several dozen professors.
Center of Continuing Education and Community Service is founded, later transforms into College of Continuing Education and Community Service in 1991.
College of Agriculture is founded. Name changes in 1998 to College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Management.
College of Arts and Sciences is established (formerly Hilo College).
New Athletics Complex opens.
Edwin H. Mookini Library the Edith Kanaka‘ole Hall classroom and office building open.
Construction begins on 250-bed dormitory and dining hall complex.
In 1990, UH Hilo’s University Park of Science and Technology opens on campus under UH Hilo management. The first tenants are several base facilities for international observatories with telescopes on Mauna Kea. Soon after, the Smithsonian Array base facilities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry complex, and the U.S.D.A. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center open. In 2006, UH Hilo opens its ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. By 2007, total investment of tenants at the park is $800 million with the creation of over 400 jobs.
Up to this point, UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College, located across the street from each other, operate almost as a single unit with students able to cross register at either campus. Now the two are separated into two institutions, although still share facilities and services.
College of Hawaiian Language is founded and is named Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani.
$3 million Marine Science Building opens. It is the first new major building on campus in 20 years, providing classrooms, labs and offices for growing Marine Science program.
$19 million three-story University Classroom Building opens. With lecture halls, classrooms, labs and offices, it provides additional space for expansion. Located at the new main entrance to campus, it is UH Hilo’s signature building.
- The School of Business becomes the College of Business and Economics.
- The Western Association for Schools and Colleges reaffirms UH Hilo’s accreditation through 2014.
- College of Pharmacy is founded. In Fall 2007, the inaugural class commences and the college gains pre-candidate accreditation status, the first and only pharmacy college in the state to do so. In 2011, the college receives full accreditation when its first cohort of PharmD students graduates. In 2013, the college is renamed the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy in honor of Hawaiʻi’s late senior senator and the college’s greatest champion.
- ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi opens on campus at the University Park of Science and Technology.
UH Hilo celebrates its 60th anniversary.
Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language presents two doctorates in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization, the first doctoral degrees awarded at UH Hilo.
The new Sciences and Technology Building opens.
- The new student housing complex Hale ʻAlahonua opens (see Hale ʻAlahonua story and video). The first new student housing project since 1989 is a $32.5 million dollar structure made up of three, three-story residential wings that house approximately 300 students, increasing on-campus housing by more than 30 percent.
- The new UH Hilo Bookstore opens, serving both UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College (see story and video).
- The new Student Services Building opens. (2011 story on groundbreaking has info on structure and offices.)
- Haleʻōlelo opens, the new permanent building for Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.
- Two academic programs changed from provisional to established status, the Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and the Master of Arts in Indigenous Language and Culture Education.
- UH Hilo is ranked by the Chronicle of Higher Education as the most diverse four-year public campus in the country.
- The Doctor of Nursing Practice program receives accreditation.
- Two certificate programs are established in pharmacy studies: Certificate in Healthcare Leadership and Certificate in Health Science Research.
- UH Board of Regents approves new Certificate in Pre-Law.
- College of Business and Economics moves into newly renovated building.
- Campus Center Dining Room undergoes major renovations.
- New Certificate in Unmanned Aircraft Systems is established.
- A new gathering place for UH Hilo students is built comprised of a fully renovated outdoor basketball court, now with adjacent grills, picnic tables, and solar e-charging stations.
- New College of Natural and Health Sciences is established. The college is comprised of existing academic units in natural sciences, nursing, kinesiology and exercise science.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education once again ranks UH Hilo as the most diverse four-year public university in the United States.
- Several solar powered recharging stations are built throughout campus with seating, USB ports, Wi-Fi access, and a unique roof and gutter system to keep students dry during Hilo’s rainy weather.
- A new Certificate in Data Science is established.
- UH Regents approve provisional Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Sciences.
- New building opens for the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy.
- Extensive renovations are done at the Mookini Library Lobby and Lanai.
- Once again, U.S. News and World Report ranks UH Hilo as most ethnically diverse campus among national universities.
- Groundbreaking ceremony held for new soccer field, softball field, and multi-purpose athletic facility.
- Certificate in Indigenous Public Health is established.
- UH Hilo retains #1 ranking for most ethnically diverse campus.
- New research facility to study volcanoes and earthquakes is planned for UH Hilo campus.
Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of UH Hilo Graphics Services.