ACCJC Reviews UH Progress Report and Team Visit Report on Community College ReorganizationUniversity of Hawaiʻi
Kristen Bonilla, (808) 956-5039
External Affairs & University Relations
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) at its meeting held in early June reviewed a progress report submitted by the University of Hawaiʻi and the ACCJC team report from its special visit to the university in April 2004.
In spring 2003, the ACCJC gave conditional approval to a substantive change request made by the University of Hawaiʻi regarding its plan to reorganize the community colleges by eliminating the Chancellor‘s Office and creating a reporting structure from each college directly to the UH president. The change was proposed as part of the reorganization of the UH system and the President‘s Office approved by the UH Board of Regents (BOR) in December 2002.
This recent team visit report is the latest in a series of reports stemming from a process requested by the ACCJC. The commission‘s conditional approval of the university‘s substantive change request was granted with the understanding that progress reports would be submitted to ACCJC in August and November 2003, and in April 2004. The November and April reports would be followed by a team visit by ACCJC to validate these reports.
As such, the April 2004 visit by ACCJC Executive Director Barbara Beno was to evaluate the university‘s progress on several recommendations made by ACCJC from its previous visit. These recommendations related to staffing and funding for the new UH system structure created by the reorganization, effective delegation of responsibility and authority through this new structure to the individual campuses, and the development of certain policies and procedures.
While recognizing that work to address some of these issues continues to take place, the ACCJC team found that the university had made "substantial progress in stabilizing its administrative structure" and that "the revised structure appears to be working quite successfully to achieve one of the major goals of reorganization—creating a more seamless educational experience for students attending the University of Hawaiʻi institutions."
"The university is grateful for the continued support and guidance of the ACCJC, and I would like to personally thank the commission for its recognition of the university‘s efforts and the progress made to create a more unified university system for Hawaiʻi," said UH Acting President David McClain. "We continue to make adjustments and improvements to our new structure and I‘d like to reaffirm our commitment to the continued success of the community colleges while staying true to their unique mission and service."
In addition, the ACCJC previously brought forth its concern following a visit in November 2003 with the governance by the BOR, specifically recommending that the BOR "review its responsibilities to serve as a policy making board and to assume its role in evaluating the University President." Along with this recommendation, the ACCJC suggested the BOR should focus on developing policy and leave the implementation of such policies and operational decision-making to the administration.
In its recent report, the ACCJC acknowledged the troubled relationship between the BOR and the president as disadvantageous to the university, but recognized the Board‘s hiring of an outside consultant to help them conduct the president‘s evaluation as a step that "certainly denotes positive action on the part of the Board to address this recommendation."
The report found that the BOR needed to devote additional attention to addressing its second recommendation regarding institutional governance. It suggested that the BOR should "seek training that will further enhance its own ability to carry out its critical functions in exemplary manner that will allow it to meet ACCJC standards of accreditation and to serve the University well."
"The Board of Regents appreciates the guidance of the ACCJC and takes seriously the recommendations made by the commission," said UH BOR Chairperson Patricia Lee. "The Board has already been in discussion with Acting President David McClain regarding its strong desire to return a significant number of management responsibilities to the UH administration. We are certain that our continued diligence will meet the commission‘s standards."
In its action letter, the ACCJC requested that the university submit a progress report by November 1, 2004, that details further progress made on the recommendations of the visiting team contained in the April 2004 team report.
The ACCJC team report and related documents are available online at www.hawaii.edu/vpaa.
For more information, visit: http://www.hawaii.edu/vpaa