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UH planning to rent office space in town


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POSTED: Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The University of Hawaii at Manoa is preparing to rent downtown office space for $20,000 a month starting next month.

The move will allow UH-Manoa to move Outreach College offices to the Oceanit Center on Fort Street Mall and provide office and clinical research space for the psychology department on campus in Krauss and Sakamaki halls.

The psychology department was forced to vacate Gartley Hall in September after engineers declared the 88-year-old building unsafe to occupy.

“;There is significant work that must be done in the building,”; said Kathy Cutshaw, UH-Manoa vice chancellor for administration.

But while the psychology department will soon have a new home, the move is generating uncertainty in the Outreach College about their future.

“;I think the move is inevitable,”; said Peter Tanaka, dean of the Outreach College. “;However, the details haven't been worked out at all.”;

Said Cutshaw, “;No matter what we do in terms of space, someone is going to be unhappy. I have to move someone off campus. We do not have the space. We lost Edmondson and Gartley within a year. All of those people have to be moved somewhere.”;

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The Outreach College runs both credit and noncredit classes on campus, on neighbor islands and internationally, plus the UH-Manoa summer session, and provides distance-learning and conference-planning services.

Cutshaw said the UH-Manoa administration has recommend that the noncredit portion of the Outreach College be moved downtown.

She said there will be no impact on the classes offered at UH-Manoa this fall and spring.

“;The classes will still be taught on campus, and direct student services will remain on campus,”; she said.

At a Board of Regents meeting last month, Cutshaw said the university looked at leasing office space near campus, but the rents were much higher than downtown.

The regents approved the three-year lease calling for the use of 7,252 square feet of space on the fourth floor and parking for 20 cars.

Cutshaw said the $16,000 lease rent and maintenance fees will come out of the UH-Manoa operating budget until June 30. Employees transferred downtown will likely have to pay the $195 per month for a parking if they want a stall.

Because the Outreach College generates income, Cutshaw said she expects the college will be able to cover the rent after July 1.

The space downtown might also allow UH-Manoa to offer classes that could compete with Hawaii Pacific University and the University of Phoenix, which are also located on Fort Street Mall, Cutshaw said.

But Tanaka said it is not clear yet whether there will be enough demand for UH-Manoa classes on Fort Street Mall.

The college rented downtown office space between 2002 and 2005 and was unable to attract enough students, he said.

The university will allow the college to charge a 30 percent administrative fee for its programs to help pay for the lease rent, Cutshaw said. That charge had been cut to 27 percent this year.

Tanaka said it is possible the tuition for noncredit courses might also have to be increased next fall. But he noted that increasing tuition is a delicate matter.

“;There is a market valve for evening courses,”; Tanaka said. “;You can't peg it too high, or students won't pay.”;