On March 18 - 20, 2003, the University of Hawaii - West O'ahu [UHWO] was visited by a team from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges as part of a preparatory review for re-accreditation under the new WASC standards of accreditation. The team was made up of the following individuals:
Diane Cordero de Noriega, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs,
CSU Monterey Bay; chair
Richard Giardina, Associate Vice President for Academic Planning and Assessment,
San Francisco State University; assistant chair
David Schwalm, Vice Provost and Dean of East College;
Arizona State University East
During the course of its visit, team members met with numerous members of the university's faulty, staff, administration, and student body. Additionally, it had a meeting with representatives of Leeward Community College [LCC], on whose campus the university is presently housed. It also me by teleconference with University [of Hawaii] Centers staff of the neighboring islands of Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii, who provide support services to students on those islands taking West O'ahu degree programs being offered through distance or distributed learning. The team also had an opportunity to see the university's various facilities and to spend time in the team room reviewing numerous institutional documents organized into an institutional portfolio.
Established in 1976, the University of Hawaii - West O'ahu is a relatively new campus of the University of Hawaii system. In 1998, the university moved its campus from its previous site on the western end of Leeward Community College to a site on the eastern end. The move increased the institution's operating space from 5,600 square feet to approximately 30,000 square feet and allowed the institution to acquire the necessary office space equipment, and other physical resources to support its educational programs. The university is still slated to move once more to a permanent campus, but, as of yet, no State funds have been allocated to build this new, four-year, campus.
At present, the university operates totally at the upper-division level and offers four degree programs: a BA in Public Administration, Humanities, Business Administration, and Social Science, with the latter two being offered both on-campus and off-campus [off-island]. The campus does not provide a General Education curriculum, rather accepting students who have completed their General Education elsewhere.
The university presently employs 31.5 faculty; 25 institutional faculty [an increase of 13.6% from the 22 in 1997], 1.5 librarians, and five non-institutional faculty specialists. On average, the institution hires approximately 30 adjunct faculty per semester. Just recently, the university has finally been able to fill a key position in Hawaiian/Pacific Studies, a position that had previously been vacant for several years. In the past few years, there has been a significant increase in student enrollments-from a headcount of 650 in 1997 to 830 in Fall 2002 [an increase of 27.7%].
The administration of the university is in the hands of a chancellor, assisted by a dean of student services, a director of administrative services, and the chairs of the institution's academic divisions [faculty members with a one-course reduction].
In its last accreditation action letter [WASC Executive Director Ralph Wolff to West O'ahu Interim Chancellor Joanne Clark] dated 6 July 1998, the WASC Commission noted several issues for the campus to address. These included the following:
- Improve the current facilities of the university, establish long-term planning for the permanent campus, and install new permanent leadership
- Develop a student outcomes plan for the campus with clearly identified academic goals and reliable measures of achievement
- Engage in external reviews of programs with specific measures of effectiveness identified and evaluated
- Increase the size of the faculty to ensure that students are exposed to a broader variety
- Improve coordination with Leeward Community College
As these issues are still of on-going concern, they will each be addressed during the course of the report.
Facilities: With an eight million dollar planning allocation, the University of Hawaii -West O'ahu carried out an extensive planning process for a master plan for a new campus. Working with the DLR consulting group, a series of planning meetings have been held that have resulted in some sample proposed master plans for a campus. A site has been selected; and, after many years of promise and delay, the campus is more than ready to move forward. However, the funding for the build-out of the new campus has been removed from the State budget; and, in these tough economic times, it does not appear that the funding will be available in the short-term. During the review of the University of Hawaii system, held immediately before the team visit to the West O'ahu campus, University President Evan Dobelle shared many possible options for West O'ahu, but nothing definite. The advice from the system level is that UHWO should plan for a four-year program, but not necessarily plan for a new campus. With regard to the WASC visit, the team made clear to the university that it needed to evaluate based on where the campus is today rather than on the potential of new buildings.
Current space: Clearly, West O'ahu is in a better and more accommodating location than it was at the time of the last visit. It occupies portable buildings arranged around a courtyard. The classrooms have appropriate technology and will accommodate class sizes of 25-40. Student services are in appropriate space that is welcoming and useful.
