Hānau ʻO Waiʻōlino: College of Business and Economics gets a New Home

News Editor: Aspen Mauch

Photographers: Zach Gorski and Aspen Mauch

The new College of Business and Economics (CoBE) facility officially opened on Friday, September 16, 2016, with a bilingual blessing. For Hawaiians, this traditional ceremony is a very spiritual event, and faculty members were instructed to not wear black, instead donning earth-toned colors. Attendees were also politely asked not to speak or engage in daily conversation during the blessing of the four corners of the building. “Out of respect for the local culture, if we're going to operate here we need to buy into what it is to be a part of this community,” said Drew Martin, Professor of Marketing and recently-installed Dean of CoBE.

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The program included a traditional oli (Hawaiian chant), hula and musical performances, fresh Hawaiian food, and the formal naming of the building: Hānau ʻO Waiʻōlino. “Because we are looking at providing a name that belongs to this place, which is Hilo, Hawaiʻi, we decided that maybe we needed to look at our Hawaiian understandings of giving names,” said Larry Kimura, Associate Professor of Hawaiian Language and Hawaiian Studies.

Waiʻōlino literally translates to “sparkling waters,” the water that flows smoothly. According to Kimura, in Hawaiʻi, the smoothly flowing waters radiates “shine and glimmer” that indicates wellbeing and prosperity.

“Waiʻōlino is the waters of prosperity,” Kimura said. “The glimmer and sheen of birds’ feathers also represents wealth in Hawaiian culture, a state of wellbeing and robustness. So wai, or water, is an essential element for life to exist in our culture, in all of our world. When we duplicate the word “wai” into “wai-wai,” that equates to richness and affluence, which we hope the College of Business [and Economics] will have as a goal for its program. Hawaiian culture strives to be mindful of the natural world as its guide and measure, so such worthy goals would be incorporated into the name for the building… Waiʻōlino, “sparkling water.”

Waiʻōlino promises to be a rich learning center that will not only serve professors and administration, but students and members of the community alike. “The new building has impacted the college tremendously,” Martin said. “It has given us a home, a center; the pride that we have in this building is tremendous. When I first arrived at UH Hilo, the business school was really located in more than one place. We had faculty in three different buildings, and some of the facilities were really, well, used. To finally have a home after all these years, a place that we can turn into a center for learning and sharing ideas about business, is just amazing.”

Martin hopes that the completion of Waiʻōlino will help strengthen the bond between students and CoBE. “I want this to be a community place, a place where we can meet, and learn, and share,” Martin said. “I want to show it [Waiʻōlino] off, I want to wear out the carpet, because that means we have a lot of people coming in here and enjoying it.”

Waiʻōlino contains a plaza, faculty offices, and a large, multi-purpose room intended to be used for various meetings and events, as well as a place where students will be able to study and work on projects. Although Waiʻōlino is officially open for business, there are still plans to include additional features to the facility and further expansion in the near future. “We probably have another year of working to get it the way we want it,” Martin said. “When you walk in, we want to have a big flat television screen set that's going to be able to show you events, pictures of things that are happening, a calendar, etc.”

Aside from the new facility, CoBE is also working on improving internal affairs within the department, as well as issues concerning the curriculum: “We’re revising our business minor to make it more streamlined,” Martin said. “We hope to have many, if not all, of those (business minor) classes online as well so it doesn’t conflict with students that are getting majors in other areas. For students who are studying nursing, marine biology, astronomy, geology, [etc.], a business minor would be fabulous to add to what their major is. I think our minor program could potentially be larger than our major, because we can offer something that a lot of students will find useful in their chosen careers.”

For more information about CoBE, visit: http://business.uhh.hawaii.edu.