The Psychology Department is located on the second floor of a modern, 3-story building constructed in 2002, which is officially referred to as the "University Classroom Building" (UCB). This multi-purpose building incorporates classrooms, faculty and administration offices, meeting rooms, student resource rooms, computer and research labs. Open, breezy patios on every floor, some with ocean and mountain views, provide space for socializing and rest, whereas spacious, air-conditioned classrooms and offices with tinted glass windows ensure comfortable conditions for work and study. In addition to regular and tiered classrooms equipped with sophisticated computer and multimedia technology, the Department of Psychology has specialized training facilities designed to accommodate undergraduate and graduate courses, which include experiments and observations. All of the Psychology faculty have offices in UCB with easy and convenient access to classrooms, conference rooms, and college and division administration. Whereas some research labs are located in different buildings, those are within a short walking distance (3-5 minutes). The campus is small, and most of its facilities are situated in close proximity to each other. Besides, UCB is centrally located on campus and connected with the Campus Center, Library, and many other buildings via covered walkways. The later can be particularly handy when it rains much, which is not uncommon in Hilo. The building has many open computer labs for students, which provide access to the Internet, UH services, library resources, and specialized software utilized in various classes. Additionally, UCB has an extensive wireless network, which allows for connecting to the Internet from virtually anywhere.
The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is a small state university with approximately 225 faculty and 4100 students in 36 undergraduate and 8 graduate programs and a growing program of significant research. It combines the friendliness and intimacy of a small college and small class sizes (40% of all classes have less than 20 students) with access to some of the research resources and opportunities that are typically available at much larger universities. Compared with institutions of similar size, UH Hilo has a much higher than average rate of extramural research funding and offers students many opportunities to participate in federally- and state-funded research in a variety of disciplines. Another attraction of UH Hilo is the diversity of both the local and student populations. According to the U.S. Census, the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, home to the UH Hilo, is the most diverse county in the United States, whereas UH Hilo has been consistently named one of the most diverse American universities. Diversity is celebrated and embraced here: Hawaiʻi and UH Hilo are both known for their welcoming “aloha spirit” and for harmonious relations between people from different ethnic backgrounds.
UH Hilo is a growing educational institution. It is currently undergoing a transformation from a 4-year, liberal arts college into a comprehensive university with numerous Master's and Doctoral level programs. For the past 10 years, there has been a considerable growth in student enrollment, which is expected to reach 5,000 in the near future. The campus infrastructure has also been expanding. In 2006, a state-of-the-art Astronomy Education Center was added to the UH Hilo attractions. 2008 was marked by the completion of a new Student Life Center, which incorporates an olympic size pool and numerous exercise facilities. The most recent additions to the campus infrastructure include Science and Technology building, College of Hawaiian Studies building, Student Services building and additional student dormitories. Last year the state had also allocated financial resources needed to build modern facilities for the Collegge of Pharmacy. Nevertheless, there is still a shortage of space and facilities, particularly specialized research labs.
The UH Hilo campus is situated in Hilo, a peaceful town with a population of about 50,000, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 200 air miles from Honolulu and 2500 miles from the West Coast of the United States. First and foremost, Hilo is known for its natural beauty: Spectacular ocean and mountain views, picturesque waterfalls and lush vegetation make it one of the most attractive areas in Hawaiʻi. Known as the “rainiest city in the United States”, Hilo, nevertheless, is characterized by a generally pleasant weather, because most rainfall is in the evening and at night. The daytime temperature stays within a comfortable range of 75-85 degrees year round. Despite its relatively small size, Hilo is the second largest city in Hawaii and administrative center of the County of Hawaii. It has a major harbor and airport and offers all of the modern technological amenities and social services available elsewhere. The university is conveniently located in town, close to the downtown area, shopping malls, and cultural centers. At the same time, many major attractions of the island, such as Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Kea International Astronomy Center, Akaka Falls, etc. are within a short driving distance. The cost of living in Hilo is higher than that of many similar size towns on the U.S. mainland, but it is considerably lower than almost anywhere else in Hawaii and many popular metro areas in the United States, such as San Francisco and the Bay Area in California, Great Boston area in Massachusetts and New York City. Job opportunities in the area are limited, since there are no large corporate businesses based in Hilo. Major employers are tourist businesses and the government. Whereas there are some job openings in health care, education, and human services, the state's economy has been considerably affected by the recent global recession, and the current demand for workers in most occupations available on the island is rather low.
A major advantage of UH Hilo is that it is positioned on the beautiful Big Island of Hawaiʻi, the largest in the Hawaiian Archipelago. With an area of 4,060 square miles, it has more land than all the other Hawaiian islands combined. With its great variety of physical features, including peaks that are snowcapped in winter, pasture lands, tropical rain forest, active volcanoes, and deserts, the Big Island of Hawaii has been described as a tropical mini continent. Due to its unique location and geological features, the Big Island of Hawaii is the only place in the world, where one can visit 11 different climate zones (out of 13 on Earth) in one day. Not surprisingly, UHH was named one of the top 20 outdoor universities in America by Outside Magazine because of the many opportunities for year-round outdoor recreational activities that are available. Popular forms of pastime in Hawaii include surfing, fishing, hunting, swimming, snorkeling, spelunking, scuba diving, sea kayaking, Hawaiian canoe paddling, hiking, biking, tennis, golf, beach volleyball, soccer, baseball, and even downhill skiing and snow boarding on Maunakea. Winter months are also notable for whale watching opportunities, whereas Spring is celebrated with a popular Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long cultural event held annually in Hilo.
Every October, the Big island hosts one of the most prestigious triathlon competitions in the world, Ironman Hawaiʻi, which attracts thousands of top athletes and dozens of thousands of spectators. The Big Island is also known for its international astronomy center. The geographic location, air quality, and accessibility make Hawaiʻi arguably the best spot for astronomical observations in the world. Thus, it is not a surprise that with over a dozen of observatories located on top of Maunakea, at 14,000 feet elevation, and numerous facilities on the UH Hilo campus the Big Island is considered the astronomers' Mecca. Unfortunately, since 2008 the island's environment has been negatively affected by the frequent presence of thick vog (volcanic smog) caused by a very active, continuous eruption of Kilauea. Although its exact effects on humans are not clear, vog appears to produce an allergic reaction characterized by a persistent, flu-like condition in some individuals. For further information on the nature of Hawaiʻi's vog and its effects, see a report by the USGS.