The new president of the University of Hawaii, Dr. M.R.C. Greenwood, is an impressive person.
A noted researcher as well as administrator, Dr. Greenwood addressed a Maui Chamber of Commerce Business Before Hours gathering Friday morning.
She comes to Hawaii after years as a noted researcher in the link between obesity and diabetes and later as an administrator in the University of California system.
It is an interesting time for the university system. The economy has driven enrollment to all-time highs as people who lost their jobs seek new skill sets. Dr. Greenwood cited Maui Community College passing the 4,000 mark as a good example of this effect.
At the same time, state budget woes have tightened the purse strings. The result throughout the system has been pay cuts and layoffs.
But Dr. Greenwood has an upbeat message. She pointed out that UH brings more money into the state than it receives from the budget. Last year, through grants and research money, the university brought in over $400 million. This school year it is on track to bring in over half-a-billion dollars.
She told her audience that people entering the work force today can expect to change jobs five to seven times. That will mean a continuous updating - and changing - of one's skills. Dr. Greenwood said the system is positioning itself to meet the challenge of helping the populace remain prepared for whatever the job market demands.
Dr. Greenwood told stories of people - including her own family members - who had gone back to school to train for whole new careers. She pointed out that many of today's college students are in their 30s, 40s and 50s - learning new skills to increase their value in the marketplace.
She said she felt a special obligation to help people attain higher educations because others had helped her reach her goals.
Dr. Greenwood assured the audience the system will be responsive to the needs of the marketplace and will be there to train us for the demands of future jobs.
The University of Hawaii system is in good hands.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.