College of Pharmacy celebrates new buildings in traditional Hawaiian ceremon

October 20, 2009

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo College of Pharmacy marked a milestone Saturday, October 17 with a Blessing Ceremony in honor of three modular buildings that represent Phase I of the College’s temporary home. The compound, which was complete in August, is now being used by UH Hilo students and faculty, and includes offices, an auditorium, laboratories and research facilities.

"The facilities are really a significant first step toward answering the state’s need for more professionals that are committed to professional healthcare," said Gerald De Mello, director of university relations. "The Pharmacy program gives a national distinction in many ways to the island and for our community, and adds a vitality to our University and our town. It will take us to our long-sought goal of redefining the basis of economics in Hilo to depend on a knowledge institution that helps move the town, the island and the state forward."

Chancellor Rose Tseng spoke to the more than 65 people who attended, and recognized several dignitaries in attendance who have helped the College of Pharmacy, including Rep. Jerry Chang, Pat Deleon, chief of staff to Senator Daniel Inouye, Hilo attorney Roy Nakamoto, retired pharmacist Ron Okamura, member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, Representative Clift Tsuji, Allan Onishi, president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawaiʻi, Phoebe Lambeth, Rotary Club of South Hilo, and Harvey Tajiri, UH Board of Regent.

"Without the state legislature, we would never have gotten this far," Tseng said. "With Dean John Pezzuto’s guidance, the College has already attracted top-notch faculty who really are modern-day pioneers working to make this a health care Mecca of the Pacific. But it takes a community to make this happen."

Pezzuto expressed gratitude to the community, as well as to John Dill, the construction company that built the modular compound and provided the tent for the affair.

"These buildings actually got us on the map – the campus map," Pezzuto said. "We are extremely grateful to the state legislature for giving us hope and the strength to carry ahead to reach our vision to become a top-rated College of Pharmacy."

Danny Akaka Jr., son of U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, conducted the traditional blessing.

"Use this time to move with the flow and to enjoy what nature gives us," Akaka said. "It’s a symbol that we’re not alone. We’re surrounded by the beauty of this place and the ancestors who were here before us."

See more news from 2009.