Sen. Daniel K. Inouye’s vision comes to life: UH Hilo’s new College of Pharmacy building dedicated

The $31-million, 45,000-square-foot, two-story building is a contemporary design with classrooms for applied learning, high-fidelity simulations, and distance audio-visual communications. There are also multiple lab spaces, a simulated pharmacy facility, offices, a student community center, and myriad gathering and study areas.

By Susan EnrightPhotos by Raiatea Arcuri.

Two-story building, contemporary design, angled red rooftop, lots of windows, newly planted gardens in front. Signage: Daniel. K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, University of Hawaii at Hilo.
New building for the UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. Photos by Raiatea Arcuri/UH Hilo Stories, click to enlarge.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy hosted a community celebration on Wednesday to dedicate and bless the college’s new permanent building recently completed at the UH Hilo University Park of Science and Technology.

Hawaiian protocols and blessing ceremony were led by Kumu Moses Crabbe and the UH Hilo Kīpaepae Committee.

A rainy Hilo day, attendees of the ceremonies first gathered in a large tent for opening remarks.

“As the only college of pharmacy in the Pacific Rim, we are the academic cornerstone for the most advanced level of pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical science research,” says the dean of college, Carolyn Ma. “Our students, taught by our exceptional faculty and supported by dedicated staff, can continue living our mission to improve the health throughout the state of Hawai‘i and the Pacific Rim.”

Other speakers and distinguished attendees at the dedication event: UH President David Lassner; Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin; UH Regent Wayne HigakiKen Inouye and Irene Hirano-Inouye representing the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye; Jessica Toyama, president of the inaugural class of 2011; several elected officials; and others. UH Hilo Chancellor Emerita Rose Tseng and former Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai also attended.

“This college is built on the premise that our ultimate responsibility is to help lift up the people of our island, our state, and region, and we do this through answering the needs of our local communities,” says Chancellor Irwin. “And one of the most pressing needs in our state and region is the continuous improvement of health services.”

“It was a very emotional day for me to see this building here after all of the work that everyone has put into it,” says pharmacy student Lillian Tran. “Not only is this building concrete, I don’t know if they realize they’ve made so many people’s dreams also become concrete.”

Following opening remarks, attendees gathered at the main entrance of the new building for blessing and then tours of the facilities.

The $31-million, 45,000-square-foot, two-story building features a unique and contemporary design by WCIT Architecture with classrooms that accommodate applied learning, high-fidelity simulations, and distance audio-visual communications. There are also multiple lab spaces, a simulated pharmacy facility, faculty and staff offices, a student community center and study areas. The building is targeted to meet the requirements for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.

Group of pharmacy students in their white coats pose for photo on lanai of new building.
Group of pharmacy students on the upper level of the new building after opening ceremonies.

Established in 2006, the college admitted its inaugural class in 2007, and has graduated 744 doctor of pharmacy students and five doctor of philosophy students.

The current student body of 300 represents one of the most diverse academic populations in the country: 60 percent from Hawai‘i, with 40 percent from 24 continental states, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Kenya, South Korea and Taiwan.

Classes will be held in the new building beginning in January 2020.

“It’s amazing to finally see Daniel K. Inouye’s vision come to life,” says pharmacy student Shane Naeole. “I am so honored to be a part of it, being native Hawaiian, and being able to connect to my culture with my future profession.”

Lattice fascia.


Photos by Raiatea Arcuri, a professional photographer majoring in business administration with a concentration in finance at UH Hilo. 

Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.

UH System News contributed to this story.

Update: Video released Dec. 6

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