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Feb. 16, 2011

Remarks to the UH Manoa Faculty Congress

Aloha kakou.

First, I want to thank you, the faculty of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, and Chancellor Hinshaw for the work that you do and for the opportunity to speak with you today. Without you, UH Manoa would not be the premier institution that it is. Through your efforts, our university continues to deliver the classes our students need, attracts and receives extramural funding—more than 450 million dollars last year—and continues to grow in national stature.

This campus is a tremendous intellectual and cultural resource for our state in the arts and humanities, social sciences and public service, as well as in research, innovation and professional training. Thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do, to make UH Manoa an institution that we can all be proud of and one that continues to serve the needs of the state of Hawai‘i.

Faculty are the lifeblood of higher education institutions. You are crucial to our efforts in developing and disseminating knowledge and training our workforce to ensure Hawai‘i’s educational and economic success in this rapidly changing global environment. And, by working collaboratively with your colleagues at our other nine campuses, you have helped to make the UH System an extraordinary asset for our island state and one that is unlike any other in the nation in its ability to meet the full range of higher education needs in our communities.

Our system of 10 campuses provides us with a distinct advantage to explore and build innovative partnerships to accomplish together what we would not be able to achieve separately. Our goal is to build on the strengths and opportunities we have in Hawai‘i to make UH the best performing system of higher education in the country, with this, our flagship research university, leading the way.

The University of Hawai‘i System has welcomed a record number of students this year. More than 60,000 students enrolled at our campuses last fall, and we’re experiencing the highest spring enrollment level ever this semester. While much of the enrollment growth has been in the community colleges, Manoa is critical to meeting the needs of this growing student population as they move through our system, many of them seeking to continue their education at the baccalaureate level and beyond. I appreciate your commitment to ensuring our students’ needs are addressed despite the challenges we have faced.

Biggest among these challenges has obviously been our budget situation. The university’s general fund budget was reduced by $98 million in FY 2010 and $107.3 million in FY 2011 from FY 2009 levels. This is a 23 percent reduction in the university’s general fund budget from 2009 levels. This level of reduction in funding is one of the largest in the nation among public universities.

We have been able to manage these reductions through a variety of means, which included the cooperation of the faculty to agree to temporary salary reductions. Your sacrifice has not gone unnoticed. As agreed, notwithstanding the continuing austere economic conditions we face, I am committed to the “snap back” of faculty salaries.

Additionally, the increase in tuition and fee revenue gained from the record enrollment numbers ($30 million increase in FY 2010 and $25 million projected increase in FY 2011) has helped to offset our budget reduction.

I’d like to especially thank you, our faculty, for the resilience and commitment you have displayed during this time and your efforts to make sure our students’ needs are met despite these challenges. All of our faculty, staff and executives systemwide took wage cuts. I know that these cuts not only affect you, but your families as well. I know the sacrifices you’ve all had to make and I appreciate your patience and cooperation.

As Iam sure you’ve heard, there are currently bills under consideration in both the state Senate and House that propose to reverse the university’s financial flexibility by repealing all of the university’s special and revolving funds. Chancellor Hinshaw and I have assertively advocated through public testimony and private conversations to ensure that lawmakers know how devastating this would be to the university’s operations. I thank you all for your support of this effort and urge you to stay vigilant and lend your support when it’s needed to preserve the university’s funding and flexibility.

I have met with Gov. Abercrombie and key members of his senior staff on numerous occasions. I have also met and continue to meet with many of our legislative leaders. I will continue to do so to make sure they know and understand what the university’s needs are.

We have grounded our budget proposal for the new fiscal biennium upon previously developed strategic outcomes, and specifically upon the three initiatives I presented last February in my address to a joint session of the legislature: (1) increasing the number of college graduates by 25 percent by 2015; (2) contributing to Hawai‘i’s overall economic future through research, innovation and technology transfer; and (3) ensuring our campuses and facilities reflect our mission as a 21st-century university built on excellence.

The goal of the Hawai‘i Graduation Initiative is to increase the number of college graduates by 25 percent by the year 2015. The University of Hawai‘i is involved in a number of national efforts that have laid the foundation for this initiative.

The Hawai‘i Graduation Initiative is focused on increasing student participation and completion, particularly for Native Hawaiian Students, low-income students and those from underserved regions. We are accomplishing this through a number of means and much of it thanks to the dedication and commitment of our faculty.

For example, in cooperation with the community colleges, Chancellor Hinshaw has collaborated on the automatic admission procedures implemented last year. This procedure allows seamless admission for graduates from any one of our seven community colleges to our three baccalaureate campuses, without applying and without paying an application fee.

Our new “15 to Finish” initiative encourages students at our four-year campuses to enroll full-time. Students who take 15 credits will only have to pay for 12 credits. Take 15, pay for 12, finish in 4—that’s our new mantra to students, and we think it is a great incentive to push them forward.

