Board of Regents Policy 4.201 Board of Regents Policy 4.201


Mission and Purpose of the University


Regents Policy Chapter 4, Planning
Regents Policy RP 4.201, Mission and Purpose of the University
Effective Date:  Mar. 20, 2009
Prior Dates Amended:  Sept. 19, 1970; Sept. 21, 1970; Oct. 18, 2002; Oct. 31, 2014 (recodified)
Review Date:  August 2017

I. Purpose

To set forth policy establishing the mission and purpose of the university.

II. Definitions

No policy specific or unique definitions apply.

III. Board of Regents Policy

    A. Introduction

        1. The board believes that it is essential from time to time to re-examine the mission and purpose of the university and to provide policy guidelines for its continued development and growth. The university has grown from a one-campus operation to a multi-campus, statewide system requiring coordination and the establishment of priorities and policies reflecting such change. The comments contained in this document, therefore, apply to the entire higher education in the state. The benefits accruing to the state from this arrangement are manifest when one compares the Hawai‘i system to the scattered and divided governance of higher education in most other states.

        2. The university has grown dramatically over the years. This growth has not only been wholeheartedly supported by the people of Hawai‘i; it was, in a sense, mandated by them. The state’s legislators and its elected and appointed officers could not have brought about such sustained growth without the understanding, encouragement and backing of the citizens of Hawai‘i. The commitment that the people of Hawai‘i have made to higher education is reflected in their financial support.

    B. An Environment of Change

        1. Since its founding, the university has undergone considerable change in size, scope, and complexity. The university reflects the economic and social realities of the state, which in turn, reflects the realities of the nation, and increasingly, the world. Both the state’s capacity for funding the university and the citizens’ demand for services are responsive to this environment. Planning occurs within this broad context of change.

    C. Mission and Purpose

        1. The primary mission of the university is to provide environments in which faculty, staff and students can discover, examine critically, preserve and transmit the knowledge, wisdom, and values that will help ensure the survival of present and future generations with improvement in the quality of life.

        2. In carrying out that mission, it is the basic purpose of the university to afford all qualified people of Hawai‘i an equal opportunity for quality college and university education at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

        3. As the only provider of public higher education in Hawai‘i, the university embraces its unique responsibilities to the indigenous people of Hawai‘i and to Hawai‘i’s indigenous language and culture. To fulfill this responsibility, the university ensures active support for the participation of Native Hawaiians at the university and support vigorous programs of study and support for the Hawaiian language, history, and culture.

        4. Within its unique geographical location, the university will serve as a leader in how its stewards the resources of the islands and the world for the benefit of all. The university shall be a global leader and model for the integration of sustainability throughout its teaching, research, operations, and public service. The university recognizes than an important knowledge base in sustainable island systems resides in the indigenous people of Hawai‘i and all those for whom Hawai‘i is home. The university commits to consult with local cultural practitioners and sustainability experts on best practices in sustainable resource allocation and use for the well-being of our communities, our state, and the world. Critical resources include energy, food, water, land and sea as they are integrated with the relationships of family, culture, community, justice, work, and economy in the present and future.

            a. Basic unit missions

                1. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is a doctoral/research university with selective admissions. It offers baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees in an array of liberal arts and professional fields, degrees in law and medicine and carries out organized research activities.

                2. University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is a comprehensive, primarily baccalaureate institution with a regional mission, offering baccalaureate degrees in the liberal arts, agriculture, nursing, and business, as well as select masters and doctoral degrees.

                3. University of Hawai‘i West O‘ahu is a four-year baccalaureate institution founded in the liberal arts, serving professional, career-related, and applied fields, based on state and regional needs, and providing access through partnerships and distance delivery.

