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Exterior of Hale Aloha towers
Hale Aloha towers exterior windows were professionally cleaned

A significant amount of work has been completed since May 2023 to improve student housing facilities at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and the work is just beginning, according to Student Housing Services (SHS). The recent improvements spanning the 21 buildings and grounds that house about 3,100 students include:

Wireless access point
Wireless access points were installed to improve WiFi
  • New mattresses delivered to every student room
  • More than 300 Wireless Access Points installed to improve WiFi accessibility, reliability and speeds
  • Repairs to 550 windows, 400 bed frames and 50 air conditioning units
  • Replacement of 75% of the restroom plumbing fixtures in Hale Wainani and the restroom exhaust fans in Hale Kahawai and Hale Laulima
  • Exterior windows of the Hale Aloha Towers professionally washed
  • Six buildings containing trash chutes cleaned and serviced
  • 12 tons of debris removed from storage rooms
  • Four trees removed from the grounds, and 70 more trees pruned
  • A new preventative maintenance program for major building systems and equipment
  • A new repair program for plumbing fixtures, kitchen appliances and door access card keys

“This is only the beginning of repairs and improvements that we plan to make and complete to improve the quality of life for students, faculty and staff,” said SHS Interim Director David Akana. “We plan to make these improvements as quickly and efficiently as possible to maximize the benefit to current and future residents. We are also being strategic in the phasing of projects to minimize disruptions and inconveniences to our current residents.”

Mattresses being moved from delivery trucks
Every student room received new mattresses

The next wave of improvements will include new furniture in common areas and outdoor spaces in select buildings; new refrigerators and stoves in select buildings; increased internet bandwidth for residents’ rooms; filtered water bottle filling stations in each community, and upgrades to 32 surveillance cameras that will be added to the Department of Public Safety’s system.

“We are in the process of implementing our short-term goals while simultaneously developing long-range plans to identify and address the many challenges associated with our aging facilities,” said Akana. “We want our current and future residents to know that we are committed to improving the quality of our facilities and amenities.”

Related: Student residents reimagine Hale Aloha Towers common areas, January 2024

To help ensure identified improvements align with the needs of students, a visioning exercise was conducted by the Office of Planning & Spatial Experience to solicit feedback from residents on proposed enhancements to facilities and amenities.

Addressing long-term objectives

Another component of the long term effort is the establishment of an objective set of criteria that can be used to evaluate previously identified improvements against new initiatives and emergency projects that arise over time. The criteria set includes anticipated impact on student satisfaction and quality of life, anticipated cost savings associated with an investment and the extent to which a project improves the condition of a building system/sub-system.

This approach to portfolio management is objective, supports increased transparency and is flexible to adapt to the evolving needs of SHS.

Restructuring and collaborating to make improvements

The university has also hired KMH LLC to conduct a comprehensive assessment and develop a financial model that will support future budget management and rate setting efforts. The analysis is expected to be completed by fall 2024.

SHS is now organizationally under the Office of the Vice President for Administration (VPA). Multiple VPA units are coordinating with SHS to improve student housing facilities including the Office of Project Management Delivery, the Office of Systems Integration, the Facilities Business Office and the Office of Campus Operation and Facilities, which is responsible for the recent repairs and upgrades.

The short- and long-term plans to improve student housing facilities were presented to the Board of Regents by VPA during a student housing update at the November 2 meeting of the Committee on Institutional Success.

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