It's been a productive and exciting year for the University of Hawaii Maui College. With new facilities added, new accolades awarded and even more projects on the near 2014 horizon. Here are just a few of the highlights from the past year that will benefit our students, college and community:
* Ike Le'a: In February, the college celebrated the grand opening of the $26 million science facility, Ike Le'a with dedicated teaching labs for astronomy, optics, physics, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, biology, microbiology and the marine sciences and a critical foundation for associate and baccalaureate programs.
* "HA" of Maui, the Hospitality Academy of Maui's "Teaching Hotel." The former student housing site will be transformed into into the "HA" of Maui. The facility will create a learning lab, offering hospitality and tourism students hands-on training by operating an actual hotel. The Legislature approved $3.5 million for the project, with the renovation expected to begin in 2014.
* Veterans Resource Center. Last month, state and Maui County officials helped recognize the community effort that launched the college's new Veterans Resource Center. A $9,000 grant from The Home Depot Foundation, volunteers from The Home Depot on Maui and the UH-MC Veterans Club helped renovate the campus space in September. The facility is the first center specifically for veterans in the UH system. It will provide student veterans a dedicated space for studying, networking and receiving tutoring and counseling services. This year, UH Maui College was selected to appear on the Military Friendly Schools list, the annual recognition of America's leading campuses in providing educational service to military service members, veterans and spouses.
* Liko A'e Celebrates 10 years. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the college's Liko A'e program offering Native Hawaiians financial aid services. The latest $1.5 million award from the U.S. Department of Education Title VII Elementary and Secondary Education Act funds the program through August 2014.
* Photovoltaic carport. The collaboration between UHMC and Johnson Controls with HNu Energy to transform the campus into a center of excellence for sustainability is under construction. A 565-kilowatt- per-hour carport PV system will increase the college's ability to generate electricity, and provide eight stalls for electric vehicle charging stations and save about $122,000 per year.
* Culinary Arts Program a Rising Star. After surveying more than 5 million reviews of 19,000 restaurants, OpenTable.com named the UH-MC Maui Culinary Academy's Leis Family Class Act Restaurant one of the top 100 restaurants in the United States. Other renowned restaurants in the top 100 include Maui's Mama's Fish House (ranked No. 2), The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif.; Gramercy Tavern, New York; and goosefoot, Chicago.
* Daniel K. Inouye Allied Health Center. On Dec. 15, the official launch of the Daniel K. Inouye Allied Health Center took place with Irene Hirano Inouye and UH interim President David Lassner in attendance. The first floor of the college's former science facility in the Noi'i building will be renovated to increase classroom space for the dental hygiene and dental assisting programs and incorporate the Maui Oral Health Center, now located off campus. The oral health center provides dental care to underinsured Maui County residents while giving dental hygiene and dental assisting students hands-on experience.
To learn more about this year's progress and continue to keep abreast of upcoming events, visit the college's news page at maui.hawaii.edu/news. This progress would not have been possible without the contributions, leadership and collaboration that we've received from the community as well as our colleagues at the college. Mahalo for your continuing support to improve higher education for our Maui, Molokai and Lanai students and communities.
* Clyde Sakamoto is chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. Ka'ana Mana'o means "sharing thoughts." It's scheduled to appear on the fourth Sunday of each month. Prepared with assistance from UH-Maui College staff, it provides information about opportunities available through the college at its Kahului campus and its education centers.