UH-West Oahu needs to get the word out
The new campus in Kapolei has begun an ad campaign to attract students.
Just as established colleges and universities compete for enrollment, so too must the University of Hawaii at West Oahu, a campus with an identity unfamiliar even to those who live within a few miles.
A $50,000 advertising campaign to raise its public profile will be money well spent if it captures students who otherwise might not consider higher education. Though classes at UH-West Oahu began in 1976, only in recent years has its importance been recognized as a cost and geographic alternative to the university system's flagship campus in Manoa.
With UH-West Oahu set to open a $135 million complex in Kapolei in 2009, officials need to begin building student enrollment. They hope to boost student numbers from the current 858 to 1,200 students in a little less than two years, and the ad campaign should help.
Officials were smart to hire Waianae High School's noted media production service to create television commercials not only because of its high-quality work, but because its students can relate to the group of young people West Oahu hopes to attract.
High school graduates from the Leeward Coast and Central Oahu would certainly benefit from the proximity of the new campus. Staying closer to home would remove the hassles of getting to Manoa on the island's crowded roads. In addition, officials say many young people from rural districts can find the "town" campus intimidating, so the smaller facility might provide a more comfortable atmosphere.
The new campus has been decades in planning as political leaders wrangled over building another Oahu facility. Just four years ago a UH regent proposed closing West Oahu, triggering a protest by students there. The proposal was designed to goad the Lingle administration toward with a firm commitment of funding and to push lawmakers to do likewise. Earlier this year, the Legislature approved $35 million, and the Board of Regents cleared an agreement for a land sale and construction.
As Leeward and Central Oahu's residential and commercial development continue to grow, enrollment at the new campus will likely follow suit, but in the meantime, young men and women would do well to head west for a college education.
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