HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As universities across the nation try to reopen amid the pandemic, Hawaii Pacific University is gearing up for a fall with a big increase in first-time students.
The university says it’s seen a record 71% jump in first-time student enrollment.
“I think Hawaii is viewed, and HPU is particularly viewed, as a very sort of wonderful location to come to and it’s safe,” said HPU President John Gotanda. “During the pandemic, we did extremely well. We haven’t had a COVID-19 case involving an on-campus, student living on campus since January.”
HPU is preparing to welcome more students from Hawaii and around the world, adding to its enrollment of over 4,000. The private university remained opened though the pandemic and offered hybrid classes that allowed for online and in-person instruction.
But this fall, there will be more of a return to a pre-COVID experience.
“We have had traditionally a large online program to begin with,” Gotanda said.
“What we allowed students to do last year was switch back and forth even in the middle of the semester and I think when we go into fall, we will see much more slowly a return to normal in terms of our class schedules and how classes will look.”
The change is a welcome development for some students.
“While at first Zoom was nice, Zoom fatigue is a legitimate thing,” said HPU sophomore Kaiao Cobeen “I needed to be able to talk people in-person more.”
Due to the spike in enrollment, HPU needs dorm space so it will be leasing rooms at a Waikiki hotel ― complete with transportation, staffing, and meals.
“I think they will find that it’s going to be actually really an exciting venue for them because it’s going to offer them an alternative that we don’t have,” Gotanda said.
The school has implemented regular testing and requires masking, but is still evaluating if it plans to make the COVID vaccine mandatory.