Manoa chancellor opposes Navy deal
The decision further sours the prospects for the controversial UARC research center
A proposed Navy research center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa suffered another major setback yesterday, with the campus chancellor voicing her opposition.
"The proposed UARC contract with the Navy is not supported by our campus. Advancing it in the face of this opposition is not in the best interest of the campus," interim Chancellor Denise Konan said.
Last month, UH's Faculty Senate voted 31-18 to oppose the University Affiliated Research Center contract. Students and community groups have also voiced opposition to the plan.
"We're gratefully surprised by the chancellor's decision," said Ikaika Hussey, a UH graduate student and member of Save UH/Stop UARC, a coalition of students, faculty and community members.
Konan said she will not forward the contract to interim UH President David McClain or the Board of Regents for approval.
But McClain said he will still conduct an informational meeting about the UARC for the regents in January, as planned, to give everyone a chance to voice their opinion. Then, he will make his recommendation.
He said Konan's decision will weigh heavily on his, but he noted that he is neither for nor against the proposal.
"I'm agnostic on the issue," McClain said.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Interim UH-Manoa Chancellor Denise Konan, left, and Robert Bley-Vroman, chairman of the UH-Manoa Faculty Senate, spoke to reporters yesterday about not proceeding on the University Affiliated Research Center contract proposal.
In addition to the vocal opposition, Konan said she is concerned with the cost of setting up a center on campus. And there were few faculty who said they were interested in doing UARC-funded research.
The plan would make UH just the fifth University Affiliated Research Center in the country and the first new UARC in more than 50 years.
The proposed contract would steer up to $10 million in Navy research grants a year to the university for five years, proponents say. The additional money would have been less than 3 percent of the research money UH took in last year and would represent an even smaller portion in coming years.
McClain said the university attracted $360 million in research grants last year and has already taken in $180 million in the first three months of this year.
"I don't see any signs of our research funding slowing," Konan said.
She said the campus is running out of laboratory space and in some areas has already reached capacity. And because of the potential for classified research, Konan said it would have more appropriate to have UARC-related research done off campus as it is done at the other UARC universities.
However, the contract negotiated by the UH-Manoa vice chancellor for research and graduate education calls for the center to use existing UH facilities.
The other Navy research centers are at the University of Washington, Pennsylvania State University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Texas at Austin.