Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Celebrating HPU's Birthday

Forty-nine years ago, back in 1965, Hawai‘i’s population was around 650,000 and tourists numbered 600,000. It was the first year of Duke Kahanamoku’s surfing championship and cars could still drive through Fort Street Mall.

On Sept. 17, 1965, the state of Hawai‘i granted a charter of incorporation to our university — then Hawaii Pacific College. This marked the culmination of a remarkable idea that brewed in the minds of four community-minded citizens — Eureka Forbes, Paul C.T. Loo, Elizabeth W. Kellerman, and the Rev. Edmond Walker. These four leaders had a vision to meet a community need to establish an independent, nonsectarian liberal arts college.

The higher education system in Hawai‘i was relatively young back then. There was the University of Hawai‘i, which had been founded in 1907, and Chaminade, established in 1955. Hawai‘i Pacific University became a higher education alternative for the people of Hawai‘i.

The late Paul Loo shared that the founders of Hawai‘i Pacific University concentrated on serving a student population who worked in downtown Honolulu. It was an educational model Loo had first-hand experience with as a recent alumnus of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Students working downtown would have convenient access to higher education and the hands-on know-how of business professionals who would serve as instructors. It was a win-win model — for students, businesses and the college.

Today, while much has changed at our university, much remains the same. The university’s core campus remains in the heart of Honolulu’s business district, providing HPU students unique access to internship and career opportunities, as well as the excitement of a world-renowned city setting.

Complementary to HPU’s main urban campus, we have campuses at Makapu‘u Point, Kane‘ohe and Oahu’s military bases, offering more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including online programs, to students from all 50 U.S. states and nearly 80 nations.

While our make-up of students now extends beyond students working in downtown Honolulu, and our campus-geography and academic programs have expanded, there is one thing that has not changed. We have been here for 49 years and stand firm on our long-term commitment to serve the state and its people.

On this day, as we celebrate the university’s birthday and look to the future, let us pay tribute to those who had the foresight to establish and the passion to build Hawai‘i Pacific University. In addition to the four original founders, there are many individuals worthy of acknowledgment, including former President Chatt Wright, former Chairs of the Board Robert Black and William Aull, among others.

The countdown to HPU’s 50th anniversary on Sept. 17, 2015, begins!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ke Ola Hou: New Life

Last week marked the start of the academic year at Hawai‘i Pacific University, and the university is bustling with activity — in the classrooms, laboratories, libraries and hallways. It is always a wonderful time of year with new and continuing students and faculty back on campus, looking forward to new courses, new friends, new professors and new experiences.

As students, faculty and staff, proceed with their business of the academic year, another kind of activity is in high gear at the university. At Aloha Tower Marketplace, crews are on site, working on the university’s project to revitalize it. They are continuing with interior demolition of the first and second floors and completing emergency roof repair. By next year at this time, we plan that HPU will have enthusiastically welcomed its students and faculty back to the newly opened facility and celebrate its 50th anniversary on Sept. 17.

The Marketplace will be home to approximately 300 resident students, who will be living in modern loft spaces, overlooking the waterfront. In addition to living spaces, there will be learning and campus-activity spaces, including a Student Learning Commons, Student-Faculty Lounge, three Multi-purpose Centers, and activity and gathering spaces for the entire HPU community and our neighbors.

As for Pier 10, we have received questions on its possible usages. To clarify, HPU does not own Pier 10 — rather the university has a space lease for a portion of it and a license to park there. This has always been the case. We conceptually intended Pier 10 as the site for an HPU athletics facility. However, NCAA space regulations do not make it a viable venue option. Moving forward, one of our goals is to secure space and the funding needed to build an athletics facility. The “Sharks” will have a home gym — one where the whole campus community will be able to come to cheer them on with pride and unity.

Dr. Bannister visits ATM with HPU Admission staff.
Beyond HPU-specific uses, Aloha Tower Marketplace will be a cultural, entertainment and intellectual hub for the larger Hawai‘i community and tourists to enjoy, too. There will be “New Life” there — people taking part in public seminars, including HPU’s recently announced Presidential Lecture Series on Global Leadership and Sustainable Development, buying books at the Barnes & Noble College-run Bookstore, eating at the restaurants and shopping, and getting to know HPU’s students.

Just as Aloha Tower had a flurry of activity in the 1930s on Boat Days, that is our vision for our revitalization of Aloha Tower Marketplace. For our students, alumni, faculty and staff, it will be a world-class center for higher education. For the larger community and visitors to the Islands, it will be a dynamic gathering space. Over the coming months, we look forward to keeping you updated on the progress of the project including frequent tours for campus community members interested in seeing the progress firsthand. Organized tours are currently planned to begin in November.

For many years, HPU, Hawai‘i’s leading urban university, has been the anchor of Fort Street Mall, and soon the Aloha Tower project, will cement the anchor and be a hub of Honolulu.

Geoffrey Bannister