Permanent leadership: Another issue raised in the last letter from WASC was the need to install permanent leadership on site at the West O'ahu campus. In response, Dr. William Pearman was appointed Chancellor in 1999.
Strategic Plan: The UHWO new strategic plan was approved in Fall 2002, after the system-wide strategic plan was approved in the Spring of 2002. Several West O'ahu faculty participated in the system-level planning process; and their perspective helped the West O'ahu planning group align with the system plan. The campus reviewed its mission and made efforts to make it less tentative in regard to the vision of the new, four-year, campus. There was strong community involvement in the UHWO strategic planning process. Several legislators participated, and there were attempts at building bridges with the Manoa campus. As always, the discussion returned to the building of a permanent physical campus.
The strategic plan clearly spells out the goal of building a four-year academic program. The plan, however, does not include the "product" or anticipated result in the section on Key Performance Indicators. Nor does it include an academic plan containing the specifics of growth in enrollment; growth and development of academic programs, including lower division; and the faculty and staffing necessary to deliver the curriculum. Additionally, a process for assessing the implementation of the strategic plan so that the campus can monitor progress annually has not been established.
Academic Plan: As indicated above, UHWO does not currently have an academic plan to structure the transitioning to a four-year program as well as for other planning purposes. Currently, there are ideas proposed for building new programs, but with no process for deciding what should go forward and why. The strategic plan sets the general direction for the campus; but what is missing is a more detailed tactical plan describing the current and anticipated academic program; how it reflects the core values of the institution; how it is supported and assessed; and how new curricula are proposed and approved.
The University of Hawaii engages in a two-year budget process with the State legislature. In year two, campuses can go back for a supplemental allocation. The legislature determines the total amount of the budget, but the governor then can restrict certain amounts of that budget. The system office makes allocations to the campuses which can include additional cuts and reallocations. It is not clear to anyone on the campus how the campus allocations are calculated. There is a critical need for the budgeting process at the system level to be much more transparent and predictable in order for the campus to engage in meaningful planning.
There are two major sources of revenue-the general fund [mainly tuition dollars] and special funds. Any general fund dollars are swept up at the end of each fiscal year, while special funds can be carried over. However, spending caps are imposed on the special funds by legislative mandate. Campuses try to fill positions out of the general - fund rather than special funds, since, with general fund monies, the campus does not have to cover benefits. If positions are established out of special funds, then the campus is responsible for the benefits. Currently some of the special funds are being held back in order to implement the new Banner student information system. During the past few years, campuses have attempted to backfill some of the general fund budget cuts with special funds. Since these funds are the only dollars that a campus receives to serve new student enrollment, this is a very shortsighted approach. It is clear that the UHWO administration and faculty feel hamstrung and in the dark about how budget decisions are made and what to expect each year.
At present, campus chancellors do not have predictable information for planning. Nor do they have requisite authority for decision-making. For example, they are now placed in the position of having to request faculty and staff positions from the system administration. If, instead, they received a general allocation that allowed them to make their own decisions internally based on system and campus planning parameters, then they could be held accountable by the system office for the expenditure of funds.
There is a sense of hope on the UHWO campus that, under the new system-wide reorganization, the campus will be treated more equitably. Campus planners feel that there has been support from the Board of Regents and from the president of the system for greater funding for West O'ahu.
In regard to the role of campus faculty and staff in the budget planning process, it appears to be an appropriate one. There is a faculty senate standing committee for budget and marketing that helps to consolidate faculty requests and priorities. The committee is a recommending body to the chancellor.
One area of concern the team was not able to resolve is that the spreadsheets in the campus portfolio were very confusing. The campus reported that those spreadsheets were generated by the system; the message conveyed to the team was that they were not accurate. However, no one present at the institution was able to produce budget documents developed at the local level. One key staff member was absent during the visit, and it is possible that she is the only one who can retrieve this information. The team can thus not state with confidence that the campus financial records are well kept.
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SYSTEM
The reorganization of the University of Hawaii system is not yet complete, so it is somewhat difficult to determine how the new structure will interact with campuses. It appears desirable that the new relationship be made clear as soon as possible. If the new Council of Chancellors [to include both university and community college chancellors within the UH system] is to become a working body, its role needs to be clarified. How will the chancellors interact with system office leadership? What kind of support can they expect?
