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Building for the Future

By Office of Communication Services    Published on 05/22/2013 More stories >>

Governor Ben Cayetano, Sen. Inouye, UH president Kenneth
Mortimer, and Sen. Daniel K. Akaka at the Ag Science III dedication in 2000.

(left to right) Governor Ben Cayetano, Sen. Inouye, UH president Kenneth Mortimer, and Sen. Daniel K. Akaka at the Ag Science III dedication in 2000.

The Senator’s legacy includes many intangibles: hope, pride, community spirit. But it includes things more tangible as well, one of the solidest of them a building. He was instrumental in securing the federal funds used to construct UH-Manoa’s Agricultural Sciences III, a $25 million advanced agricultural research facility.

By the mid-1990s, the need for such a facility had become clear. Many of the buildings that had originally housed CTAHR had been repurposed, and displaced researchers were scattered throughout the campus, often working in small and unsuitable spaces. The department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences was divided among 7 buildings! Consultation and collaboration were more difficult, and laboratory facilities and sufficient classrooms for students were lacking. Much of the CTAHR ‘ohana needed a home.

Ag Science III building

UH-Manoa’s Agricultural Sciences III research facility.

“A building for CTAHR was not the highest priority for UH and the State,” former Planning and Management Systems Director Walter Harada concedes. “However, once Sen. Inouye secured Federal funds for Ag Sci III, it paved the way for CTAHR and UH to get matching State funds. I think it would be fair to say that Ag Sci III became a reality only because Sen. Inouye agreed to help.”

The building, dedicated in January 2000, now houses the offices, labs, and classrooms of the Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering and Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences departments, along with some members of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences and O‘ahu County Extension. Here the Western Insular Pacific SunGrant Subcenter biofuel project researches fast-growing feedstocks for plant-based energy, and here are test kitchens where students, under the mentorship of their professors, formulate, test, and create the value-added local foods sold under UH’s Kulanui brand. The CHL project is housed within its walls, as are labs and offices focusing on synthetic biology, the molecular genetics of koa, and improving food safety and community nutrition. The knowledge gained and discoveries made here, and in CTAHR’s many other facilities throughout the state, are a tribute to Sen. Inouye’s enduring commitment to education and agriculture.