                4. The University of Hawai‘i Community Colleges are open-door, low-tuition institutions. Community colleges offer two-year college transfer and general education programs, two and four-year career and technical education programs; semiprofessional, career and technical, and continuing education programs, and such other educational programs and services appropriate to community colleges.

            b. The board approves a mission statement that elaborates the basic system mission, articulating those qualities common to the system as a whole. At a minimum, the system mission incorporates the vision, purpose, and common values of the university system, emphasizing the fundamental commitment to access and quality. The university system’s special advantage and distinction in Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific affairs is highlighted in the mission, and the overall governance structure is summarized.

            c. The university is committed to diversity within and among all racial and ethnic groups served by public higher education in Hawai‘i. The president, working with the chancellors, ensures the unique commitment to Native Hawaiians is fulfilled by:

                1. Providing positive system-wide executive support in the development, implementation, and improvement of programs and services for Native Hawaiians;

                2. Encouraging the increased representation of Native Hawaiians at the university;

                3. Supporting full participations of Native Hawaiians in all initiatives and programs of the university;

                4. Actively soliciting consultation from the Native Hawaiian community and specifically Puko‘a, the system-wide council of Native Hawaiian faculty, staff and students that serves as advisory to the president;

                5. Providing for and promoting the use of the Hawaiian language within the university;

                6. Providing a level of support for the study of Hawaiian language, culture and history within the university that honors, perpetuates and strengthens those disciplines into the future;

                7. Encouraging Native Hawaiians to practice their language, culture and other aspects of their traditional customary rights throughout all university campuses and providing Hawaiian environments and facilities for such activities; and

                8. Addressing the education needs of Native Hawaiians, the State of Hawai‘i, and the world at large, in the areas of Hawaiian language, culture, and history through outreach.

            d. The university is committed to social, cultural, environmental, and economic sustainability in operations; education, research and service; planning, administration, and engagement; and cultural and community connections. The president, working with the chancellors, ensures the commitment to sustainability is fulfilled by:

                1. Establishing a Presidential Sustainability Policy that sets ambitious sustainability goals such that the university will achieve carbon neutrality, zero waste, and local food self-sufficiency;

                2. Providing system-wide executive support and coordination in the development, implementation, assessment, and improvement of programs and services that encourage sustainability throughout the university and each of its campuses;

                3. Ensuring that the university meets or exceeds all statewide policies, targets, and goals relevant to sustainability and coordinates with statewide sustainability initiatives;

                4. Establishing system-wide sustainability policies for operations; education, research and service; planning and administration; engagement; and cultural and community connections;

                5. Establishing system-wide and, where appropriate, campus-specific metrics and targets for improved efficiency and reduced resource waste for buildings, climate, dining, energy, grounds, purchasing, transportation, waste, and water;

                6. Developing mechanisms to track and re-invest savings from sustainability initiatives that further increase efficiencies, reduce waste, and improve sustainability; and;

                7. Reporting on accomplishments and challenges in implementing sustainable practices at the university.

            e. The president is delegated the authority to develop specific processes that carry out the intent of this board policy. The president and his/her designee shall report to the board annually on progress in carrying out the university’s commitment to sustainability.

            f. The board also approves separate mission statements for the major units of the system that use as their foundation the basic mission described herein and elaborates the separate and unique roles of these units within the system’s overall mission. At a minimum, these unit mission statements define their differentiated missions in terms of instruction, research and service roles, campus types, degree levels, populations served, student selectivity, and special campus distinctions.

            g. The president is responsible for adhering to the institution’s mission including a thorough review of university and unit missions as needed, but at least every ten (10) years. In conducting this review and recognizing the board’s final authority, to establish the mission of the university and its major units, the president ensures that each unit of the system has procedures that include full participation in the review process with opportunity for community input prior to submission to the board for adoption. All comments from the various sectors shall be summarized when transmitting the final document to the board.

IV. Delegation of Authority

The president is delegated the authority to develop specific processes that carry out the intent of this board policy. See RP 4.201(C)(4)(e).

V. Contact Information

Office of the Board of Regents, 956-8213,

VI. References

VII. Exhibits and Appendices

No Exhibits and Appendices found


    Approved as to Form:    
    Cynthia Quinn    
    October 31, 2014    
    Executive Administrator and Secretary of the Board of Regents


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