University of Hawaii System Receives Recommendations on its Reorganization Plans from WASC

WASC review of UH system is first-ever visit of an accrediting organization to a university system office

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Jul 16, 2003

HONOLULU — The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), at the request of UH President Evan S. Dobelle, conducted a special review of the University of Hawaiʻi system and the President‘s Office, and recently informed the university of its opinions and recommendations regarding the system reorganization and the changing of a status quo bureaucracy.

The Spring 2003 visit by a team of peer university members was suggested to WASC by Dobelle in an effort to provide a context for WASC visits to UH campuses including UH Mānoa, UH Hilo and UH West Oʻahu. A reorganization plan for the university system approved by the UH Board of Regents (BOR) in December 2002 included the creation of new system offices and a Council of Chancellors. It was designed to create a seamless university system and allow for the implementation of a strategic plan that will transform the university. It was a direction adopted by the BOR in early 2001 for whomever the new president was to be.

In its review of the system, the WASC team found promise in the reorganization model and noted that the new system-wide structures are "important new undertakings that have great potential for communication, the sharing of good practices, and policy development." It also recognized the strategic planning efforts of the university system as an effective and particularly inclusive effort of constituencies both in and outside the University.

"I requested this report to provide us with the knowledge and expertise to challenge the status quo that UH has operated under in past administrations. I greatly appreciate the recommendations of WASC through this first-ever system level review," said Dobelle. "WASC‘s validation of the principles behind the system reorganization provides significant outside confirmation of our efforts to reform the bureaucratic processes that have plagued the university, and move forward in developing a true system-wide organization." The review team and the WASC Commission did confirm several items of concern for which further action taken by the university was requested, though processes addressing many of the issues raised have already been put in place. Most of these were identified in the first few months of the new administration in separate reports authored by consultants Linda Campanella, Peter Goldstein and Christopher Small at Dobelle‘s request. In addition, the WASC report emphasized a need for further development in defining roles as well as clearer communication at the campus levels regarding new positions and policies brought on by the system reorganization.

With the BORs‘ recent approval of the appointments of Sam Callejo as Chief of Staff (Chief Operations Officer) and David McClain as Vice President for Academic Affairs (Chief Academic Officer), two key individuals are in place as the university moves forward in implementing the system reorganization while also addressing the WASC concerns raised. Also, a senior staff task force on reorganization implementation was convened by Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Deane Neubauer and a report was submitted in early June with recommendations already underway. In addition to the Council of Chancellors, appropriate representatives from all campuses meet regularly as part of the Council of Chief Academic Officers and the Council of Financial Officers in an effort to improve communication and policy development in these areas.

The commission also noted a need for an improved"partnership" with the BOR in light of recent significant changes in board membership (as of July 1, 2003, only 2 of the original 12 BOR members who hired Dobelle remained on the board) to ensure the board understands the changes underway, which will be addressed through extensive orientations currently being coordinated and developed for new board members. Other concerns related to budgeting and resource allocation, though the commission did note that it recognizes financial constraints caused by the availability and allocation of resources by the State. A renewed institutional focus on budgeting and resource allocation issues has been underway over the past few months with a review of the university‘s financial accounting system, a system that has been in place for over 25 years and in great need of reform and replacement, just completed. With these recommendations, the WASC Commission requested a follow-up visit to be scheduled for spring 2004.

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