Advocates and opponents of the proposed UARC contract present their case to the UH Board of RegentsUniversity of Hawaiʻi
HONOLULU — At an informational meeting held on January 20, 2006 at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa‘s Campus Center Ballroom, numerous individuals in support of and against the proposed University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) at UH Mānoa presented their arguments to the UH Board of Regents. More than 70 people presented oral testimony at the meeting and more than 500 written testimonies were received from students, faculty, interest groups, neighbor island residents, mainland residents, community members, and other key stakeholders in the university.
In the written testimony received by the end of the day on Thursday, January 19, about 130 people voiced support for the UARC and more than 430 voiced their opposition. Numerous petitions were included among the submissions, including one from the College of Engineering with about 70 signatures in support of the UARC and one from the William S. Richardson School of Law with about 170 signatures opposing the UARC.
Infringements on academic freedom, conflicts with the university‘s mission to serve its students, and respect for the vote of the Mānoa Faculty Senate in opposition of the UARC were some of the points brought up by those opposed to its establishment at the Mānoa campus.
Amongst those in support of the UARC, many emphasized the major role a UARC would play in furthering Hawaiʻi‘s science and technology industry, and the potential for increased research funds and the elevation of the university‘s reputation. Others cited the misinformation in the current debate and recommended approval of the UARC contract with stipulations that could address the concerns raised by opponents.
The informational meeting was held as part of a process outlined several months ago, which was designed to ensure that extensive consultation took place and involved all stakeholders from the Mānoa campus and the broader community. The purpose of today‘s public meeting was to allow these stakeholders an opportunity to share their perspectives on the issue with the Board of Regents, who will make the final decision on whether or not to approve the contract once they receive a recommendation from UH Interim President David McClain.
UARC BACKGROUND AND PROCESS
The United States Navy, in the 1990s, reaffirmed its strategic relationship and commitment to four university laboratories by designating them as University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs) to serve as centers of excellence for critical Navy and national defense science, technology and engineering. The four designated UARCs are the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, the Applied Research Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University, the Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington, and the Applied Research Laboratories at the University of Texas at Austin. All four laboratories have been conducting research and development for the Navy for the last 60 years in specific areas of core competencies. UH Mānoa was recommended as the fifth UARC of the Navy in July 2004.
On November 18, 2004, the Board of Regents gave its provisional approval for the establishment of the Navy UARC on the UH Mānoa campus. Before giving final approval, the Regents required that the campus complete work on a contract for the proposed center, and complete the normal consultation process on the campus.
On December 5, 2005, UH Interim President David McClain issued a statement stating that, thanks to the leadership of UH Mānoa Interim Chancellor Denise Konan and others on the Mānoa campus, both conditions had now substantially been met. As Konan‘s statement of the same date indicated, the consultation process on the campus revealed opposition from several faculty and student constituencies, some of which was based on the contract itself, which is unique for this kind of UARC. As a result of this consultation and analysis, the chancellor stated that "I do not recommend proceeding with the contract," and noted that "UARC-related research would more appropriately be located off campus."