Currently there is an impression among UHWO faculty and staff that the system favors Manoa and that the others must scramble for the "crumbs." There is hope that the new system organization will provide for more equitable treatment and that individual university and community college campuses will have a greater voice. It is not clear, however, how such a collective voice would be exercised or what part West O'ahu would have in this voice, as the chancellors have not established their own working relationships with one another in order to exert influence as appropriate. Such working relationships would seem important in redefining the roles of the individual campuses and their relationships within the system.
With regard to planning for the new campus, UHWO needs to work with the President's Office on an entirely new strategy to accomplish this goal. The campus can use the good work that has already been done in drafting a proposed master plan for the build-out of a new campus. Now the system office needs to work with the campus to develop a long-term strategy for implementing this master plan in "do-able" chunks over time.
THE ACADEMIC PROGRAM AND ITS DELIVERY
Anyone who visits the campus recognizes immediately that the UHWO faculty are well-qualified, hard-working, and dedicated to the education and success of their students. There is no question about their work ethic or the value of their work to then-students. At the same time, one recognizes that the faculty have nearly reached the limits of their ability to serve their students well.
UHWO is committed to providing "access for non-traditional students to high quality upper division programs in the liberal arts and professional studies." The campus continues to push at the edge of its capacity to deliver its inventory of academic programs, a situation that [except in the facilities area] has not improved greatly since the last WASC visit. The campus is now serving over 800 students with four upper-division degree programs, thirteen different specialization areas, and three certificate programs. The business degree (BABA) and the special thematic version of the social science degree (BASS) are offered through distance learning technologies exclusively for students on the neighboring islands. This programmatic inventory represents a slight increase over the curricular array that the campus was offering to 650 students at the time of the last WASC visit.
To deliver its programs, UHWO utilizes 25 full-time instructional faculty, 6.5 academic specialists [including the 1.5 librarians], and approximately 30 lecturers. During the last visit, UHWO had 22 full-time instructional faculty serving fewer students with a slightly smaller curriculum uncomplicated by the addition of on-line delivery. Furthermore, the faculty are not evenly distributed across the programs. There are seven areas of specialization that have only one faculty member specifically trained in the discipline. A program with one faculty member cannot provide a range of expertise or diversity of views for students, and the lone faculty member suffers from academic isolation and a lack of intellectual stimulation from disciplinary colleagues.
An analysis of the schedule of classes for a two-year period ending in the Spring of 2002 indicates that the institution was able to deliver at least all of the required courses in all the specializations, but with very little redundancy or luxury of choice. Many courses are cross-listed so as to meet requirements for two or more degrees. A substantial number of courses listed in the instance, 13 of 40 BUSAD courses; 10 of 19 ECON courses; and 22 of 55 PUAD courses). Some areas were served more fulsomely. Psychology, for example, offered 35 of the 37 courses listed; but this is a major exception. Most of the full-time faculty taught at least six classes per year (some taught overloads), many requiring six different preparations and teaching across a very broad range, sometimes outside of their disciplines. Up to 40% of the courses were taught by seemingly well-qualified adjunct faculty; and there is some continuity from year to year. However, the addition of any programs, significant numbers of students, or a broader mission would, without the addition of new faculty, push the academic infrastructure beyond the limits set by the goal of providing quality academic programs.
The programs delivered to the neighbor islands give some insight into how a modest catalog for most disciplines were not offered (or were cancelled) in the two years (for increase in programmatic scope can impact the UHWO academic infrastructure. For many years, UHWO has offered the Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration [BABA] to students on the neighbor islands. To increase its contribution to meeting the needs of students for whom access to higher education is difficult, UHWO recently added an "applied" track of the Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences [BASS], with thematic specializations different from the disciplinary-based specializations offered to on-campus students. The university system has set-up "University Centers" on the neighbor islands where students can find video receive sites [via the Hawaii Interactive Television System-HITS], other necessary technology, and some student support services.
UHWO's participation in this neighbor island program has required the development of additional technologically-delivered courses, the expansion of on-line student services, and the development of on-line tutoring. It also means that more faculty must add diversity of delivery methods to the existing burden of teaching many different courses annually. In addition, someone had to take on the responsibility for overseeing the programs and ensuring that courses are delivered as needed. Recently, this overburdened faculty member asked to be relieved of this responsibility and no replacement has been appointed [though a technical support person was hired to assume a number of the duties].
