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Presented to the Mānoa Faculty Senate on August 31, 2005

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Address to the Manoa Faculty Senate

by: Denise Eby Konan
Interim Chancellor, UH-Manoa
August 31, 2005

Members of the Manoa Faculty Senate, it is an honor to be before you this afternoon. Indeed, it remains a bit of a surprise!

About six weeks ago, I was a senator and a member of the senate's executive committee. I was a faculty member, serving as chair, in the Department of Economics. And, I was very happy.

The chancellorship was not something that I sought. Within a very short time, however, I came to understand that it was the right thing for me to do. With our administrative structure, and indeed our leadership in a state of flux, Manoa is at a transitional point in our history. Manoa needs someone who knows our history, who can bring stability and yet hope. It is a time for me to give back to an institution that has given me so much.

I have been a professor at Manoa for a dozen years. It was my first academic post, and I have risen through the ranks. As an international trade economist, Hawai'i was an ideal place to study the forces of globalization. I published, I taught classes, I traveled to Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. I became an international consultant to Egypt, Tunisia, the International Monetary Fund, Arab Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. I was an advisor t the Council on Foreign Relations and the Institute for International Economics. I grew as a scholar amongst you.

I also served as the Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor for academic affairs for three years. I was in the center of much action including the re-creation of the chancellor's office, the development of "Defining our Destiny" and Manoa's strategic planning process, our 2003 WASC special visit, articulation negotiations, the review of academic programs, and the implementation of our new general education curriculum. As I served in academic affairs, I grew to appreciate the dedication of our faculty, our staff, and our students across the campus.

I am pleased to announce that on August 2, just after I took office, Executive Director Ralph Wolff postponed the WASC special visit scheduled last year until spring 2007!

Hawai'i is a place like none other. We are each here for our own special and unique reasons. For many of us, this place is the best in the world for our scholarship! Be it oceanography or botany, culture, language, arts, social science, medicine, and education. The uniqueness of our islands provides an ideal place for research and scholarship. Our cultural diversity is unparalleled. Our ecosystem and geography are at once accessible and yet unique. Our indigenous people, the native peoples of Hawai'i, continue to enrich our culture and values. We have a chance, here in Hawaii, to exercise stewardship over our lands, seas, and our people. If we get it right, we may well become a model for the world to emulate? a globally connected Hawaiian place of learning.

Goals for Manoa

I have a few goals for my term as the Interim Chancellor. I welcome your input and ask for your support.

  1. The Student Experience

    The first goes to the core of why we are here, OUR STUDENTS. Our student enrollments have expanded to the highest that we have on record. Our student headcount this fall is 20,519 or about 3,000 students more than in the fall of 2001.

    Our faculty has responded admirably. Class sizes have increased, as have our offerings at all levels. Yet, funding has not followed suit. We are stretched as a campus.

    The UH-Manoa is ranked in the US News and World Report. That is the good news. The bad news is that we remain in the third tier of 'national' universities and show no upward progress. Likewise, our placement in the National Survey on Student Engagement and the Princeton Review are disappointing.

    Vice Chancellor Neal Smatresk and I spent some time looking over the data and have these thoughts. There is the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    The good news is that our admissions standards are actually rather similar to those schools above the median. Our classes tend to be small and overwhelmingly taught by permanent faculty. Students have opportunities for enriched curriculum through learning communities, honors programs, and study abroad. They write papers and present their work, thanks to our innovative focus requirements. Manoa students are more likely to eat lunch with someone from another ethnicity and confront diverse perspectives in class than their counterparts elsewhere.

    Now for the bad. We are not adequately retaining our freshmen. The ones who stay are not persisting to graduate within six years. Relative to other research-extensive universities, Manoa students report that they are less likely to email or talk to their professor about an assignment or their future. They are more likely to memorize facts and less likely to apply theories to new and practical situations.

    They are less likely to attend a campus event.

    Most tellingly, when asked how they rate their experience at Manoa or whether they would attend again if given a choice, the response is significantly below the mean of our peers.

    And the ugly. There are pockets of the Manoa experience that do not shine. Just last week, the Princeton Review survey came out. Manoa ranked number two in the nation in the category 'dorms like dungeons,' sixth for long lines and red tape, and seventh for least happy students. While there may be flaws in the survey methodology, the punchline is painful. We cannot tolerate it.

    I declare this the Year of the Student!

    I enlist the Faculty Senate's help! Please help me review our survey data. Help me solicit new input from our students, faculty, and staff. Help me come up with strategies to improve the student experience.

