UH should accept Navy research center
The University of Hawaii is considering a Navy contract to host a research center.
STANDING up to vocal opponents, David McClain, the University of Hawaii's interim president, has satisfied reasonable concerns in supporting a proposed Navy research center
in the UH system. The center, if approved by the university's regents, could generate millions of dollars in research contracts and put UH in the same league as four other prestigious institutions.
Anti-military activists crusaded against the project, gaining the support of the Manoa faculty union, the student body and Manoa Chancellor Denise Konan in opposing the center as first presented. The conditions set forth by McClain answer those concerns and deserve approval by the Navy for the project to go forward.
In opposing the center in December, Konan said it would have been more appropriate for research to be conducted off campus by a University Affiliated Research Center. McClain accepted the stipulation that the center be located off campus and administered by the 10-campus UH system instead of the Manoa campus. That conforms with operations at other UARC universities and a current Air Force-funded contract with UH.
In response to contentions that classified research would compromise the intellectual property rights of researchers, McClain proposed that classified research be excluded from any individual contract proposal for three years, and any research that becomes classified later would be moved off campus. The contract would be evaluated after that period to decide whether to complete what was proposed as a five-year pact.
Alarm that UH will become a weapons laboratory is ludicrous. The areas of research of interest to the Navy are Hawaii's strengths -- oceanography, astronomy, electrical engineering and electro-optical systems.
Rejecting the Navy contract would deny researchers the opportunity for lucrative and stimulating work. McClain correctly decided "to support the individual scholar no matter how popular -- or even more importantly, unpopular -- his or her research interests."
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