The faculty at UHWO are truly dedicated to meeting the needs of under-served students and, in the case of the BASS, moved to fill a perceived need; but in doing so, they added more stress to a fragile infrastructure. This example demonstrates the results of the lack of an academic plan for the programmatic development of the campus within the limits of mission, scope, and resources. Various faculty mentioned programs that were in the works; but the team found no evidence that these programs were a part of a detailed academic plan mapping the future academic development of the institution either as a two- or four-year campus. The team also recognized that the demands on the UHWO chancellor to represent his campus with the university system, the higher education community, and the local community did not leave him sufficient time to work with the faculty to develop, implement, and monitor an academic plan. Faculty also noted this as a problem. The naming of a chief academic officer with respected faculty credentials might provide an answer in this regard.
It is the opinion of the team that UHWO currently has the capacity to deliver its academic programs, but that its capacity is severely stressed and will not withstand increases in demands on the academic infrastructure-e.g., new programs, more students, increased scope of operation. In fact, the institution needs more tenure-line faculty now, regardless of future developments, simply to meet its present commitments, and should not attempt to increase its academic scope or obligations without additional resources. The institution must make reasoned strategic choices in order to operate within its resources. This relates to the team recommendation stated previously in regard to the development of a comprehensive academic plan to guide its immediate and long-term academic choices.
PROGRAM REVIEW AND ASSESSMENT
UHWO has devoted considerable effort to defining both university-wide learning objectives and objectives for its four degree programs. At the university level, agreed-upon objectives include: written and oral communication, qualitative and quantitative reasoning, research skills, cultural awareness, and creativity. The university has undertaken a "mapping" project to determine where in the curriculum these objectives are being addressed; and it has engaged in pre/post-testing of student writing, statistics, and critical thinking in various courses. Additionally, students are required to complete either a capstone project or a capstone practicum in which their attainment of a number of the objectives is assessed. The focus for the past three years has been on written communication, qualitative and quantitative reasoning, and research skill development. A rubric has been developed to assess student achievement in these areas, and three sets of outside evaluators have been brought in over the three years to review and evaluate senior papers using this rubric. Unfortunately, there has, to date, been no success in ensuring inter-rater reliability. Additionally, the rubric is not used by UHWO faculty themselves in assessing the work of their students. Furthermore, the students themselves are not aware of the existence of the rubric, as it is not used to provide them feedback regarding the competencies they have attained.
Nevertheless, through the use of the external evaluators, large amounts of data have been collected, aggregated, and analyzed, though the institution has not quite figured out what to do with the results. The next logical step is, of course, to bring the results to the faculty for review and reflection and for there to be a determination regarding necessary program changes to deal with student deficiencies identified. This clearly must occur before the Educational Effectiveness visit. In fact, a faculty retreat was scheduled for a week after the Preparatory visit, with the goal of seeing how the faculty could use the data from the external evaluations to improve the quality and consistency of the capstone experience.
In addition to the above, the campus will now need to turn its attention to the other three learning objectives and develop a plan of action for assessing their attainment. One might expect significant progress in assessing at least one of these remaining objectives before the next WASC visit.
Having devoted significant attention to student attainment of "generic skills"-a laudable effort-much less attention has been devoted to student attainment of learning objectives in the four degree areas: business administration, public administration, humanities, and social science, and in the various on-campus and off-campus areas of specialization, e.g., economics, political science, human development, and health and healing. In fact, specific learning objectives in the specialization areas do not appear to have been identified as yet. It will thus be necessary for the faculty in the various disciplinary and interdisciplinary areas to focus attention on determination of learning objectives in these areas and to develop and implement strategies for evaluating their attainment. The WASC team would expect significant progress in this regard on its next visit.
The most logical context for assessing learning outcomes in the four degree programs [and the areas of specialization within them] is that of academic program review. Such program review-a comprehensive endeavor of quality control engaged in on a cyclical basis-would normally include a review of the quality and currency of the curriculum; the adequacy and expertise of the faculty; the demographics and levels of satisfaction of the students; the availability of necessary resources and support services; and the assessment of the learning which has taken place. Typically an institution's program review structure would include an articulated and faculty-approved policy; a set of "how-to-do-it" guidelines for its implementation; a reflective programmatic self-study; a validation of that self-study by external experts in the field; an agreed-upon set of recommendations for program improvement; and a memorandum of understanding embodying agreements on actions to be undertaken.
