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Historic Preservation at the UHM

Past and Present

Historic Preservation has been offered as an academic discipline at the University of Hawai‘i since 1986. Five years earlier, a number of interested individuals and organizations, coordinated by Historic Hawai‘i Foundation, requested that the College of Arts and Humanities provide local training in preservation education. The University approached well-known historic preservationist William J. Murtagh to develop a new Graduate Certificate Program in Historic Preservation at the University of Hawai‘i’s main campus at Mānoa, in Honolulu.

Dr. Murtagh was the first Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, Vice-President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and had been director of historic preservation programs at the University of Maryland and Columbia University. Through the Department of American Studies, he initially offered an introductory course in Historic Preservation. Subsequently, Dr. Murtagh developed a Preservation Field School, held each summer in Hawai‘i. He was also instrumental in creation of the Pacific Preservation Consortium, an “umbrella” organization at the University for the development and coordination of historic preservation efforts, with a special emphasis on the Pacific area nations.

The Historic Preservation program has counted among its faculty and lecturers a number of distinguished visiting professors, including Dr. Barnes Riznik, Retired Director of Grove Farm Homestead and Wai‘oli Mission Houses on the Island of Kaua‘i. Robert Giebner, University of Arizona Department of Architecture, and Blair Reeves, formerly with the University of Florida and originator of the Nantucket Summer Institute, both taught a summer documentation course. They were building on many years of previous historic recording work in Hawai‘i, dating back to Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) projects in the 1960s, supervised in part by HABS founder Charles Peterson. Another distinguished visiting professor was Hiroshi Daifuku, a former UNESCO Program Director in Cultural Heritage.

The current Director of the Historic Preservation Program is Dr. William R. Chapman. Educated at Columbia (M.S. in Historic Preservation, 1978) and at Oxford University in England (D.Phil. in Anthropology, 1982), he specializes in architectural recording, the management of historic districts, and materials conservation. A former Fulbright scholar and American Candidate at the International Center for Conservation in Rome (ICCROM), he has been a two-time Fulbright Senior Specialist, teaching in both Thailand (2006) and Cambodia (2002). He has a special interest in international preservation, particularly in the Pacific and Asia and serves on three International Specialized ICOMOS Committees: History and Theory, Historic Towns and Urban Areas and Vernacular Architecture. Since 2000, he has been a member of the UNESCO committee for Heritage Awards in Asia and the Pacific.

The Historic Preservation Program is a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Council for Preservation Education. Its faculty and staff are also active members of a number of other local, national and international preservation organizations.

Multi-Cultural and International Focus
The University of Hawai‘i is committed to the recognition of the cultures and values of indigenous peoples, especially Native Hawaiians. This commitment is manifested in course offerings throughout the University. The Department of American Studies, through its historic preservation and other courses, attempts to keep issues of cultural identity and the recognition of traditional cultural properties and heritage at the forefront of discussions and instruction.

Further, the University prides itself on its strong international orientation and the wide range of peoples and cultures reflected in its faculty and student body, departments and courses. This is strongly evident in the historic preservation program, including the summer Field School, which attracts students and faculty from around the world. Countries represented include Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Taiwan, China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Micronesia, and several European nations. The program’s courses mirror this international orientation and give special emphasis to problems and examples of universal concern.

The Mānoa Campus
The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is the major comprehensive campus of the statewide system and a center for research, as well as undergraduate and graduate education. It began in 1907 as the original campus of a land-grant college of agriculture and mechanical arts, the College of Hawai‘i. The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is the major comprehensive campus of the statewide system and a center for research, as well as undergraduate and graduate education. Today, 20,000-plus people are enrolled on campus or via distance delivery, pursuing bachelor’s degrees in 92 fields of study, master’s degrees in 84, doctorates in 51, first professional degrees in architecture, law and medicine, and a number of certificates. The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Students may transfer credits to other American or foreign universities on the same basis as course credits are transferred by other American universities.