State funding for public higher education in Hawaii always seems to boil down to a philosophical question: What exactly is the role and mission of the University of Hawaii system and is the return worth supporting with tax payer dollars?
Funding for higher education wasn’t always an uphill battle. Institutions of higher learning go back at least two millennia. The first university in the current sense dates back a mere thousand years, but the models of education have evolved over the years. The Morrill Act of 1862 and the GI Bill of 1944 transformed America.
The Morrill Act set up land grant universities that taught “liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.” The GI Bill put World War II veterans through college basically free of cost. It produced 14 Nobel Prize winners, three Supreme Court justices, three presidents, a dozen senators, two dozen Pulitzer Prize winners, and many others who have contributed back to society.