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West // West Oahu Coverstory
Christina O’Connor

UH-West Oahu Campus Now Open In Kapolei

The 1,950 students who are enrolled at University of Hawaii-West Oahu this semester started their new school year last week in a new home ― the long- awaited, highly anticipated campus in Kapolei — and it kicked off the opening with a gala dinner Aug. 16 and a sneak peek at the campus Aug. 18.

“Overall, it’s going very well,” UH-West Oahu communications director Kalowena Komeiji said last week Tuesday, marking the second day of classes. “We still have some small glitches to work out … There will still be many adjustments in the weeks ahead, but it’s a nice problem to have.”

UH-West Oahu comes to Kapolei after spending nearly 30 years in wooden portable facilities at Leeward Community College in Pearl City. Before that, it operated from rented space at various locations. Construction on the Kapolei campus began in 2010.

“The (Pearl City) cam- pus was cramped … Now we suddenly have a lot of space.”

And in that space are plenty of new features for the college. The campus currently has five buildings, including a bookstore and a cafeteria ― both of which are firsts for the university.

It also has a library equipped with computer work stations and copy machines.

“These are things that we just never had before,” Komeiji said. “They sound so simple, but for us, they’re huge.”

A sixth building that will house administration offices will be completed in the near future.

While UH-West Oahu will offer the same core curriculum as other UH system schools, it aims to focus on elementary education, healthcare administration, allied healthcare education and creative media. It also plans to develop a culinary management program in partnership with Kapiolani Community College.

“Every campus in this system has its strengths and fields of excellence, and we are trying to build our own reputation for quality,” Komeiji said. “We are looking at the needs of the surrounding communities … and trying to be responsive to that.

“We are hoping that the students who live around here will No. 1, think about going to college; and No. 2, as they think about going to college, that they will look at UH-West Oahu as their college of choice.”

Komeiji hopes the new campus will enable students to have a “really positive and productive academic career, and that it challenges them and inspires them.”

Amid the excitement of the recent opening, how- ever, UH-West Oahu

received a letter last month from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which expressed concern about its ability to retain academic leadership and staff after a WASC team visited the school earlier this year.

In a statement issued last week on UH-West Oahu’s website, officials explained that they will meet with WASC via video conference in October to discuss these

issues. The statement also assures students that its accreditation is not in jeopardy and continues through 2014, when an Educational Effectiveness Review will be conducted.

Applications for this semester will be accepted through the end of the month. Applications for spring semester 2013 are due Dec. 1. For more information, visit westoahu.hawaii.edu.

“There have been a lot of false starts in getting the campus built,” Komeiji admitted. “We have this gorgeous new property now, and it’s just so nice to have something brand new.

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