Gene Awakuni, chancellor of the University of Hawaii West Oahu College for the past seven and a half years, will retire at the end of the current academic year, UH said.
In a written statement, Awakuni said: “After 30 years in academia and since returning to Hawaii, my goal was always to get the new UHWO (UH West Oahu) campus built and opened and to offer four-year baccalaureate degrees. All of this is consistent with the vision that state leaders had for UHWO nearly four decades ago when they first envisioned a regional campus for this part of Oahu. As you all know, on Aug. 20, of this year, that goal was achieved and I feel the timing is now right to move on to the next phase of my life.
“The 36-year journey for UHWO has never been an easy one even before the construction of the Kapolei campus began. But what I have probably admired most about the UHWO community is the willingness of faculty and staff to persevere, to think outside of the box to serve our students and to focus not on the criticism from others but on the charge we are tasked with: providing a quality higher education to residents of leeward and north shore Oahu.”
Construction of the new Leeward Oahu campus began Aug. 16, 2010. After two years and $175 million, the Kapolei campus welcomed 1,800 students and 60 faculty members two months ago.
University President M. Greenwood said in a written statement: “The Board of Regents and I charged Chancellor Awakuni with getting UH West Oahu built and open by this fall and he did. This is one of the most important projects for higher education in the entire state of Hawaii and we are very proud that this campus opened to excited and enthusiastic students. We thank him, we will continue to work with him over this period and we will begin the search for a new chancellor in the near future. Once again, I have appreciated working with Chancellor Awakuni over the last few years and wish him the best."
Hired as chief executive of the West Oahu campus in March 2005, Awakuni earns $211,000.