Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hawai‘i Pacific University – Investing in Hawai‘i and in our Future

While we knew our vision for Hawai‘i Pacific University — to become among the top 10 independent private universities in the Western U.S. — was bold, we did not expect how enthusiastically Hawaiʻi would embrace that goal and would want to work with us to achieve it.

We have been appreciative of the tremendous response we received to HPU’s Oceanic Institute’s new initiative to construct a prototype feed mill on Hawai‘i Island. As island residents well know, more than 85 percent of the state’s food is currently imported, making Hawaiʻi particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and global events that disrupt shipping and the food supply. This project — which we’re doing in collaboration with Ulupono Initiative — will advance efforts for long-term food sustainability on the islands.

 Bank of Hawaii foundation donates $125,000 to HPU
Photo by Jesand Amodo
Another recent expression of support for HPU was from the Bank of Hawaii Foundation. Their donation of $125,000 for HPU’s new Learning Commons, which will be a centerpiece of our revitalized Aloha Tower Marketplace, was a vote of confidence in our plan and in our future. The Learning Commons will be a state-of-the-art learning and technology center that will provide students and faculty with a modern space to collaborate, exchange ideas, socialize and learn. We expect other gifts to be announced in the coming weeks from other community supporters.

As the community has invested and supported HPU, we too are investing in the community. A few statistics help capture the significant investment we are making in our students, and in our future. More Hawaiʻi students benefit from scholarships today than five years ago. More total dollars are being allocated for scholarships to Hawaiʻi students – approximately $8 million each year. Nearly 90% of first-year students from Hawaiʻi admitted for this fall semester were offered scholarships. Nearly 70% of Hawaiʻi-based transfer students were offered scholarships. If everyone from the above two groups accepts their offers, nearly $6 million dollars will be awarded to Hawaiʻi students in this entering class alone. Since 2004, the total number of Hawai‘i residents who received scholarships has more than doubled and, since 2009, has increased by 40%. While these statistics are impressive, we are especially proud of the work we do when our students arrive — providing a top-quality, world-class education.

Ultimately we will be measured by how well our students are prepared to join the workforce, create new industries and contribute to their own communities, especially Hawaiʻi. The state is home to more than 17,000 Hawai‘i Pacific University graduates. As such, HPU is a proud contributor to the health and welfare of our state by preparing and nourishing the future leaders of Hawai‘i.

The university’s 50th anniversary in September 2015 will be especially important in Hawaiʻi. While we will acknowledge the achievements of the past 50 years, we will spend most of our time thanking the community for supporting us.

As the fall academic semester begins in the coming weeks we look forward to the energy and excitement that comes along with it. We look forward especially to experiencing the welcoming spirit that our students always extend to their new friends and colleagues, and to the genuine Aloha that the greater Hawai‘i community extends to them.

Geoffrey Bannister

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