Safety concerns persist with no answers in sight for aging facilities at UH Manoa

Local News

It’s consistently ranked nationally among the top graduate schools in education.

But for nearly a year now, classrooms used by the College of Education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa have been shut down.

Two buildings used by the department are closed for safety reasons, and classrooms have been relocated.

The school says it’s not impacting enrollment, but the head of the department says he’s still waiting for answers about what’s going to happen next.

We’ve learned faculty has pushed for years for building improvements, but at the moment, we’re told it’s not a high priority for the university.

Across from the College of Education’s administration building sits Building 1 and Building 2, former education classrooms that are rundown and no longer in use.

Three subjects – science, arts, and general requirements classes – have been relocated to other parts of campus.

With just under 2,000 students, we’re told it doesn’t make the most ideal learning environment.

We spoke with the dean of the College of Education, and although he wouldn’t talk on camera, he did say they are “making do” with the situation, but admits it’s not “the most convenient thing in the world.”

The dean says he hasn’t heard about a more “permanent” solution for months, since December 2015.

We asked state Sen. Brian Taniguchi, D, chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education and the Arts: “Can the College of Education get new buildings?”

“It’s a good question. I think over the past 10, 12, 15 years, the College of Education has always been one of the programs with a middle-level priority in the university system. When it comes here, it’s a little harder for them,” he replied. “The past couple of times, they’ve tried to get large monies for improvements, but other projects got ahead of them… There’s certainly a good chance they could get the monies if the university supported these appropriations.”

We asked the university, where does the College of Education rank for building improvements?

In a statement, a spokesman says “we’ll do everything we can to modernize facilities across the UH system. We’re trying to prioritize where we spent our money effectively and efficiently.”

He says leadership has to decide where their “limited funding” goes to address critical need.

Right now, Snyder Hall is the most critical facility on campus, and the College of Education is not on the top 10 list for facilities that need to be addressed on campus.

As for the College of Education, the dean says he expects to hear answers by the end of the week.

The department turns out more than 65 percent of Hawaii’s teachers.

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