Opening Held for College of Hawaiian Language Building
The University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Hawaiian language college officially opened Saturday with a bilingual blessing.
The formal name of the school’s new $21 million facility is the Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.
The program included remarks from dignitaries combined with hula and musical performances.
“The faculty and staff of Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani has worked long and hard to establish the college as a leader in indigenous language and cultural revitalization,” said UH-Hilo Chancellor Don Straney. “At long last, they have a permanent home in a facility that is worthy of the quality programs that have earned them international recognition.”
The building was designed by WCIT Architects of Honolulu, led by Waiakea High School graduate Rob Iopa, and built by Jacobson Construction of Salt Lake City, Utah.
University officials said key features include spectacular mountain and ocean views and designs that reflect native Hawaiian culture and Hawai`i Island’s natural resources.
Larry Kimura, assistant professor at the college, said the building’s high-roof design was inspired by the pili grass thatched home of Princess Ruth Ke`elikōlani on the grounds of Hulihe`e Palace in Kailua-Kona, for whom the building of the college is named.
The 36,760-square-foot structure contains a performing arts auditorium, library, media resource room, computer lab, student and faculty meeting rooms and 30 offices.
Hale`ōlelo consolidates most of the college’s programs and operations formerly scattered throughout the campus. Since achieving collegiate status in 1997, it has experienced a surge in enrollment while introducing new degrees that produced UH-Hilo’s first master’s and Ph.D. recipients.
“It’s been a long time coming, but the wait has been worth it,” noted Keiki Kawai`ae`a, the college’s director. “This facility addresses many of our growing pains, and will enable expansion of our graduate and undergraduate programs in increasingly impactful ways for our state.
“We want to thank everyone throughout the community who supported this initiative and made it a reality.”