(BIVN) – The main entry road to the Hawai‘i Community College – Pālamanui in North Kona will now be known as “Rockne Freitas Way,” named after the late HCC chancellor who played a major role in developing the campus.
The University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents approved the naming at an August 17 board meeting.
“Dad believed in education,” said son Makai Freitas, who testified at the meeting alongside brother Makoa. “He believed education was a path forward, so the (symbolism) of Rockne Freitas Way resonates a lot for us.”
From the University of Hawaiʻi:
Hawai‘i CC – Pālamanui opened its doors in 2015 after years of planning and construction. The new campus is also home to the University Center, West Hawai‘i and created a permanent home for higher education in West Hawai‘i, which had been one of the most underserved regions of the state.
Freitas died in 2022 and served in many leadership roles at UH, including as Hawai‘i CC chancellor from 2004–10. He was a driving force in securing funding and establishing the partnerships that would allow the Hawai‘i CC – Pālamanui campus to be built.
“While at Hawai‘i Community College, he had a vision on ways to help the youth of West Hawai‘i and inspired the community to make the campus at Pālamanui a reality,” said Interim Hawai‘i CC Chancellor Susan Kazama in her testimony to the BOR. “His legacy is his strong advocacy and advancement of Native Hawaiians and other underserved populations. His impact on our college will always be felt. Naming the entryway after Rockne Freitas is an appropriate honor to preserve his legacy.”
Following his All-Pro career as an NFL lineman, Freitas served in several administrative roles during a 23-year career at the University of Hawai‘i. He was a pioneer in Native Hawaiian advancement, including as a leader in establishing Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao, a plan for UH to become the model Indigenous-serving higher education institution in the state and the nation.
Raynette “Kalei” Haleamau-Kam, the director of Hawai‘i CC – Palamanui, has worked at the college for more than 30 years and has seen up close the transformation brought about through Freitas’ efforts.
“I would like to mahalo Rockne for his leadership and tenacity to not give up on our community,” said Haleamau-Kam. “Now it is up to us to continue his vision and preserve his legacy.”
The University says there will be an event later in the semester to celebrate the honorific naming.