Kalena Silva, a Hawaiian language professor at UH-Hilo, was among more than a hundred Hawaiian language teachers and students asking the University of Hawaii Board of Regents for promised funding yesterday.

Hawaiian language
program funded

Some at the UH Hilo campus say
the money is six years too late

HILO >> The University of Hawaii will provide $750,000 for Hawaiian language study at the Hilo campus and will seek another $3.9 million from the Legislature, university regents and President Evan Dobelle told Hawaiian language professors and students yesterday.

University of Hawaii More than 200 Hawaiian language supporters demonstrated yesterday at a Regents' committee meeting. Coinciding with the demonstration was the receipt of a letter from U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye supporting the request.

The money is six years late, Hawaiian studies professor Kalena Silva testified.

Need for the money was documented in a 1997 Hawaiian Language Task Force report to the Legislature, he said.

A College of Hawaiian Language at UH Hilo was created but no money was provided. The college has been funded "primarily through grants," a faculty statement said. The college has no dean or even a secretary, the statement said.

While the Hilo program scraped by, Dobelle provided $1.5 million to a Hawaiian studies program at UH Manoa, the faculty statement said.

In 2002, the Hilo language program had 515 students compared with 742 in the Manoa program. But the Hilo program has four faculty members, compared with 12 at Manoa.

The Hilo program has not received an additional tenure track professor in 11 years, Silva said.

University Vice President David McClain said it is "amazing" how the Hilo program has succeeded with little money.

"They certainly have not had the resources that were promised to them," he said.

The regents ordered Dobelle to report back in a year on efforts to fund a language college building.


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