Tuesday, June 21, 2005

$100M drives
dorm growth
at UH

Lingle OKs revenue bonds
to address a housing shortage
on the Manoa campus

With $100 million in state funding now in place, the University of Hawaii can "move forward much more aggressively" in undertaking its plan to renovate and expand on-campus housing, Interim President David McClain said.

University of Hawaii McClain was among the university officials in attendance yesterday as Gov. Linda Lingle signed a bill authorizing the issuance of $100 million in revenue bonds for maintenance and construction of housing units at the Manoa campus. Lingle also signed into a law a measure that extends fiscal autonomy for the university and the Department of Education for another year.

McClain said his administration would be briefing the university's Board of Regents on the status of its housing project during regular meetings starting this week.

"Passing this (revenue bond) bill into law will give us the ability to move more quickly and efficiently to reduce the housing shortage on our campus," McClain said afterward. "It will allow us to move forward much more aggressively."

McClain said a developer for the first phase of the housing project could be selected by next week.

The housing project, announced last year, aims to increase the number of beds on campus to about 6,000, from the existing 3,400, during the next five to six years.

The revenue bonds would be repaid through student housing fees.

More housing is needed to meet higher enrollment, which McClain said has risen about 15 percent in the past three years to its current level of about 20,000 students.

The first phase of the housing plan would accommodate about 800 students through the renovation or redevelopment of Frear, Johnson and the International Gateway House dorms on Dole Street near East-West Road.

Lingle had asked lawmakers to provide $250 million for housing, and said her administration would discuss the situation with university officials before determining what to seek next year.

"We'll work with the university to determine how far it is that $100 million takes them," Lingle said. "I want it to be clear this is not going to solve the entire problem."

Lingle and McClain both said they would work to have the university's fiscal autonomy extended permanently.

The measure granting the university and the Department of Education authority over their own purchases of goods and services first passed in 1986, and its expiration date has been renewed several times since. The bill signed by Lingle extends the autonomy through June 30, 2006.

"We think the fact that we've done this for 19 years seems to have worked pretty well," McClain said. "We think it's essential for our operations, and we're hopeful in the next go-round we'll be able to make it permanent."

University of Hawaii

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