UH-Navy meeting likely to draw crowd
The Board of Regents will consider approval of a research lab deal
Opponents of a controversial research partnership between the Navy and the University of Hawaii are expected to come out in force when the Board of Regents meets Thursday in Hilo to consider final approval of an Applied Research Laboratory.
The agenda for the meeting at UH-Hilo and a memo from UH President David McClain to the regents requesting approval for the research agreement was posted online at the university Web site yesterday.
In the memo, McClain said UH could receive as much as $10 million a year for the next five years in research projects through the agreement.
McClain noted that the research agreement is "financially attractive" because it pays about 25 percent more than other research contracts and allows UH to charge a fee for its services.
"Whether these superior returns are justified by the start-up costs ... by the additional administrative burden and expense, and by the risks involved is a matter of judgment," McClain wrote.
Jim Gaines, the UH vice president of research, estimated that start-up costs to establish an off-campus office and advertise for and hire staff would be about $1 million. The university estimates the annual administrative costs would be about $2.9 million.
The costs could be reimbursed by Navy contracts, Gaines said.
If the regents approve the research lab, the university could begin accepting contracts in December, Gaines said.
Opponents of the Navy research lab are planning a news conference next week.
Ikaika Hussey, one of the leaders of a peaceful protest against the Navy research lab in 2005, said he expects groups opposed to the project to turn out for the Hilo meetings, but is not sure how many opponents of the project in Honolulu will fly to the Big Island to speak against it.
Opponents of what was then called the University Affiliated Research Center, or UARC, occupied McClain's office for seven days in May 2005.
"We'll see whether or not the Board of Regents represents the faculty and students who all stood up against the UARC or are they going to represent the military-industrial complex," Hussey said.
In November 2005, interim UH-Manoa Chancellor Denise Konan recommended against putting the research lab on the Manoa campus.
McClain is recommending that the administration of the research lab be based off-campus and report to the UH system office, rather than UH-Manoa.
McClain said the new contract for the Navy research lab would also not allow classified research for the first three years. The university and the Navy will re-evaluate the contract at that point and decide whether to continue it for the final two years.