UH resurrects plan to partner with Navy
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University of Hawaii officials have quietly refloated the proposal to partner with the U.S. Navy on research, renewing concerns from opponents who do not want classified military projects on campus.
The university posted a 90-page proposed contract with the Navy yesterday at www.hawaii.edu/arl.
UH President David McClain said the deal will bring $50 million to the school over five years and that classified research would be prohibited for at least the first three years.
Opponents, some of whom occupied McClain's office in protest of the plans in 2005, say UH officials are not being open with their plans.
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The divisive issue of University of Hawaii scientists doing defense-related research surfaced again yesterday with publication of a proposed contract to establish a University-Affiliated Research Center of the U.S. Navy.
Now called the Applied Research Laboratory, the project in Manoa would manage "task orders" from the Navy, the Department of Defense and other federal agencies for projects using "UH scientists' expertise in astronomy, oceanography, advanced electro-optical systems and communications systems," according to a news release.
There would be no classified military research for the first three years of the five-year contract, said UH President David McClain.
"The contract is worth $50 million over five years," he said in a telephone interview from Las Vegas.
Opposition from faculty and student-body groups and native Hawaiian organizations arose when UARC was first proposed in 2005. The prospect of classified military projects on campus was a concern when the Manoa Faculty Senate voted against it. The Save UH/Stop UARC coalition demonstrated by occupying McClain's office in April 2005 and testified at length at a January 2006 UH Board of Regents meeting.
The opposition is still alive, said graduate student Ikaika Hussey. Opponents anticipate that the contract will be presented to the Board of Regents meeting Sept. 27 at the UH-Hilo campus. "It would be cowardly of them to discuss it in Hilo when the main body of students and faculty are on Oahu," he said.
Social work professor Joel Fischer said, "They always intended to get the UARC in place no matter what the faculty and students said."
"When they post this thing, they are not being transparent, not giving enough time for community reaction," he said of the 90-page contract posted yesterday at www.hawaii.edu/arl.
McClain said "the most salient change in the contract" was deletion of a section that provided for setting up an "intelligence network. There would be an intelligence network if they were planning for classified research. That's gone."
UH journalism professor Beverly Keever said, "This new contract is the same old, same old in general. All the results of UH research will be censored by the Navy and may never be known or known completely to U.S. and Hawaii taxpayers. The UH and its researchers will be forfeiting their patenting and licensing and other intellectual property rights to the U.S. government at a time when the institution is trying to tout its research efforts."
James Gaines, UH system vice president for research, negotiated the revised contract with the Navy. It provides that the laboratory director would report to Gaines.
McClain said he decided to remove UARC from Manoa campus jurisdiction to the overall system level in response to concerns brought to the regents by former interim Manoa Chancellor Denise Konan.
"After three years we'll see if it has been more trouble than it's worth," said the president. The potential for research to become classified after that will be evaluated, he said.