All Hawai'i Benefits From Our International University

02/12/2015 04:59 pm ET | Updated Apr 13, 2015

Each year thousands of individuals see beyond the obvious attraction of Hawai'i as a vacation destination and come to our state in pursuit of higher education. A significant number of Hawai'i's international students are enrolled at Hawai'i Pacific University, and we are pleased to welcome them to our state and our University. We express it in our mission: Hawai'i Pacific University is an international learning community set in the rich cultural context of Hawai'i.

Creating a truly international university requires more than attracting international students; it also calls for welcoming them into a dynamic, sharing, and supportive community. You'll see our international students on Fort Street Mall, enjoying the company of their HPU colleagues at one of the cafes, gathering with friends and speaking in their native languages, or engaging in school work on a laptop. We are proud that within the context of Hawai'i's famously multi-cultural community, we enhance the experience of students from around the world and offer experiences that reach far beyond the classroom. It's no wonder that according to a 2013 online study conducted by College Factual, HPU is recognized as America's No. 1 university for diversity, and the Institute of International Education (IIE) lists us among the top thirty most internationally diverse master's level institutions in the U.S.

HPU extends its commitment to global connections in education through our participation in the Study Hawai'i Educational Consortium, joining other educational institutions to showcase Hawai'i and its schools to international students. In November, an HPU staff member joined fellow Study Hawai'i representatives on a trip to Taipei and Beijing, an initiative supported by Governor David Ige and led by the Hawai'i Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. The group had an opportunity to meet with students, parents, educators and business leaders, and shared a myriad of reasons Hawai'i should be considered as an educational destination -- including our multicultural atmosphere, natural living laboratory, healthy environment, high quality of life and safe community.

HPU's international learning community benefits more than our international students. In striving for a student mix of one-third each of students from Hawai'i, the continental U.S. and international regions, HPU's goal is a global mix of students that becomes a strategic asset of both the university and our state, positioning us for excellence in emerging markets and a changing world.

Our international students also bring powerful economic impacts: A November report by IIE notes international students in Hawai'i supported nearly 1,000 total local jobs and added an estimated $107.1 million in total revenue between 2013 and 2014.

Just last December we said a hui hou -- until we meet again -- to our newest alumni at the HPU Commencement ceremony. This class of graduates represented 36 nations and joined more than 40,000 fellow alumni, comprising a vital worldwide network. As our world continues to grow more interconnected, the friendships formed, exchanges made, and experiences enjoyed at HPU will help our graduates navigate the ever-changing environments in the world. They also form an expanding cadre of business, political, and community leaders whose enduring links to Hawai'i will encourage them to look to our state for continuing opportunities. Whether HPU alumni hail from Waipahu or Tokyo, Los Angeles or Stockholm, Buenos Aires or Nairobi, they will always carry with them their personal connection to Hawai'i, a bond that will benefit all of us far into the future.