A new era was ushered in Sunday as the first graduates of the University of Hawaii Maui College received their degrees.
The 170 students who picked up their diplomas at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater were part of a momentous occasion - the first graduating class since Maui Community College was renamed UH-Maui College in recognition as its status as a full-fledged college.
Four-year degrees and the training for more demanding jobs are now available right here on Maui.
As commencement speaker and UH President M.R.C. Greenwood told the graduates, "Nearly two-thirds of all jobs in the country need some post-secondary education, and it is estimated that by 2015, 44 percent of Hawaii's jobs will require some form of education and-or training beyond high school - with many jobs requiring a baccalaureate degree or higher."
That is what makes the evolution of UH-Maui College so timely and exciting. Whether it is the initial college degree or needed retraining many of us will face during our working lives, it will be available right here.
It is tempting to congratulate Dr. Greenwood and Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto for the growth of the scope of the school. But, really, all of Maui - indeed, all of Hawaii - should be proud of the way the UH system is transforming to prepare its residents for a more demanding educational future.
So, more than congratulations, we should thank Dr. Greenwood and Dr. Sakamoto for their leadership. We'll all benefit from their work and vision.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.