UH Manoa Accreditation Reaffirmed Through 2010
Accreditation team praises new, energetic leadership at UH Manoa and declares campusUniversity of Hawaiʻi
HONOLULU — The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) has issued its findings regarding the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UH Mānoa), noting that it had found "a university community dramatically changed" from the time of the last WASC visit in 1999. WASC indicated that it will return for a full review of the campus in 2009-2010 to reaffirm accreditation.
"I am extremely proud of Interim Chancellor Neubauer, Chancellor Englert and the entire Mānoa team. Together we have taken the critical steps necessary over the past two years to turn things around," said UH President Evan S. Dobelle. "The feedback from the WASC team validates the importance of challenging the status quo."
The WASC team found that "campus constituencies were energetic, involved and optimistic about the institution and its ability to deal with difficult issues. Those we met with were, in general, optimistic about the potential of their voices being heard as the university grapples with change, budgetary pressures and key institutional changes."
"We are, of course, very pleased to have this outside review of our progress toward strengthening the Mānoa campus as a vibrant, innovative and engaged place of learning," UH Mānoa Chancellor Peter Englert said. "This is a time of tremendous change, and that brings with it some stress as we set priorities in the face of limited resources. However, I believe we have created some momentum for change now, and that we can use our collective intellectual energy to move forward in a positive manner."
The four-member team visited the UH Mānoa campus in mid-March as a follow-up to a 1999 WASC review. At that time, the team continued UH Mānoa‘s full accreditation, but also stated concerns about the university‘s ability to deal with issues in four areas: a need for clarified leadership throughout the institution; planning, priority setting and action; student and educational program quality; and assessment and the use of data.
The 2003 team found improvements in all areas, and additionally noted that new UH Mānoa Chancellor Peter Englert has publicly affirmed the importance of broad consultation to improve campus communication — another area of special concern in 1999.
The report noted the creation of two new administrative consultative groups that involve deans as members of the university-wide administrative team and on which the UH Mānoa Faculty Senate Chair serves as well. The report adds, "Students in general are positive about recent and planned changes at the university, such as the new general education program, (and) they sense the faculty‘s excitement about curriculum and instructional innovations."
The WASC team noted as positives the revision of UH Mānoa‘s general education program and a stepped up assessment and academic program review processes. UH Mānoa‘s new—and widely acclaimed—Strategic Plan was also singled out for praise, as were the considerable increases in support for the library and a strategic plan for the information technology environment.
Regarding the significant changes instituted in response to the 1999 recommendations, the 2003 report said that while "these improve the quality of the institution, and position it for excellence… the key challenge for the administration and all university stakeholders will be to maintain these many changes, and to ensure that they become permanent and an understood part of the UH Mānoa culture."
The WASC team pointed to the creation of the separate UH Mānoa chancellor‘s position as important to defining clear leadership for the campus, but noted that relationships between UH Mānoa and the UH system remained to be fully defined and delineated.
In regard to priority setting, the team‘s findings and recommendations support Chancellor Englert‘s statements about the importance of "an appropriately transparent and timely budget process, which is defined by clearly understood policy and aligns resource allocation with campus strategic goals."
The report also recommends further detailed planning in the area of research and graduate education to ensure that resources are allocated in line with the clearly stated declaration that "the essence of UH Mānoa is research."
Chancellor Englert added, "Former Interim UH Mānoa Chancellor Deane Neubauer laid the foundation and the team that prepared for the accreditation commission‘s visit was very thorough in gathering materials and analyzing our progress. We are grateful for their work under the leadership of Karl Kim, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and his Associate Vice Chancellor, Denise Konan."
For more information, visit: http://www.hawaii.edu/wasc