Univ. of Hawaii – U.S. Pacific Command Partnership

The University of Hawaii (UH) and the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the two organization's collaborative efforts to improve and solve sustainability and resiliency issues in the Asia Pacific region. The three signatories of the MOU were UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, Adm. Robert F. Willard, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command and UH Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw. Both Admiral Willard and President Greenwood admitted when the group first got together in January 2011, both organizations were apprehensive about how this relationship would take shape, if at all. Historically the relationship between the University of Hawaii and the U.S. military has seen it's ups and downs. President Greenwood said, "We are the two most influential and powerful institutions in the State of Hawaii, and yet we have not found the ways and connections to work together." But as a result of the conference in January, the two groups were able to craft a framework for an ongoing partnership. Colleagues commented later to Greenwood that this should have been done a long time ago. The MOU identified three key area for immediate focus: Energy, Water and Disaster Management. Some of near term partnering areas include:
  1. Examine implementing alternative energy sources for PACOM installations and on certain humanitarian assistance projects;
  2. Leverage UH capability and training to complement and support PACOM roles in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief work around the region;
  3. Build on UH and PACOM capabilities in a variety of water projects, particularly leveraging interests in the lower Mekong;
  4. Define partnership projects in some aspect of ocean fisheries and maritime security.
They each emphasized taking immediate action on near term projects so that the success of working together would create traction. One project that comes to mind is the School of Nursing working with the Pacific Partnership and the hospital ship USN Mercy. Key members of the steering committee include Rear Admiral Robin M. Watters, Dr. Rich Berry for PACOM and Dr. Gary Ostrander and Dr. David Lassner for the Univ. of Hawaii. It will be interesting to see what projects result from this relationship and whether or not they achieve the traction needed to keep a partnership like this viable over the years. If they can accomplish this Hawaii will certainly benefit. * Photo courtesy of Dallas Nagata White