It’s often said that a recession is when your neighbor loses her job, and a depression is when you lose yours.
As peaks on the economic charts turn into valleys, a growing number of Hawaiʻi residents know someone who has been laid off or, worse, have been laid off themselves. Many of those laid off have turned to the University of Hawaiʻi to improve their job skills. Our enrollment is at all-time record levels.
Transforming lives and breaking down barriers both economic and social is what we do every day at UH—and it’s this commitment that makes the university part of the solution to the state’s economic problems.
First there’s the matter of sheer scale; UH is by far the largest higher education provider in Hawaiʻi.
Then there’s the quality of our work. Our research enterprise—UH Mānoa is one of the top 25 public research universities in the nation—brings nearly $400 million and thousands of high-quality jobs to Hawaiʻi.
Overall, every year UH pumps nearly $2 billion into the state’s economy. Applying the usual multiplier effects, UH’s direct and indirect economic impact likely totals some $3 billion.
UH provides an important source of economic momentum and stability at a time when other sectors, such as tourism, are having difficulty.
UH can help shorten the recession. Our biennium budget calls for some $350 million in capital renewal and deferred maintenance of our facilities. These infrastructure projects are already identified, involve little in the way of permitting and are ready to launch now—just the kind of economic stimulus recommended by President Obama.
When under way, these general obligation bond–funded projects will produce or protect thousands of jobs. To shorten implementation delays, we’re requesting more flexibility in procurement from the governor and legislature.
We’re also requesting $250 million in authority to issue our own bonds, funded by our own revenues, to build more student and faculty housing. And in January the university celebrated a ground blessing of a new UH West Oʻahu campus in Kapolei; work on off-site infrastructure has already commenced.
The people, projects and programs of the University of Hawaiʻi are providing a bridge across the valley of recession to a brighter, more productive future for Hawaiʻi.
President, University of Hawaiʻi