VIDEO: UH Hilo Student Services Center breaks ground

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Video by David Corrigan

A group of dignitaries and University of Hawaii Hilo officials gathered on a sunny Saturday morning to break ground on a new Student Services Center on campus.

The future three-story building will serve as a much needed one stop hub for student registration, financial aid, and other assistance. Officials hope to see the building open in 2012.

A blessing by Kumu Kamuela Chun preceeded the groundbreaking on the site of the future structure. Big Island state lawmakers were in attendance, including the newly appointed state senators on the east side of Hawaii, Malama Solomon and Gilbert Kahele.

The University of Hawaii-Hilo issued this media release on Saturday:

A blessing and groundbreaking for the University of Hawai`i at Hilo’s new Student Services Center was held today at the project site fronting the Performing Arts Center.

“High quality services to students help them get the most out of their university experience,” said Chancellor Donald Straney. “This building will make it much easier to gain access to the excellent staff who guide and assist students throughout their college years from initial admission to graduation and beyond.”

The 35,000 square-foot, three-story structure will provide a one-stop shop to complete all the activities needed to become a full-fledged student at UH Hilo and complete registration for classes under one roof. The Center will also house all of the programs that students need to support their college success: Admissions Office; Office of the Registrar; Financial Aid Services; and the Cashier’s Office will be located on the first floor. The Advising Center, Career Development Services, Disability Services, Counseling Services, the Women’s Center and the new Health Promotion Program will be located on the second floor while the Offices of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students and other student support staff will be located on the third floor.

Dr. Luoluo Hong, vice chancellor for student affairs, says the Center represents a giant, positive step forward in changing the way the University meets students’ needs.

“Being sent to the distant corners of the campus to meet with an advisor, register for classes, obtain financial aid or to pay fees can be frustrating,” Hong said. “This building will reduce the run-around and enable us to deliver these important services in a more timely manner.”

Debra Fitzsimons, vice chancellor for administrative affairs, sees the Student Services Center as another element of innovation that is becoming common-place among universities

“One-stop student service centers are fast becoming the trend in servicing students on campuses across the United States,” Fitzsimons explained. “This is a convenience students are coming to expect when they enroll at a university and we’re pleased that this new building will enable us to provide it.”

Despite numerous requests and limited resources, House Higher Education Committee Chair Jerry Chang said there was broad-based support for the project.

“The Legislature and the Board of Regents wholeheartedly agreed that the Student Services Center was a major priority for UH Hilo,” Chang said. “Quality support for the needs of students is an important part of the educational experience.”

The $15.9 million building was designed by Urban Works, Inc. of Honolulu and will be built by Jacobsen Construction of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The building is tentatively scheduled to open in 2012. It will replace the existing Student Services Building, which will become the new home of the College of Business and Economics.

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