    This involves more than just student satisfaction. It must involve student learning. We need to demonstrate student success through strong assessment programs.

    As Vice Chancellor Gary Ostrander points out, we need to build research opportunities into our curriculum. We need to strive for excellence in scholarship among our faculty.

    We must also strive for quality in our classrooms and beyond. "Defining our Destiny" sets forth Manoa's strategic imperatives for us to follow. We must go further. We must build partnerships between academic affairs and student affairs. We must involve faculty from across the curriculum. We must take a student perspective and recognize the diverse needs of our student body, be they dorm residents, mothers and fathers, or those working to put themselves through school. We must improve educational outcomes for all including indigenous sons and daughters of Hawai'i.

    We must create a more vibrant academic climate on campus. Please work with me.

  2. Functionality of the Chancellor's Office

    My second goal is not glamorous or glitzy. In fact, if I do it well, no one would notice! It is to bring functionality to the Chancellor's Office.

    Don't laugh! I'm not saying that we are dysfunctional. Remember, the Manoa Chancellor's Office is only a few years old (this time). We just put into place two of our permanent vice chancellors. We just passed a massive reorganization of the campus administration. We just recently moved out of Bachman and out of the UH system to carve out the role of a Chancellor for our campus.

    Some have questioned whether it is worth it, and ponder just letting the President run our affairs. After having spent some time in the system, I for one am a complete believer in our need for an independent voice for Manoa!

    We are not there yet. Our campus is very large and complex. We need to find a way to present ourselves coherently to the public, the Board of Regents, and our legislature. We need to advocate our interests and show how much we serve our state. We need to articulate just how important it is for Hawai'i to maintain a flagship, research-extensive university that is at the frontier of knowledge.

    We also need centralized coordination for administrative streamlining. We have Board of Regents' policies. We have UH executive policies. What we don't have is a set of Manoa policies. It creates confusion when the campus does not know who is responsible for what. It leads to duplication of efforts, and things falling between the cracks. This year, I will attend to the three Ps: policy, procedure, and protocol.

    To succeed requires shared governance. It will require faculty participation, student involvement, and staff commitment. It requires clear communication from the President, to the Chancellor, to our Deans and Directors, down to our Department Chairs. It requires leadership from our faculty senate, our student organizations, our staff collective organizations. Again, I need your help.

  3. Budget Alignment and Transparency

    You can't have an economist as Chancellor and expect me not to think about our budget!

    What a better time to do this than NOW. Our base budget has stabilized, and we have a potential for our resources to either expand or contract depending on how well we service our constituents.

    I am beginning by working closely with Acting Vice Chancellor for Administration, Finance, and Operations, Kathy Cutshaw, to develop templates for reporting our budget in a clear and transparent fashion.

    Our next step is to think about where we want to be several years down the line. As tuition goes up, we will need to vastly improve the quality of life for students if we are to maintain our base budget. If we succeed, Manoa will be a thriving place for students.

    Now is a good time to think about how we will distribute revenue to support the student experience and those things that we have identified as our priority.

  4. Permanent Chancellor

    When I agreed with David McClain to take on the role of Interim Chancellor, I also agreed to head up a national search process to identify my permanent successor.

    The Faculty Senate has asked that the process be Manoa led, rather than heavily managed by the UH system. They asked also that it be faculty driven.

    Our Deans and Directors, our students, and the Kuali`i Council are other groups with whom I've discussed this matter. Each wants to be deeply involved as well.

    My first step is to learn from our past. The SEC has done a remarkable job of compiling an overview of our previous process. What went well in our recent search, and what might we improve?

    I'll be identifying a chair to help me in the coming weeks. I'll be requesting nominations for the committee soon thereafter. I will be refining the search process with all interested stakeholders.

    Our goal is to find the best qualified candidate to recommend to the President and to the Board of Regents.

  5. Joy and Celebration

    My last goal for this year is to have some fun!

    Being Chancellor can, at times, be trying and stressful. I hope to make it overwhelmingly a joy.

    I'd like to celebrate all the talent that we have right here on campus.

    I have a vision of Manoa as a happening-place, with a thriving culture. It is a place to see and be seen, to take in a show or an exhibit. It becomes alive after five with events and celebrations that recognize who we are.

We are scholars, artists, and musicians from across this world. We are the sons and daughters of this island. We are the indigenous and first people of Hawai`i. We are proud of who we are.

Our "Defining our Destiny" provides direction.

Leadership ** Excellence ** Innovation

But, it is up to all of us to bring fruit to our vision.