The University of Hawaii system has a basic policy requiring programs to be reviewed on a cyclical basis every seven years. That policy provides "bare-bones" guidelines which, of necessity, must be fleshed-out by the campus to meet its own needs and desires for quality control. This has not yet occurred at UHWO. Other than the system mandate and guidelines, last employed by the campus in 1997, there is no process for cyclical academic program review in place. It is thus expected that, by the time of the Educational Effectiveness visit, the university will have the following:
- An agreed-upon campus program review policy
- A set of campus procedural guidelines for the review of all of its major programs, including both those on-campus and those on-line
- A program-by-program timeline for undertaking and completing review of each program
- Plans for assessing student learning in each program
- At least one program through an entire review process, including a completed assessment endeavor with identified results
UHWO is to be commended for its serious commitment to determining the effectiveness of its educational endeavors. The work done on assessing student performance in capstone projects and practicums is an excellent beginning; but more is yet to be done, especially in the area of academic program review.
The university has established an Office of Assessment and Institutional Research to provide support to the campus in developing and implementing assessment strategies and in data collection, aggregation, analysis, and dissemination to support institutional decision-making. Unfortunately, the staffing of the office is a serious problem, as the office's director is an instructional faculty member who has been given only a one-course reduction; and there is no data analyst. As a result, necessary studies of such things as retention, time to degree, and percentages of students graduating are not being undertaken.
If the campus is to become "data-driven" in its decision-making and in its attempts to demonstrate institutional performance, the data must be available, accessible, and reliable [this last is sometimes a concern with data received from the system]. Meeting the data needs of the campus will require the services of an expanded Office of Assessment and Institutional Research.
The campus also suffers as a result of system reporting practices which appear to disadvantage interdisciplinary programs with multiple specializations. The campus is required to report its program enrollments by discipline, e.g., economics. The present reporting system apparently does not permit the "double-counting" of the number of UHWO students who choose two specializations, e.g., economics and political science, within one interdisciplinary degree, e.g., social science.
UHWO has a well-structured set of support services to provide needy students with appropriate learning assistance. The institution has a Writing and Learning Center where students [both on- and off-campus] can receive tutorial help in writing, accounting, economics, and statistics. The center is proactive in reaching out to students to encourage them to make use of its services and to faculty to encourage them to identify students in need.
The director of the UHWO Writing Program administers the university's mandatory junior-level writing exam; and students are encouraged to take the exam either before or during first-semester enrollment. Unfortunately, there is no campus policy mandating when the exam must be taken. However, since the exam determines whether students need to take three instead of four writing-intensive courses [including the capstone course] before graduation, most students make a point of taking the exam early.
The university's library is housed within the larger Leeward Community College library. The library is technologically-sophisticated, providing students [both on- and off-campus] with the opportunity to search all UHWO, LCC, and UH system databases, and to receive journal articles electronically and books physically, wherever they are on the various Hawaiian islands. There is a seamless interrelationship between the UHWO and LCC libraries such that the distinction between the two in terms of access and use is invisible to either the UHWO or the LCC student.
Students also have access to a UHWO computer lab with 18 computers and a support staff to meet their needs for computer assistance. This staff also provides support to faculty in developing their course-related web sites and their web-based on-line courses.
The university's Student Services area appears to be well-organized and user-friendly. Students are all assigned an advisor at the time of admission. The advisors in Student Services handle transfer credit, degree progress, and degree audit. The faculty do the advising for the major, though there is no mandatory advising policy and there does appear to be some inconsistency in advising. The Student Services advisors see themselves as working in partnership with the faculty. Financial aid is not as much a factor here as one would think. Many students are older working adults and not the traditional financial aid-seeking students. Approximately 24% of UHWO students receive some sort of financial aid or tuition waiver.
With regard to the services that this small campus cannot provide, like a health center or personal growth and counseling, the Student Services office does some referrals; and the students can also access Leeward Community College's health office. With regard to outreach and recruitment, the outreach staff priority is to facilitate seamless transfer. They visit all University of Hawaii community college campuses at least once a semester. They also attend college fairs on the other islands. They reach out to the community in areas of workforce development. They maintain a good working relationship with all counselors in the system. Everybody in Student Services wears multiple hats. There is an IT person on staff who is developing new skills in order to assist in data gathering and reporting. On top of everything else, the office is working to implement the new Banner student information system and clearly could use more personnel.
