prepared for the External Review of the Institute for Astronomy
University of Hawaii
The Institute for Astronomy (IfA) is the youngest of the "top-twenty" NRC-ranked
Astronomy Departments in the U.S. In its just over 30 years in existence it
has become one of the most respected astronomical institutions in the world.
The Mauna Kea and Haleakala Observatories on the islands of Hawaii and Maui
have grown into the worlds most powerful observatory complex. Astronomy in Hawaii
has become an international trademark of tremendous visibility. The fact that
the premier sites for ground-based observing in the world have been developed
and managed by a state university with little previous experience in such large
scientific ventures is a testimony to the vision and trust placed by the University
and the State in the IfA, and to the commitment of the people of Hawaii to develop
a first ranked scientific research program.
The potential of astronomy for the University and the State of Hawaii as a
pillar of academic excellence and an engine of economic growth is immense. However,
to fully utilize this potential the vision and scope of the IfA needs to be
- The IfA must take leadership in the development of the next generation of
the world's most powerful ground-based astronomical facilities. The new telescope
concepts developed by IfA researchers are the first step in this direction.
National and international partnerships are anticipated as a key element for
these very ambitious projects.
- As an institute distributed over three islands the IfA must strengthen its
activity on the islands of Hawaii and Maui. The proposed plan is to build
up Technology Centers in Hilo and Kula. This requires funding for operations,
equipment and personnel (technicians, engineers, faculty) to use the new facility
in Hilo and, in a first step, for the design and construction of a new facility
in Hilo. To maximize effectiveness as an enhanced multi-island organization
and to enable the IfA to undertake major research projects, the recently begun
IfA Administration reorganization must succeed in providing modern up-to-date
accounting and budget reporting services.
- Maintaining and strengthening the research activity is of paramount importance.
It is critical that all efforts are made to attract the very best people.
New facilities and instruments provide the IfA with a great potential for
attracting first-rank talent in these areas. Maintaining the theory group
is also seen as an important goal.
- Although the IfA is an "Organized Research Unit," teaching and education
must have a very high priority, and the instructional and research missions
need to be more closely integrated. The IfA should ensure that its teaching
contributions are more widely appreciated within the University and the State,
given the large number of Manoa undergraduates it teaches and the fact that
its faculty is responsible for the Astronomy Graduate (PhD) Programone
of the best within the United States. In addition, the Institute is eager
to strengthen its contributions to undergraduate education, including new
efforts on the neighbor islands.
- Outreach is a new IfA priority. The IfA must better articulate its true
role in astronomical research and education and make clear that the IfA Faculty
are truly at the forefront of astronomy research worldwide. The IfA offers
one of the University's top-rated graduate programs and provides an excellent
opportunity for Hawaii's children to become world leaders in science. The
IfA plays a tremendous role in bringing a source of pride to UH, and it needs
to better articulate its true contribution to research and teaching so that
its real mission is clearly understood by the citizens of the state. The goal
is to have an academically and technologically excellent IfA, which is much
better integrated into its university and the society of the Hawaiian islands.