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UH- Am Samoa Campus opening marks 45 years of partnership

President David Lassner,  UH Chief Global Officer Brent White, Dr. Laura Laolagi, Attorney Ivy Yeung surrounded by staff

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The inauguration of the UH-American Samoa Campus facility took place last week in the territory. The event featured a ribbon cutting and celebration dinner to mark the 45-year education partnership between the University of Hawaii (UH) and American Samoa.

The blessing and invocation for the ribbon-cutting ceremony was led by Reverend Elder Fouvale Asiata at the UH-American Samoa Center in the village of Puapua.

UH is grateful to landlords Henry and Tui Masaniai for leasing classroom and office space to UH, especially because there is a low vacancy rate while American Samoa Community College (ASCC) and other corporate building construction is underway. 

This ceremony was a culmination of years of dialogue initiated by Governor Lemanu P.S. Mauga to strengthen additional UH undergraduate and graduate degree programs for citizens of American Samoa. 

"We are grateful to American Samoa for so graciously welcoming UH to their community,” University of Hawaiʻi (UH) President David Lassner said.

 “This next step in our partnership will enable UH to provide more opportunity for American Samoa residents to earn higher education credentials and meet their community needs while staying home and remaining close to family.”

During his speech at the ceremony, Governor Lemanu conveyed gratitude for the University of Hawaii's continuous dedication to meeting the teacher education needs of American Samoa. He expressed, "I extend my sincere appreciation to the University of Hawaii for their steadfast support in molding the educational terrain of American Samoa.”

UH Chief Global Director Brent White accompanied President Lassner, Attorney Ivy Yeung, and PACMED Director, Dr. Deborah Zuercher from Hawaii to discuss new models for online degree programs in American Samoa. UH is excited about expanding online degree and certification opportunities for American Samoa students and sees potential for powerful global connections to be made in the process.

Following the formalities, attendees were treated to dinner and entertainment, presented by the current UH Cohort 36 and PACMED Cohort AS5 students, a total of nearly 60 students.


UH is a service provider to the Department of Education and works closely with in-service teachers to complete their bachelor's degree and teacher certification. UH has a high success rate of teacher retention and graduation across the years, but there remains an urgent need to equip more qualified teachers each year as teachers migrate out of the profession for personal and health reasons.

As a Pacific institution, the University of Hawaiʻi values reciprocal, respectful, and responsible partnerships. As such, courses taught in American Samoa integrate Faa Samoa Culture and language while fostering innovative 21st-century knowledge and skills. The UH-American Samoa program has full-time and part-time place-based leadership and instructional teams that are culturally responsive to the learning needs of American Samoa students.