COORDINATION WITH LEEWARD COMMUNITY COLLEGE
The previous WASC site visit team noted that there was a lack of coordination between UHWO and Leeward Community College, a surprising development considering that the two institutions are co-located and UHWO is an upper division-only campus. In the interim between visits, cooperation has increased in a number of areas. For example, the UHWO and LCC libraries, while physically separated in the LCC facility, have nevertheless built the seamless user interface referenced earlier. The two institutions also received an NEH grant that supported a joint nine-credit-hour learning community focused on "The Fundamental Values of a Good Community" taught collaboratively by three faculty from each institution. This was viewed as a successful collaboration for students and faculty alike but was, unfortunately, discontinued for lack of human and fiscal resources.
The present WASC team did not feel that collaboration between the institutions had progressed as much as it might, given the proximity of the institutions, the fact that they are parts of the same system, and the contribution such a partnership could make to the persistence and retention of non-traditional students. The team met with representatives of UHWO and LCC to discuss the opportunities for and challenges to collaboration between the institutions. There was general agreement that new leadership and structural changes in the UH system were creating an environment more conducive to university/community college cooperation and that the implementation of the new student information system would support arrangements such as co-enrollment better than the existing system. Recent advances in course-by-course and General Education articulation agreements also serve to promote collaboration. The group also recognized that its small size and greater flexibility positioned UHWO to be the system leader in developing creative partnerships with LCC and other system community colleges.
Among the remaining impediments to the development of partnerships are, first of all, the cultural clashes, misunderstandings, and mutual suspicion that are common at the beginning of any university/community college interactions. The successful UHWO/LCC collaboration in the learning community experiment demonstrates that these obstacles can readily be overcome, at least in focused cases. But it also emerged that some UHWO faculty have a special disincentive to building close ties with LCC. The last site visit report mentioned the on-again-off-again plan for UHWO to become a "four-year" campus. The uncertainty about this plan has frozen academic planning and created in the faculty a kind of paralyzing cynicism about the value of planning. In this particular case, a number of UHWO faculty fear that developing close cooperation with LCC will bring to an end the tantalizing dream of becoming a freestanding, four-year institution with its own campus. Rather, it might result in a fusion of UHWO with LCC at the current site and the loss of UHWO's mission and sense of identity. This is another instance where long-standing system ambiguity about the future of UHWO has impeded planning and action that will benefit students.
The team recommends that, despite ambiguity about the future of the campus, UHWO move forward to develop strong ties with all system community colleges and a special relationship with LCC that allows the two institutions to simulate, at the current site, a coherent experience of a full baccalaureate education. Recent studies have shown that such "seamless" articulation arrangements that blur the point of transfer help to keep non-traditional students on-track to complete their baccalaureate degrees. UHWO and LCC should study successful partnerships, where universities and community colleges are co-located or share facilities, and attempt to devise a model that will work well under current local conditions and will continue to serve students well even as UHWO becomes a free-standing, four-year campus. The UH system should give UHWO and LCC the freedom and support they need to collaborate successfully and to provide leadership in this area to the system.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The University of Hawaii - West Oahu serves a very important role for the population of the West and North of the island. UHWO demonstrates that a university is not about bricks and mortar but about heart and soul. The faculty demonstrate their commitment to their students every day. The students recognize this commitment and share their appreciation openly. They report that faculty and staff truly care and demonstrate it through their availability and willingness to work with students anytime anywhere. Students expressed this appreciation both on campus and on other islands. This commitment to serving students is worthy of commendation.
The university drafted its essay and structured its portfolio around two themes: access for non-traditional students and quality education. Providing access to UHWO for non-traditional students is clearly being addressed. Students who might otherwise not have access or opportunity for higher education are being recruited aggressively. Enrollment has increased over the past two years; and students from other islands are represented in larger numbers than ever before. Students who are receiving their education via distributed and mediated instruction express their gratitude for the opportunity and for the quality of the experience they are having.
