A rainbow of good news broke through the depressing darkness of our economic situation recently with the advancement of the former Maui Community College to four-year status as the University of Hawaii-Maui College.
This is wonderful news for all of Maui County. In the broad spectrum, the evolution of the college to full-fledged four-year status will fire up the Valley Isle’s economic engine in terms of creating more teaching and construction jobs, and generate millions of dollars in terms of out-of-state tuition.
Think of well-to-do Mainland families sitting around the dinner table discussing college options. “Gee, mom and dad, do you think I could go to school on Maui? I hear they have good college over there — and lots of waves, too!”
U.H. Maui College offers a compelling array of course options now and for the future, including the basic liberal arts requirements to sustainable energy, culinary arts, modern technology in collaboration with the Maui Tech Park, space research with the Haleakala observatory, agriculture, nursing, auto technology and the guest services industry.
There has also been increasing movement toward higher Hawaiian cultural awareness at U.H. Maui College, particularly with the archaeological research courses that are currently uncovering vital historical sites in Lahaina. Important also are language, hula, canoe and surfing courses that could be enriched in partnerships with Kamehameha Schools Maui. Malama pono indeed!
Perhaps most of all, U.H. Maui College offers a viable advanced education alternative to the emotional and financial trauma that Valley Isle, Molokai and Lanai families have had to endure throughout the ages in sending their children away to school. The philosophy that encouraged parents to send their 18-year-olds to the Mainland for college to “see the world” has been electrocuted by modern technology.
Now, with U.H. Maui College, Maui County kids will be able to earn their bachelor’s degrees with one foot in the sand.
As a sports junkie, I start to salivate in thinking about the athletic programs that could flourish at the college; let’s say, Division II level made up of our home grown sportsters.
Just think of the football team U.H. Maui could field with a defense with Kaluka Maiava at linebacker and Kaniela Tuipulotu and Simione Vehikite up front. They would fill War Memorial Stadium with challenges from West Coast colleges — money, honey.
How about a baseball team with Shane Victorino and Kurt Suzuki in the lineup — get outta here! A softball program with the likes of Kaleo Eldrege, Shannon Tabion and Tasha Pagdilao leading the way — ka-ching!
A women’s hoops team led by Maiki Viela, Kelci Fushikoshi and Dana Lynn Hooper-Juario in the backcourt and Malika Taufa in the post — it’s over!
A swim team led by Laura and Jack Pope — splashdown! Tennis with Jackie Owens — a lovefest! And remember, D-II schools can offer scholarships to lure even more quality student-athletes to consider U.H. Maui.
And that economic engine I spoke of earlier? Well, a few years back — still in the days of the robust world economy — California high school football teams were scheduling preseason games with the Maui schools. That brought hundreds of supporters, spending thousands of dollars, to play on the gridiron and stay at Valley Isle resorts.
Just think of the myriad of positive effects that a successful college football program here on Maui would have for all of us who call this little jewel of an island our home.
Congratulations to U.H. Maui College Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto for leading the way to this pot of gold called higher education.