We recognize that there are financial barriers to pursuing and completing a degree for many of our students. We have made great strides in helping our students receive the aid for which they are eligible and we have quadrupled our financial aid reserves for Hawai‘i residents.

We want to provide a transformational education for our students, and we also want to transform the way the University of Hawai‘i does business here in the state. With your support and cooperation, we can help make this change a reality.

Our second objective is focused on workforce development and technology innovation. The university adds money, jobs and talented people to the state’s economy. UH faculty generated more than $450 million in outside funding during the 2009–2010 academic year, and more than 70 percent of that is in jobs.

A report by The Chronicle of Higher Education noted that UH was one of five universities that received more federal research dollars than 19 Association of American University members. This is a clear indicator that the faculty at Manoa can be competitive and win research dollars.

Our goal is to create a 21st-century capacity for workforce development, innovation and technology exchange that is necessary to achieve a high-value economy in Hawai‘i. As you can see, we are already well on our way to doing this, but we know we can do even more.

To help address the need to grow and diversify our economy, I appointed an Advisory Council on Hawai‘i Innovation and Technology Advancement last year that included Chancellor Hinshaw. This group of nationally recognized experts from academia and industry are helping us chart a new course to enhance the success and impact of our research programs for Hawai‘i’s economy.

National and community leaders met in Honolulu last month for E Kamakani Noi‘i (the wind that seeks knowledge). The symposium, co-sponsored by UH and the National Academies of Sciences, focused on the growth of Hawai‘i’s innovation ecosystem. In addition to the nationally renowned speakers, representatives from federal and state agencies, other distinguished guests made time to attend. These included Senators Inouye and Akaka, Congresswomen Hirono and Hanabusa and Gov. Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Schatz.

At the symposium, which was an overwhelming success attended by more than 340 people, the Advisory Council on Hawai‘i Innovation and Technology Advancement released its draft report for public input and review. The report is the result of eight months of intensive collaboration between leaders in business, government and education.

The report includes four recommendations for the University of Hawai‘i to create an innovation economy for the state.

We are talking about teaching people how to innovate in businesses that are already here, make them more successful, to create ways of building on capital, creating jobs and making a better place for our residents.

You can view the advisory council report and its recommendations online.

It is clear that that our third objective is critical to the success of our first two. We can’t increase the state’s educational capital or contribute our full potential to an innovation economy if we don’t renew and expand the university’s infrastructure.

You, our faculty, our students and the state of Hawai‘i, deserve a 21st-century university with excellent facilities. This is the driving force behind our third objective, Project Renovate to Innovate.

The Legislature provided $20 million in funding for this initiative during the last session, which is a solid start. We are proud to say the return on this investment is quickly being realized.

Just last month, we launched construction of a new $7.5-million center at the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene that will serve as a campus hub for health science research and clinical simulation. The center will enhance collaboration with several schools and colleges across the campus and with the College of Pharmacy at UH Hilo via distance programming.

Other exciting projects here at Manoa include the Campus Center renovation and addition, student housing renovations and a new information technology center for the system that will be built on this campus.

Investing in campus repairs, maintenance and construction has the added benefit of generating jobs for the state. The university’s contribution to Hawai‘i’s construction industry via projects and upcoming repairs and maintenance efforts at our campuses statewide total $586 million.

Private support has been and will continue to be an essential component to our success in achieving these goals. The UH Foundation successfully completed the Centennial Campaign in 2009, which raised $336 million for the university.

We are in the planning stages for a new seven-year campaign that will commence on July 1, 2011. There are numerous activities currently underway to prepare for the new campaign, and I encourage you to get involved. We anticipate the new campaign will have the potential to raise over $400 million for the University of Hawai‘i.

The university and the state are well positioned to be a leader nationally and particularly in the Asia Pacific region. We are a premier state and the best to look at a number of issues that reflect the diversity of the Asia Pacific region. That’s why it is so fitting that we will serve as the host for the 2011 APEC Summit. This will be one of the greatest opportunities for our state and the University of Hawai‘i.

I am honored to represent the university and serve as a member of the Hawai‘i Host Committee. The University of Hawai‘i has official responsibility for the volunteer effort during Leaders Week in November. I anticipate that the special expertise and interest of faculty members will be called upon, and I hope that you will respond accordingly to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I have also put together an APEC Strategic Team, which includes a representative from each campus. The purpose of this team is to coordinate the University of Hawai‘i’s support efforts, facilitate the networking and sharing of information about APEC throughout the community, and reinforce the fact that the university is an invaluable source of knowledge and resources.

Together we have accomplished much with respect to addressing the needs of an expanding enrollment—changing demands for higher education services, seeking and receiving extramural funding at an unprecedented level and looking to the future in identifying where the University of Hawai‘i needs to focus its attention. At the outset of my remarks, I thanked you, the faculty, for your efforts, cooperation and support. I close with the idea that it will take investment by all of us. It will take partnerships. It will take all of us working together to help the University of Hawai‘i move into the future.