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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 28, 2004

UH aims to raise $150M by late '05

By Beverly Creamer
Advertiser Education Writer

University of Hawai'i President Evan Dobelle promised legislators yesterday that within 20 months, UH will raise $150 million to finance a new Cancer Research Center and retrofit the Biomedical Sciences Building in Manoa.

Under persistent questioning by House Higher Education Committee Chairman K. Mark Takai, D-34th (Pearl City, Newtown, Royal Summit), Dobelle said he would have the money from federal, private and UH Foundation resources by September 2005.

"We're committed to that and confident of that," Dobelle told a joint hearing of the Senate Education Committee and House Higher Education Committee.

The cancer center, a major research arm of UH, is currently housed in cramped quarters near The Queen's Medical Center. The new John A. Burns School of Medicine under construction in Kaka'ako is scheduled to be complete by September 2005.

Takai, a constant critic of Dobelle's promise to raise the money to complete the $300 million Biomedical Complex envisioned mauka of scenic Kaka'ako Waterfront Park, pressed harder yesterday, questioning whether the fund-raising campaign has begun and whether the UH Board of Regents has approved it.

"We're waiting for progress on the $150 million and today we have nothing," Takai said.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Legislature gave the go-ahead for UH to build the new medical school to bolster the state economy. It also has allowed UH to issue bonds backed by money from tobacco settlement fund.

Implicit in that move was agreement that the university would raise money for the remainder of the planned complex, which may one day become a separate campus. However, the final site for the cancer center has not yet been determined and there is an ongoing tug of war between factions wanting to place it in Kaka'ako or closer to one of the major Honolulu hospitals.

Dobelle said the "quiet" phase of fund-raising has begun, and the entire scope of the campaign will officially come before the board at its February meeting. The UH Foundation, the private, nonprofit agency that raises money for the university, has met with some board members individually to brief them on the campaign that has been under development for the last year or more.

In other action yesterday, both Takai and university administrators raised the possibility of financing the UH system through some "per student" formula depending on enrollment. UH administrators make the point that overall enrollment has increased by 13 percent over the last three years, but the financing has not kept pace.

David McClain, vice president for academic affairs for the 10-campus system, said the university's accrediting agency is also making the point that financing should be "more closely tied to enrollment."

That would ostensibly see major increases for all campuses, especially community colleges such as Windward and Maui, where growth has been dramatic, and for UH-Hilo.

"If you guys do better and bring in more students, that should be rewarded," said Takai.

Reach Beverly Creamer at bcreamer@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8013.