Bob McLaren: Attention to Detail

As IFA Associate Director from 1990 to 2017, one of Bob McLaren’s jobs was to finalize agreements for construction of a new generation of telescopes. Even searching for the dawn of the Universe requires paperwork.

The Subaru Telescope, the second Keck Telescope, Gemini North, and the Submillimeter Array all needed to complete the permitting process with agreements worked out between UH and whoever was operating the telescope.

Over the next decade, McLaren catalyzed the growth of MKO from 3-meter class telescopes to 10-meter class telescopes, to build MKO’s reputation as the world’s premier observatory in the Northern Hemisphere.

In 2000, responding to community concerns over future development, the Mauna Kea Science Reserve Master Plan created the Office of Maunakea Management (OMKM), to take responsibility for mountain management.

After being the university’s managing entity for everything on the mountain, this meant the IfA could focus on science, and on future planning for astronomy activities and help protect Maunakea’s natural resources without having to manage them. The move also led to substantial direct benefits for the community from the astronomy programs.

“In the case of the Thirty Meter Telescope, $1 million each year supports STEM education through scholarships and grants for teachers on the Big Island. It’s part of a real effort to involve the community in the excitement of astronomical discovery,”  —  Bob Mclaren

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