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quote from MRC Greenwood

May 2011


This past weekend was a very exciting weekend for the University of Hawai‘i as our campuses and programs statewide celebrated Spring Commencement. We awarded more than 5,000 degrees and certificates this semester. That puts us over 9,200 degrees and certificates awarded this academic year, which is well ahead of our Hawai‘i Graduation Initiative goal.

I had the privilege of attending commencement ceremonies this year at Hawai‘i Community College, UH Hilo, UH Manoa and the John A. Burns School of Medicine. Hawai‘i Community College’s commencement was a special occasion for the campus as they celebrate their 70th anniversary. At UH Hilo, we recognized 84 students who made up the first graduating class of the College of Pharmacy, and 63 new doctors are now in the field after the John A. Burns School of Medicine’s annual convocation ceremony.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie spoke to our advanced degree graduates at UH Manoa and gave a rousing talk on the impact of the University of Hawai‘i to him personally and the important role we will play in the future of Hawai‘i.

Also, I’d like to recognize our University Centers on the neighbor islands for their continued efforts to help make baccalaureate and advanced degrees accessible to our neighbor island residents via distance learning. The UH Center on Maui celebrated its commencement ceremony last week with more than 100 students receiving degrees and certificates from our baccalaureate campuses.

Commencement is a time for us to rejoice in the important student and faculty success that it represents. I extend my congratulations to all our graduates as well as our faculty and staff who support our students every day and help them towards their goal of graduating from the University of Hawai‘i.

University and campus news

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Legislative/budget update

The 2011 legislative session has come to a close. It was a tough session for everyone as the state continues to struggle to address the budget shortfall.

As for the university’s general fund allocations, we still have some uncertainties even with the session completed. The Legislature left the administration to allocate cuts among state departments, including the university, for the results of the administration's collective bargaining negotiations with unions, which are ongoing.

In addition, the results of the Council on Revenues meeting on May 26 and the actual state revenues for the year at June 30 may result in further actions by the administration or the Legislature. We will be able to meet our obligations and serve our students, but perhaps not at the same levels, and we will have to continue to work very hard to conserve every resource. It is clear that we cannot continue to do business as usual. We will need everyone’s support to enhance efficiency and find resources internally to move forward on our strategic priorities.

Impact on the medical school

Also, as I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, the John A. Burns School of Medicine is bracing for a $4 million cut, which is almost 20 percent of their core state support. This came as a particular shock to us since both the House and the Senate had reached an agreement on a bill, but it was not released from conference committee in time for a floor vote. We are working with our legislators to try to address this situation, but with the session over, it will be challenging to get these critical funds restored.

So this is a very serious blow for us, and it’s going to force some changes at the medical school that we’re not going to be very happy with. The medical school and the Manoa campus are working to determine how they will manage this reduction in funds, and we will keep you updated on the situation.