Dobelle Announces Commitment to Native Hawaiians

University of Hawaiʻi
Shawn Nakamoto, (808) 956-9095
Kristen Cabral, (808) 956-6934
Posted: Sep 20, 2001

In spite of the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court‘s decision today regarding OHA‘s claims to moneys derived from the use of ceded land, Evan S. Dobelle, president of the University of Hawaiʻi, remarked that the "University needs to assert moral authority in a vacuum," and thus reaffirmed his commitment to Native Hawaiians by earmarking $1.5 million a to immediately fund initiatives in support of ensuring access and academic excellence for Native Hawaiians at the University of Hawaii. He made this announcement during a press conference today at Bachman Hall.

" This is the down payment on a longer-running commitment to meet the needs of Native Hawaiians throughout the University of Hawaiʻi system," said Dobelle. "As the state‘s public system of higher education, our comprehensive mission is to serve all the citizens of Hawaiʻi in their efforts to create a better life and secure future for their children. Our obligation grows with the diminishment of fortunes of any particular population within our community."

Dobelle indicated that he would also initiate a dialogue with OHA and other community partners such as the Kamehameha Schools, for the purposes of discussing how we can best achieve our goal of creating an environment of access for our Native Hawaiian students.
Dobelle said he is committing the University to develop a five-to-seven year plan to more permanently address the status of Native Hawaiian students, faculty and curriculum within the University system. He expects to present this plan to the Governor and Legislature in 15 months for consideration in the next biennial budget.

A key initiative in this development will be convening the statewide council of Hawaiian Studies in early 2002 to identify the precise needs of these programs. The University also will develop, along with all campuses, the Title III initiatives that bring additional resources to all Hawaiian students throughout the system.
Currently, UH Manoa and UH West Oʻahu do not receive funding under Title III. UH Hilo has received $1.5 million over five years to increase graduation and retention rates among Hawaiian students and to enhance access to Hawaiian language studies. The community colleges last year received $1.6 million under Title III for a variety of Hawaiian programs.

According to Dobelle, a medium term plan such as this will have consequences for the University‘s budgets and future planning, therefore the advances that are made must be permanent and that they should advance the interests of University.

"The interests of the Native Hawaiian students are the interests of the entire University community," said Dobelle.