The University of Hawai'i at Manoa

Academic Affairs Prioritization Committee

Final Report on Units and Programs Reporting to the Senior Vice President for Research and Graduate Education

October 17, 1997

Committee Members:

James Gaines
P. Bion Griffin
Roderick A. Jacobs (committee chair)
Sumner LaCroix (Faculty Senate)
Walter Niemczura
Alan Yang, Dean, Student Affairs


The committee's charge was to take a systematic and close look at the units and programs reporting to the Senior Vice President for Research and Graduate Education in order to help develop a plan for the prioritization of programs and units at Manoa. The committee has met at regular intervals during September and October and has examined and discussed documentation regarding most of the units. However, for quite a number of the units, the information made available to us was insufficient to justify making definitive statements regarding prioritization.

To achieve such a goal a more thoroughgoing and time-consuming study would be needed, one which should be carried out after external program evaluations so that the committee would have relatively current data to work with. Obviously, with respect to possible consolidations and reductions, it is impossible to do an reasonable cost-benefit analysis without adequate cost data and similar documentation. The data available to us from the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, for example, was merely an internally produced strategic plan primarily communicating the School's position on what it needed for the future. We had no information as to position count, etc.

In this report, then, we are primarily identifying issues requiring further investigation and consideration plus some tentative findings concerning certain of the units. These are presented in the pages following.

A. The School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

1. First, it was clear that certain units were functioning efficiently enough to make any cuts both unnecessary and even damaging to the University. SOEST has been outstanding in its ability to attract outside funding for its research, research in areas central to the University's mission.

B. The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources

2. CTAHR is presently undergoing a thoroughgoing examination and restructuring under its new Dean. It has already made a number of major changes in response to major budget reductions, and the directions of change pointed to seem very promising. Accordingly we felt that further external intervention at this stage would be unnecessary and perhaps harmful. There is some concern that the value of the College's extension activities may not have been adequately taken into account.

C. The Curriculum Research and Development Group

3. We were unable to obtain a detailed report, but, from what documentation we had, we understand that the CRDG has been very favorably evaluated by a very distinguished external committee. Accordingly we see no point, given our resources and time-line, in attempting to second-guess those evaluators.

D. The John A. Burns School of Medicine

4. The committee had some serious concerns regarding the JABSOM. For a number of reasons, including the lack of adequate resources for creating a significant research base, the School was intended to be a clinical training institution rather than a research facility. In theory, the State could save money by opting out of medical education and providing scholarships to send eligible students to high quality medical schools elsewhere in the nation. Given the political realities, such a move is unlikely. A second strategy would be to compare JABSOM with good clinically focused schools elsewhere and to make changes based upon clear clinical criteria. We believe that the medical school at the University of California at Davis might be comparable in mission, though we would need more information to confirm this.

5. The organization of the University of Hawai'i medical school is somewhat unusual in that it has no teaching hospital of its own and is not identified with any single outside hospital, instead dispersing its students over some half dozen hospitals, with six month rotations from hospital to hospital, a procedure which could be depriving the programs of much of their coherence.

6. The School, rather surprisingly in view of its clinical mission, has a number of science departments whose academic areas considerably overlap those of larger departments in the College of Natural Sciences. The Medical School programs have small graduate faculties which bring in little external funding. It is noteworthy that a number of faculty in these science departments have migrated to other programs such as the Pacific Biomedical Research Center, leaving too few for undergraduate teaching. At the graduate level, Biophysics had just two graduate students in 1996, while Anatomy and Reproductive Biology had six. The former has not produced a single Master's degree or Ph.D. since 1993 (our documentation covers the years 1985-96) and has produced only one Master's and two Ph.D.'s since 1985! Anatomy and Reproductive Biology had one Master's and one Ph.D. in 1993-4, and one Master's and two Ph.D.'s in 1994-5. There were none in 1995-6. Pharmacology has graduated four Ph.D.'s since 1990. The figures are little better for Genetics. It is consequently very unclear, in the light of the School's clinical mission, why these departments are in the Ph.D. production business at all. There are larger, more productive Ph.D. programs in the College of Natural Sciences which could cover these fields with relatively minor restructuring.

7. Additionally, the location in the medical school of a department like Speech Pathology and Audiology is also questionable given its very different student make-up and also the existence of a Department of Speech in the College of Arts and Humanities.

8. It would certainly seem preferable to consolidate many of the Master's and Ph.D. programs into their closest counterparts in the College of Natural Sciences. Ph.D. programs may not be needed in a clinically oriented medical school with limited resources. We understand that such consolidation may have been blocked in the past because the JABSOM administration, while not opposing consolidation, had insisted on retaining the faculty positions. Consolidation might improve the quality and productivity of these programs while producing some savings in office costs and the number of II-month department chairs.

9. It appears that the Medical School may have a somewhat top-heavy administration for its size (20-25 FTE's) but to establish this we would need organization charts (which were lacking in the data provided) and further information such as job descriptions for the various administrative positions, which may well be justifiable in the light of the complex functions of such a program. The reports we have lack an adequate breakdown of the administrative structure.

E. The Office of the Senior Vice President for Research and Graduate Education

10. Considering the scope of the Graduate Division, the units under this office seem slimly staffed. We agree with the office's own point that any further reductions would lead to a reduction in the quality and quantity of service offered to the University and the larger community.

F. The Industrial Relations Center

11. We were unable to track down any external evaluation reports for the IRC, and we suspect there may be none. There is no evaluative data regarding the effectiveness of the Center's efforts in fulfilling its founding mission to promote in the community a sound understanding of labor-management problems, techniques, and policies ... and to provide for labor, management, and the community sources of information in the field of industrial relations. Two of the three long-term continuing projects listed in the IRC's strategic plan do not appear to be particularly ambitious.

12. The Center receives very little external funding and does not regard research as a primary function of its mission. The IRC's new strategic plan (August 1, 1997) incorrectly states that the Center has been successful in obtaining research and training grants as an organized research unit maintained at UHM. In FY1996 (we are not sure of the year because the information was undated) the Center was the only organized research unit not to generate any extramural funds budget.

13. We note the existence of the Center for Labor Education and Research (CLEAR), with a related and overlapping mission but a somewhat different orientation, recently relocated to the University of Hawai'i at West Oahu. Both CLEAR and IRC are mandated by state law. Both mandates strongly violate the principle of University autonomy and should be repealed. Further management decisions on the IRC should be delayed until an independent external review of its performance has been conducted.

G. The Social Sciences Research Institute

14. The budget for the SSRI has already been severely cut and we found the present staffing to be lean and very efficient. General funds allocated to SSRI now appear to be earning a better return in extramural funds for the University than in past years. In terms of its research funding scope, it is the only research institute at this university covering the areas of language, culture, and the social sciences. Manoa is the principal graduate and research campus in the system. As such it would be expected to have research units covering the major areas of study. There should be at least one interdisciplinary research unit covering the areas dealt with by SSRI. We simply cannot rely on instructional faculty in individual departments to be able to carry out the major, often cross-disciplinary, type of research expected of research in the social sciences at a Class 1 institution nor to foster the kind of cooperative activity needed for problem-solving work outside the University.

October 17, 1997