The university first opened in 1907 as the College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts. The school opened up with only 10 students and 13 faculty members. It graduated its first class of three students in 1912. That same year, the school was renamed the College of Hawaii and moved to Manoa Valley. William Kwai Fong Yap petitioned the territorial legislature for university status in 1920. The University of Hawaii graduated its first Ph.D., J. S. Phillips in 1931, who wrote his dissertation about ant control in pineapple fields.
In 1941, the school was closed for two months following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1964, UH created the modern UH Community Colleges system, with Honolulu, Kapiolani, Kauai, and Maui campuses. Hawaii voters strongly supported constitutional autonomy for the University in 2000, which gave more control to the university in matters concerning the management of its resources.
The university has approximately 4,200 faculty members distributed among its 10 campuses. They teach more than 600 programs, including a number of web-based distance-learning opportunities.
The University of Hawaii's annual budget is about $902.3 million, amounting to about 8 percent of the state’s total operating budget. Its budget is separate from the department of education's budget. Its funding sources include the state general fund, tuition, student fees, special funds and grants.
The University of Hawaii receives its accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Schools. In 2004, the university almost lost its accreditation over a disagreement between the board and then-president Evan Dobelle over his alleged use of university funds for personal purposes. The negative attention lowered morale within the university system. In April 2010, the commission reported marked improvement in the relationship between the board and the president, and an overall higher morale among students and faculty.
Board of Regents:
The University of Hawaii Board of Regents is the primary authority for the university system. The 15 regents are nominated by a special council for that purpose, and then appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature. The regents appoint a university president who is then responsible for carrying out the policies and standards issued by the board.
• UH Manoa — The University of Hawaii at Manoa was established in 1907 and is the flagship campus of the UH System. The university is ranked as a Division I athletics program and is a part of NCAA. UH Manoa is a 320-acre campus situated just outside downtown Honolulu.
• UH Hilo — Located on the Big Island in Hawaii, the University of Hawaii at Hilo was established in 1947. Its strengths are the studies of volcanoes, marine sciences and astronomy. The campus houses some of the world’s best telescopes. UH Hilo is also the only place in the nation where students can earn a master’s degree in indigenous language studies.
• UH West Oahu — University of Hawaii-West Oahu is located in Pearl City and was established in 1976.
• Hawaii Community College — Located on the Big Island, Hawaii Community College was established in 1941 primarily to provide vocational education in areas such as automotive mechanics, carpentry, machine shop, and dress making. HCC eventually incorporated programs such as agriculture and nursing.
• Honolulu Community College — Located near downtown Honolulu, Honolulu Community College was established in 1920. It has a liberal arts curriculum focused in aviation, automotive arts, transportation, IT, communications, and construction.
• Kapiolani Community College — Located near Diamond Head, on the island of Oahu, Kapiolani Community College was established in 1964. It is known for its culinary arts program, health sciences, and emergency medical services.
• Kauai Community College — Located on the island of Kauai, Kauai Community College was established in 1964. The college focuses on vocational and professional training for transfer-level liberal arts education.
• Leeward Community College — Located near Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Leeward Community College was established in 1968. The school has a strong culinary arts program, as well as professional and community performing arts programs that attract thousands each year.
• Maui College — Maui College is located in Kahului, Maui and was established in 1964. Maui College is often noted for their culinary arts program and the Maui Language Institute.
• Windward Community College — Windward Community College is located in Kaneohe on Oahu and was established in 1972. It is known for its creative arts and Hawaiian Studies.