President Greenwood urges greater financial and human investment in higher education as part of the solution to Hawaii's economic woes

Greenwood shares vision in first-ever address to a joint session of the Hawai‘i State Legislature by a UH president

University of Hawaiʻi
Kristen Bonilla, (808) 956-5039
Public Information Officer, External Affairs and University Relations
Posted: Feb 3, 2010

HONOLULU – The University of Hawai‘i System is vital to the state’s future and is part of the solution to Hawai‘i’s current economic problems. UH President M.R.C. Greenwood emphasized this message in a historic address to a joint session of the Hawai‘i State Legislature today, the first time a UH president has addressed a joint session of the Legislature.
“Hawai‘i has a unique integrated system of public higher education that is unlike any other state. This is an extraordinary asset that we must tailor to the 21st century,” said Greenwood. “UH adds money, jobs and talented people to the state’s economy. The concept that public education benefits the entire state and not just the individual student today is more important than ever.”
In sharing her vision for the University of Hawai‘i with state legislators, Greenwood announced three new initiatives that are focused on increasing the number of educated citizens in Hawai‘i, contributing to the workforce and the economy, and advancing the university’s reputation for excellence and its ability to build the state’s capacity.
The Hawai‘i Graduation Initiative will aim to increase the number of college graduates by 25 percent by the year 2015. It will focus on access, affordability, and student success, as well as strengthening the pipeline of education in Hawai‘i from early childhood through college.
“Simply put, we want more local students to attend and graduate from UH,” said Greenwood.  "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.”
Among the university’s efforts to contribute to the workforce and the economy, Greenwood noted an increased emphasis will be placed on improving innovation and technology transfer. To that end, a Presidential Advisory Group of Experts will be appointed to study the university’s successes, challenges and opportunities, and to advise the university on how best to advance its goal of building a multi-billion dollar research industry here in Hawai‘i.
“While we have successful examples of technology transfer, I believe we can do even more. Today, we need an approach that incorporates innovation as well as technology transfer. We must help new businesses emerge and older ones innovate. We must manage, not control, technology transfer for the good of the state. Our federal research and training enterprise has quadrupled in the past decade, and we must stay ahead of this curve,” said Greenwood.
Crucial to these efforts will be the university’s ability to repair and maintain its educational and research facilities statewide, including the availability of funding and the flexibility to move quickly, which is essential to doing so.
“The state of Hawai’i needs and deserves a 21st century public university, one with superior facilities to attract and retain the best faculty for high quality teaching and research,” stated Greenwood. “Decades of inadequate investment in our facilities are hindering the University of Hawai‘i in this regard. The poor condition of our facilities, particularly at Mānoa, has a far-reaching effect on our ability to leverage external funds, add to the economy, create jobs and produce the research and student opportunities we expect of a 21st century university.”
To address this issue, Greenwood announced the “Project Renovate to Innovate” initiative. This effort will focus on rebuilding infrastructure, bringing indirect cost rates in line with peer institutions, and increasing the creation of small businesses based on UH technology developments.
“Monies spent on repairs, maintenance and construction are a triple bottom line,” said Greenwood. “They lead directly to jobs for Hawai‘i’s construction workers, they provide the support to allow our faculty and staff to compete for additional funding, and they allow us to help ourselves for the future by better leveraging the external funds that we are awarded for research and training.
“No other state investment will have so many immediate benefits while paving the way for long term growth of research, education and training.”
Greenwood expressed hope that a renewed partnership with the state will help make these efforts successful as the university charts its course to a preferred future and to becoming the innovative, forward-looking university that Hawai‘i deserves.
For the full text of Greenwood’s address, visit the president’s webpage at