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Peter Giles named new MKAEC director

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Date: Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Contact: Dr. Rose Tseng, (808) 974-7444

For Immediate Release

Dr. Rose Tseng, chancellor of the University of Hawaii at Hilo , today announced the selection of Peter B. Giles as director of the Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center (MKAEC), effective September 1, 2005. Giles, who served 18 years as president and CEO at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California, replaces Dr. Marlene Nachbar Hapai who is resigning August 31, 2005 for personal reasons.

“We are pleased and extremely fortunate to have a director for MKAEC with the museum leadership experience of Peter Giles,” said Tseng. “Peter’s background includes building and operating ‘The Tech,’ a world-class technology learning center and visitor attraction, as well as his service on the Board of Directors for the Association of Science and Technology Centers and the San Jose Convention and Visitors Bureau. His experience will prove invaluable as we prepare to open our own world-class interpretive learning center and visitor attraction to the public.”

Giles, who called MKAEC “an institution of extraordinary promise for Hawai‘i’s future,” said that his top three priorities are “to place the MKAEC on a solid financial basis, to build the image and reality of the MKAEC as the ‘must see’ destination in the Pacific and to establish the MKAEC as an educational center with a reputation on par with the world-class reputation of Mauna Kea’s astronomy research.”

According to Giles, “The Center is well-positioned through its linking of astronomy and Hawaiian culture to inspire Hawai`i’s youth to set their sights on careers in science and technology.”

The Center, slated to open at year end, has attracted $27 million in federal funding through NASA, and will be supported by admissions and fees, corporate, individual, and public funding. The Center will feature a state-of-the-art laser planetarium, an object theater, a 3D Journey through Time and Space, engaging visitors in the fascinating discoveries of astronomy with compelling glimpses into linkages to Hawaiian traditions.

Tseng said that Hapai, professor and former dean of the University of Hawai`i, who has been director of the Center and planetarium-in-progress since January 2004, “was the right leader to bring the Center forward from concept to the impressive institution taking shape in the University Park of Science and Technology.”

“The potential is limitless,” Hapai said. “I have been involved at some level from the very beginning and I hope to stay involved as time and opportunity permits.

“This Center, along with all the other science facilities that have opened on the Big Island, is a dream-come-true for me,” she added. “This has truly been a labor of love for me and I envision success for MKAEC and for Peter as its new director. I also ask the community to give Peter and the Center the support needed to make the Center that ‘must visit’ jewel Hilo can be proud of.”

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