In 1907 Hawai‘i's fledgling College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, boasting an enrollment of five students and a staff of twelve, opened in a rented house on Young Street. The hastily improvised college, and the university into which it grew, owed its existence to the initiative of Native Hawaiian legislators, the advocacy of a Caucasian newspaper editor, the petition of an Asian American bank cashier, and the energies of a president and faculty recruited from Cornell University in distant Ithaca, New York. Today, nearly a century later, some 50,000 students are enrolled yearly at ten campuses--in a unique system of community colleges and professional schools.
Malamalama: A History of the University of Hawai‘i documents the many contributions the University has made over the decades to culture and education in the islands. From its start, the University rejected the racial stereotyping and prejudice common in territorial Hawai‘i, thus fostering an ease of association among students of diverse backgrounds and providing, through student government and campus societies, a venue where future political leaders of the islands could hone their skills. The story of how the University of Hawai‘i grew from a regional undergraduate college to an internationally recognized graduate and research university, weathering repeated crises along the way, is told by emeritus professors Kamins and Potter in Part I. They highlight the University's relationship with the legislature, the actions and personalities of its very different presidents, and the effects of social upheaval and changing budgets on an evolving institution. Three alumni provide personal accounts of their years at the University. Parts II and III offer particular histories by knowledgeable contributors, including faculty members and administrators, of the Hilo and West Oahu campuses, of each fo the seven community colleges, and of programs at the Manoa campus.
The strands of history woven together here reveal the University's abiding determination to serve as a cultural link across the Pacific and among Hawai‘i's own ethnic communities. The University seal, dominated by the Hawaiian word malamalama, "light of knowledge," depicts a map of the Pacific hemisphere, celebrating the great diversity of people and cultures that contributed to its founding and the westward reach of its connections.