The North Hawaiʻi Education and Research Center (NHERC) in Honokaʻa will be transferred from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo to Hawaiʻi Community College. Officials from both campuses made the announcement in April, and both campuses are working together closely on preparations to transfer management on July 1, 2019.
A major impetus for the transition are plans for a closer partnership with Hawaiʻi CC at NHERC.
“Hawaiʻi CC is creating a multi-purpose lab space and new opportunities for different types of classes at NHERC through a major renovation,” said Hawaiʻi CC Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas. “The additional 5,000 square feet of space will increase the capacity to serve the North Hawaiʻi community beginning in the summer of 2020. Hawaiʻi CC’s expertise in delivering programs in both career and technical education and in the pre-professional areas will create more academic options for North Hawaiʻi residents.”
UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi CC are working on the transition of staff and management positions that are currently with NHERC.
“We plan to engage with NHERC staff, the community, local high schools, advisory councils and employers to gain an understanding of the educational needs and workforce development opportunities for the community,” Solemsaas explained. “We hope to accomplish this during the first year.”
During the staff transition, Hawaiʻi CC intends to maintain operations as they have been at NHERC. The center’s facilities, including the Heritage Center, will remain a community gathering place.
The creation of NHERC in 2006 was a collaboration of community, elected officials and UH Hilo to build a new model for meeting the educational and cultural needs of the northern side of Hawaiʻi Island.
“Through NHERC, UH Hilo has actively pursued that mission for the past 12 years with the Heritage Center showcasing the unique history of the area and community, delivering on-site classes and Early College classes at local high schools and providing a gathering place for the community to pursue activities, exchange information and celebrate events,” noted UH Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai. “We believe educational offerings and opportunities in North Hawaiʻi will be further expanded and enhanced under the management of Hawaiʻi CC.”
—By Alyson Kakugawa-Leong