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KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Hundreds of people, including Gov. Neil Abercrombie and several lawmakers, were among those who gathered Thursday to celebrate the soon-to-open new campus for the University of Hawaii-West Oahu.
They were part of an invitation-only reception, held in a large tent on the Great Lawn of the new campus in Kapolei.
"It's the most important thing that's happened in higher education in the last 25 or 50 years here in Hawaii, and we've opened up a whole a new area of Oahu to its students," said UH President M.R.C. Greenwood.
The new campus along Farrington Highway currently has six buildings in Phase One, including classrooms, a campus center and a library, an administration building and a campus center. It's part of the state's plan to improve and expand the entire UH system, not just Manoa.
"We would not be in fact Manoa-centric, but we would reach out to the entire island, to the community college system and to the neighbor islands," said Gov. Abercrombie. "So West Oahu is the latest manifestation of that commitment that has been decades in the making."
Classes for UH-West Oahu campus had been held in portable classrooms in the parking lot of Leeward Community College in Waipahu for years.
Abercrombie yesterday released $92 million to fund capital improvement projects for UH campuses statewide. They include $2.5 million to complete site work for Phase One at West Oahu, along with $1.25 million to build a private road that will serve as the entrance to the new campus. There's also money for the design of two more buildings, including a creative media center.
"We're going to have a state-of-the-art digital media center here that we hope will complement the movie and cinema industry and TV industry. So West Oahu is going to be at the center of all of that," Gov. Abercrombie said.
"There's a lot left to do on all of our campuses," said Greenwood. "But we're grateful for the fact that the legislature and the governor helped us get this done."
The public will get the chance to see the new West Oahu campus at an open house Saturday.