to the Editor

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Wednesday, November 20, 2002

UH ought to improve engineering program

The story "UH aims to hit top by 2010" (Nov. 15) on the plan to put the University of Hawaii into the top educational tier, doesn't mention improvements to the College of Engineering. This department could be one of the cornerstones in developing a solid technology industry if funded and focused upon properly.

As it is, there has been a slow and consistent decrease in course selection, largely because engineering faculty are understaffed and overworked. For example, classes that offer tremendous educational value and diversity, but are non-essential by accreditation standards, cannot be offered because the same faculty are needed to teach core classes.

In the end, it's the students who are shortchanged. If students are the products of the university, the infrastructure of the product that can immediately "produce great returns" needs great support.

Byron Wolfe
UH engineering senior

Don't limit university to 'first-tier' students

Recent discussion regarding the University of Hawaii developing into a "first-tier" academic institution seems to ignore a growing dilemma in undergraduate education. UH already has a number of excellent graduate departments with world-class faculty and graduate students drawn from an international talent pool. But Evan Dobelle, Linda Lingle and others face a "mission impossible" if their intentions extend to improving undergraduate education in this state.

First, the best and brightest high school grads will continue to go to college on the mainland, and they should do this for the educational value inherent in "the mainland experience." That leaves UH with the daunting prospect of trying to educate to a first-tier standard the graduates of many Hawaii high schools who start college with less than primary-school skills and bases of essential knowledge. This problem is not unique to Hawaii, but is probably worse here than in many mainland states, as I have perceived in 25 years of teaching college freshmen.

If UH does nothing but beef up its ranks of star faculty who land big research grants, the meaning of "first-tier" status is limited, and the university all but abandons an important part of its mission.

John Culliney

Prayer has no place in Council meetings

Our founding fathers were determined to form a new type of nation, one free of the mistakes that our European forerunners had made. One of the key elements was the separation of church and state. Its obvious that most of the people writing in support of the invocation before City Council meetings have not studied the history. They seem to assume that everyone believes in some kind of god, therefore making the invocation OK.

What are the atheists suppose to do during the prayer? You know people will be offended if they refuse to bow their heads. They should not have to make that choice simply in order to participate in our government. "Religious influence always corrupts government and government influence always makes religion profane." Both are better off on their own.

Bryan Mick

Students need Kahala Condo revenue

I respectfully urge my fellow citizens to call their City Council members and express opposition to Resolution 02-300 (Condemnation of Kahala Beach Condominium) because there is absolutely no "public purpose" to it.

I am a staff member at Kamehameha Schools and I know that the work that we do and all the revenue we generate is dedicated to one purpose and one purpose only: the education of children. Just one year of revenues generated from the Kahala Beach Condominiums provides for:

>> financial aid for 720 4-year-olds attending preschool, or
>> financial aid for 809 non-Kamehameha high school graduates to attend college, or
>> 2,371 Hawaiian students on full scholarship at Kamehameha Schools for one year, or
>> one year of supplemental funding for more than 4,500 students enrolled in Department of Education conversion schools.

Once these properties are sold, that revenue is gone forever. How can exchanging revenue-driven charitable edu- cational opportunities for thousands of children in perpetuity for the short-term benefit of 31 Kahala apartment owners conceivably be viewed as a "public purpose?"

Ellen J. Pelissero

Democrats should be united behind Ed Case

The leaders of the Democratic Party must stop trying to bash one another and work toward uniting the Democrats who were too disgusted to vote or who voted "against" someone. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Democratic Party needs a new direction.

Having this huge number of candidates vying for Patsy Mink's vacancy will only continue the fiasco. All these candidates should drop out and put their total support behind Ed Case. He is the future of the new, active-thinking Democratic Party. He should have been elected governor, but at least let's get him to represent Hawaii in Washington.

Aloha to Frank Fasi, Mazie Hirono and Matt Matsunaga, but do the right thing by not further fracturing our party. Do the people and the state of Hawaii a favor by standing behind one Democratic candidate for this office -- Ed Case.

Darlene Carter
Kihei, Maui

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