The Navy and the University of Hawaii have agreed to terms on establishing a Navy research center on campus.
The university affiliated research center, or UARC, would draw on the school’s expertise in astronomy, oceanography, lasers, and other areas. If approved by the university’s Board of Regents, the center would be the nation’s fifth and expected to bring in tens of millions in research funding.
The Board of Regents is expected to consider the contract at a meeting in Hilo Sept. 27-28. The board must approve the deal before it can go forward.
The laboratory would be funded for three years, with an option for renewal for an additional two years.
The four Navy-backed research centers in the United States are located at Pennsylvania State University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University.
University of Hawaii was recommended as the fifth center in July 2004.
The agreement comes two years after protesters took over the UH president’s office for a week demanding the school abandon plans for the center. Protesters argued the center would further militarize the state and that classified research stifles academic freedom.
Kyle Kajihiro, program director for the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker-affiliated social justice and peace organization, said the UH administration is “thumbing its nose at all the constituencies of the university that came out and opposed the UARC” previously.
The Manoa Faculty Senate and an undergraduate student association voted against accepting the research center. UH-Manoa Interim Chancellor Denise Konan also recommended against proceeding with the UARC, saying it was not supported by the campus.
UH system Vice President for Research Jim Gaines said the school would benefit from the additional research funds, noting Johns Hopkins University’s Navy-affiliated research lab brings in about $300 million a year.
Gaines said he hopes the proposed UH center will draw $50 million to $70 million in research funds each year, similar to the funding received by the lab at the University of Washington.
“It is something that could be a major expansion (at UH) in the future,” Gaines said, adding the research would train students to be part of a high-tech work force.
Information from: The Honolulu Advertiser, http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com
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