The faculty have worked very hard at establishing criteria for determining the quality of their educational endeavors. The identification of university-wide learning objectives and a plan to assess them is moving forward. Assessment strategies have been developed for writing, quantitative and qualitative reasoning, and research skills. The capstone rubric for external evaluators is another example of progress. The retreat planned for the faculty to analyze the data that have been collected and to use these data to make improvements is another example of faculty commitment to institutional learning and educational effectiveness.
In addition to the work accomplished in regard to access and quality, the university should be commended in other important areas:
- The structures that have been put in place to ensure that students have access to information resources are working extremely well. The library, the partnership with Leeward's library, the wireless technology, and the mediated classrooms serve students both at West O'ahu and off-campus well.
- Tutoring services in the Writing and Learning Center are to be commended for their aggressive and pro-active efforts to provide academic support services for students. These tutorial programs serve students both on-campus and on-line.
- The dramatic improvement in the facilities overall since the last visit must be noted. The facilities are much improved and much more suited to meet the needs of UHWO students. The intimate setting is comfortable and welcoming.
- The Student Services office and the Student Services staff are welcoming, user-friendly, and well-organized.
Nevertheless, there is still much work to do to prepare for the next WASC visit on Educational Effectiveness. There are significant challenges yet to be met:
- After some detailed analysis of data on numbers of faculty, students, and sections, the team determined that the faculty complement is just barely adequate to serve the current student population. The capacity of the institution is fragile in this regard and this needs to be taken into account in any future planning. It is inconceivable that any new degree programs or areas of specialization can be initiated without new faculty positions. In fact/ new tenure-line positions are needed now and must be sought and secured.
- The University of Hawaii system needs to rethink how it budgets for the campuses. Chancellors need more predictable information for planning. They also need more authority for decision-making. Rather than having to request faculty or staff positions, they should receive a general allocation and then make their own decisions internally based on system and campus planning parameters. Then each campus can be held accountable by the system office for the expenditure of funds.
- In line with recommendation #2 above, both the system and the campus need a financial reporting system based on accurate and transparent budget spreadsheets depicting all revenues and expenditures. It is essential that the campus-with appropriate support from the system-be able to demonstrate with confidence and clarity to WASC that financial records are well kept.
- UHWO needs an academic plan that defines its academic model; how to support it; (information resources, technology, academic support services, etc.); how to assess it; how to build it. In this regard, the academic plan would be the vehicle for planning a four-year program. This planning process would be greatly facilitated by the identification of a chief academic officer with respected faculty credentials who could devote full time to this work.
- Institutional research is a serious gap. The university has a significant need for regular, accurate, and timely data to support planning, decision-making, and assessment. IR capacity is even more important now in the new UH system organization, where the campus will need someone who can interact with the system to ensure that it is represented appropriately and that it gets what is needed from the system. More importantly, use of data to become a learning organization-in the WASC sense of the term-is extremely important in the educational effectiveness context.
- Related to IR is the need for academic program review. This is an area that must be addressed immediately. The UH system program audit was last carried out in 1997. The system program audit policy is insufficient for the purposes of an educational effectiveness presentation. A process of meaningful comprehensive review of the institution's degree programs [and related areas of specialization] that includes self-study, external review, elements of quality assurance, assessment of student learning, and plans for continuous improvement needs to be developed and implemented. All degree programs, on-campus and on-line, need to be reviewed on a regular calendar. Prior to the educational effectiveness visit, UHWO is advised that the campus needs to have:
- A fully developed campus policy for program review approved by the faculty
- Guidelines and procedures for the implementation of this policy
- A program-by-program calendar of review [meaning that not all programs have to be reviewed at once]
- Plans for assessing student learning in each program
- At least one program fully reviewed, including a completed assessment endeavor with identified results.
- Regarding the university's seven generic learning objectives, the campus must "close the loop" in utilizing assessment results already obtained to make necessary program improvements. Additionally, it must turn its attention to developing, establishing a timeline for, and implementing strategies to assess student performance in the areas of oral communication, cultural awareness, and creativity.
The team thanks the campus for its hospitality, its openness, and its willingness to share its thoughts, concerns, and aspirations. The university is commended for how far it has come and for all its accomplishments. UHWO students tell the story best and honored the team by allowing it to hear what the institution has meant to them. The faculty, staff, and administration can be proud of what has been accomplished while not losing momentum for the work still to be done.