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E Kamakani Hou higher education summit

Linda Johnsrud on Raising Hawai‘i’s Competitive Edge

University of Hawai‘i System Vice President for Academic Planning and Policy Linda Johnsrud provided an overview of data-driven, inclusive planning over the past five years that frames the university’s agenda.

Watch the video of her presentation below.

Summarized hightlights: Raising Hawai‘i’s Competitive Edge

A unique strength of public higher education in Hawai‘i is that students can enter at any of 10 campuses or 16 education centers and move easily between two- and four-year campuses, Johnsrud said.

“We have identified what the state of Hawai‘i’s needs from public higher education, and campus and system leaders work together to ensure that campuses have the resources they need to deliver what the state needs, and to work more efficiently and effectively across the system,” she added.

UH’s Second Decade geographic analysis showed that Wai‘anae and ‘Ewa have the most urgent need for increased postsecondary education and training, followed by the west side of the Big Island—regions that are also home to underserved populations, particularly Native Hawaiian and low income groups.

bar chart of educational attainment

Educational attainment of young adults is surpassing that of their parents in other developed nations while it is falling in the United States. In Hawai‘i, falling attainment levels are even more pronounced.

The rate of Hawai‘i high school graduates who attend a UH campus was about 38.6 percent last year, and Hawai‘i’s total “going rate,” including private and mainland schools, is about 60 percent. “This is about the national average, but below where we need to be. And because students who leave Hawai‘i often do not return after college, the work force is affected,” she said.

Looking at the educational pipeline, for every 100 ninth graders in Hawai‘i, 68 graduate from high school on time, 40 enter college, 24 continue as sophomores and 12 graduate on time (within six years for bachelor’s degrees or three years for associate’s). In addition, the number of associate and bachelor’s degree holders entering the state doesn’t exceed the number leaving the state by much, contributing to a short supply of educated employees, particularly in teaching, nursing, hospitality, engineering, information technology, social work and medicine.

bar chart of student success

Based on this analysis and vetting with the community, UH’s agenda for public higher education calls for increasing the number of educated citizens in the state, addressing underserved populations and regions, expanding workforce development, helping diversify the economy and renewing and expanding the university’s infrastructure to support those activities, Johnsrud said.

UH President M.R.C. Greenwood’s Graduation Initiative, announced in February 2010, charges the university with increasing the number of graduates 25 percent over 2008 numbers by 2015, awarding 10,500 degrees and certificates in 2015. This is aligned with President Obama’s goals andin keeping with Complete College America, an alliance of 23 states targeted at increasing college completion. A top priority is positioning UH as one of the world’s foremost indigenous serving universities. Efforts to help accomplish this goal include Achieving the Dream at the community colleges, Na Pua No‘eau Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Children at UH Hilo and the Native Hawaiian Science and Engineering Mentorship Program at UH Manoa, which has achieved a 70 percent retention rate for indigenous Americans compared to the national average of 27 percent.

Another strategic outcome measure is to increase the number of students receiving federal Pell grants. This plus increased institutional aid (which reached $27.8 million last year) increases access. Readiness is improved through partnerships with programs like Gear Up Hawai‘i, which is aimed at middle schoolers, and the Step Up campaign, which challenges high schoolers to pursue a rigorous curricuum.

line graph of extramural funds

Another Greenwood initiative, innovation and technology transfer, is aligned with the university’s strategic outcome measure of increasing extramural funding (which grew from $180 million in 2000 to 450 million today) and increasing the number of patents, disclosures and licenses to help transfer UH developed technologies into the marketplace, Johnsrud said. To fill these jobs, the university will increase the number of graduates in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) by 3–6 percent per year, to 2,190 in 2015.

Supporting this effort are new programs, including a systemwide nursing consortium, new degrees at Windward Community Colege, Hilo’s pharmacy college, an ethnomathematic project at UH West O‘ahu, photonics program at then three neighbor island community colleges and a pre-engineering pipeline from five campuses to UH Manoa’s College of Engineering.

“These initiatives are grounded in core values of the University of Hawai‘i—academic rigor and excellence, integrity and service, aloha and respect,” said Johnsrud. “The future of Hawai‘i depends on our ability to raise our competitive edge. This is about the quality of life in Hawai‘i.”


About Linda Johnsrud

Linda Johnsrud headshot

As chief academic officer for the University of Hawai‘i System, Linda Johnsrud collaborates with lead campus academic officers to set forth the overall academic vision, goals, and strategic plan for the University of Hawai‘i System. She also advises the president on matters relating to systemwide planning, policy development and analysis, and oversees institutional research, international education and P–20 initiatives.

She previously served as acting/interim chancellor for UH West O‘ahu and associate dean for academic affairs for the UH Manoa College of Education, where she holds the rank of professor of educational administration.

Johnsrud chairs the WASC Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities. She was elected 2006–07 president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, an international association of scholars in the field of higher education. Author of more than 100 scholarly publications and refereed presentations, she was elected to lead the Postsecondary Division of the American Educational Research Association and served on the AERA executive council. She was a 1998–99 fellow of the American Council on Education.

Johnsrud holds a BS in English education from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, MS in college student personnel administration from Western Illinois University and a PhD in higher education with cognate in sociology from The Ohio State University.