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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 3, 2010

University of Hawaii president says UH is part of economic solution

Advertiser Staff

In the first address to a joint session of the state Legislature by a University of Hawai‘i president, M.R.C. Greenwood today told lawmakers that UH “is part of the solution to our current economic problem.”

In her speech in the Senate chambers, Greenwood told lawmakers that UH is focusing on “three broad strategic objectives that will serve the state well into the future” by:

  • Increasing the number of educated citizens in the state of Hawai‘i;
  • Contributing to the workforce and the economy; and
  • Advancing the University of Hawai‘i’s reputation for excellence and its ability to build the state’s capacity.”
    “Today, I announce that we will create the Hawai‘i Graduation Initiative to increase the number of college graduates by 25 percent by the year 2015,” Greenwood said to applause. “The Hawai‘i Graduation Initiative will focus on access, affordability, and student success. Simply put, we want more local students to attend and graduate from the University of Hawaii.
    “Be assured, the University of Hawai‘i is committed to increasing Hawai‘i’s ‘educational capital’ by increasing the participation and success of students, particularly Native Hawaiian, lower-income students, and those from underserved regions.
    “We are committed to supporting the access and success of Native Hawaiians. We are making headway and we are fortunate to have partners along this path. For example, the community colleges through the Achieving the Dream initiative and with the support from OHA and Kamehameha Schools have increased Native Hawaiian student enrollment by over 50 percent and are working to ensure that every one of these students can succeed.
    “Increasing our educational capital also means helping students overcome affordability barriers to higher education. We have made extraordinary strides this year in helping our students receive the aid they are eligible for and we have quadrupled our financial aid reserves for Hawai‘i residents. This year, we have over 13,000 students awarded the Federal Pell Grant, far exceeding our 2009 goal of by almost 240 percent. With the work of our dedicated staff, we have awarded nearly $50 million in financial assistance to our students this year."

    Greenwood also told lawmakers that “Decades of inadequate investment in our facilities are hindering the University of Hawai‘i in this regard. This limits what our faculty and students can achieve, reduces federal investment in our institution, and as the Gartley Hall situation demonstrates, it can even threaten the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. This must change. ...
    “Today, we announce Project Renovate to Innovate.
    “Our goals are to rebuild our infrastructure, bring indirect cost rates in line with the peer institutions across the country, and increase creation of small businesses based on the Univeristy of Hawaiçi’s technological developments.
    “The university has achieved truly extraordinary growth in extramural funding, earning over $400 million in contracts and grants for research and training last fiscal year and over $270 million in the first half of this year alone. If the current rate of growth can be sustained for the remainder of the decade, it would yield the state a billion dollars a year in 2020 — a billion.
    “Make no mistake that we will need additional funding in the future to achieve the growth and support the faculty and staff who make all this possible will need. But we know the challenges that all you are facing this session, and that's why our operating budget request is modest and we have focused on a general obligation bond support for shovel-ready capital renovations and improvements. Our immediate goals are to improve our campus environment for students, enhance our volume of federal and private support, and spur the job creation to help stimulate the local economy.”