By COLIN M. STEWART
Tribune-Herald staff writer
The University of Hawaii Board of Regents chose to honor on Thursday the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye by naming UH-Hilo’s College of Pharmacy after the man credited with securing funding to get the school’s ball rolling.
The 88-year-old Inouye, who died on Dec. 17 after a long and storied career in the U.S. Senate, was memorialized by various Hilo-area politicians, UH representatives and affiliates as they provided testimony asking for approval of the measure before the board.
Among them was 2011 graduate Jessica Toyama, one of the first class of graduates from the pharmacy program. Now a pharmacist with Walgreens on Oahu, Toyama said her education and career path would not have been possible without Inouye’s influence.
Born in Aiea on Oahu, Toyama said she attended the University of Washington at Seattle for her undergraduate degree, and the new addition of the pharmacy program at UH-Hilo meant she could return home to Hawaii to complete her studies and find work.
“We know that none of this would be possible without the late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s hard work, his vision, and his belief that a pharmacy program could thrive, particularly here on the Big Island, with the intent to serve the underserved.”
The regents responded to the overwhelming show of support from Toyama and the other speakers with unanimous approval.
A spokeswoman for the college said Thursday afternoon that the new name, “The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy,” was adopted immediately. Signage, a plaque or other recognition is likely to follow, she said, but “there are no definite plans” currently.
After the vote, College of Pharmacy Dean John Pezzuto said adopting Inouye’s name was an honor for the college, and the perfect capstone to the senator’s efforts to improve education and health care opportunities on Hawaii’s neighbor isles.
“I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for us, I think it acknowledges our accomplishments, it recognizes the senator’s legacy to our program and our students.”
In his testimony, Pezzuto called Inouye “the father of our college, both conceptually and intellectually. … Our faculty, staff, students, affiliates and supporters are all acutely aware of the dominant role he played in our history.”
In a press release issued after the meeting, UH-Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney explained that Inouye had left an indelible mark on the Hilo campus, as well as every other campus across the state.
“Building a high-quality college of pharmacy on Hawaii Island was part of Sen. Inouye’s vision to encourage better health care throughout the Pacific region and throughout the neighbor islands of Hawaii,” he said. “His vision was that each neighbor island would harbor a center of excellence, that every island should have its own specialty. The specialty for Hawaii Island envisioned by Sen. Inouye was our own College of Pharmacy.”
Inouye helped to launch the College of Pharmacy in 2001 by securing just under $1 million to develop “a comprehensive long-term strategy for establishment of a clinical pharmacy program at UH Hilo,” according to a college history.
Email Colin M. Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.