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Minutes, Agendas & Reports

1995-1996


University of Hawaii at Manoa Faculty Congress, October 18, 1995

Architecture #205

Presiding: Co-Chair Alison Kay, Manoa Faculty Senate Executive Committee

Present: One hundred and eighty-four persons signed the attendance sheets placed just outside the auditorium.

Prof. Kay opened the meeting at 2:35 PM

The minutes of the Faculty Congress of Spring 1995 were approved as submitted.

Prof. Kay introduced President Kenneth Mortimer, reminding the Congress that he had also been the speaker at the Spring 1995 Congress when the magnitude of the budget crisis facing the University community was first becoming apparent.  She also called the attention of the assembly to the two Budget Crisis Teach-Ins which had been held October 11 and 16 in order to inform the community of the details of the history, current situation, and possible futures of the UH budget.  Thus, Prof. Kay made clear that the President would not be discussing the current budget crisis again, but rather would present us with his vision of the future of the University of Hawaii, and especially of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, in light of the budgetary situation.

[Note: President Mortimer prefaced his remarks by saying that it was his intention to publish his statement in Ku Lama as soon as possible, and thus that all the people taking notes so feverishly could put down their pens and listen in the assurance that a printed text would soon be available.  Your humble servant, the herein undersigned, continued scribbling, but he reports here only the bare outline of what he is confident can be read more fully in Ku Lama. However, his scribbled notes remain for future deciphering should the need arise.]

Pres. Mortimer began by referencing the "Focus on Manoa" document which has just been published and made available to the community in a variety of media.  "Focus" is the result of discussions about the future of Manoa
by a small group of students, faculty members and administrators who met at the urging of Pres. Mortimer, and were convened by Senior Vice President Carol Eastman last Spring.  While Pres. Mortimer commended the report to the Congress, he also expressed some reservations about some parts of the document.  Thus he said that his remarks to the Congress are in part an elaboration and in part a different perspective of the "Focus".

Pres. Mortimer organized his presentation around four themes: Quality, Access, and Limits; Unique Aspects of Manoa as a Liberal Arts/Research University; Fund-raising; and Manoa as a place to be.

Quality, Access and Limits.

It is here that Pres. Mortimer expressed his reservations about the "Focus on Manoa" document. "Focus" stresses the need to raise exit standards in order to raise the quality of the educational experience at Manoa.  But he thought it was better to raise the entrance requirements. 

"Is Manoa the best place for remedial education?" Pres. Mortimer asked?

The President also disputed the implication in "Focus" that the Academic Priorities set by the Faculty Senate in 1994 were not being followed, because there was a lack of "will and leadership" as the Focus document stated.

The Senate's Priorities have been followed and will be followed in the coming months, the President insisted.

Concerning admission standards, President Mortimer reminded the Congress that Manoa is only one of ten units within the UH System.  While open access must be guaranteed to the system, it should be not assured to every part of the system. And it certainly should not be guaranteed to Manoa.  Every person who seeks higher education in Hawaii should find a place, but that place need not be Manoa.

By restricting admission to Manoa to only fully qualified applicants, the reputation of Manoa generally will rise, and many excellent students who presently go to the mainland or elsewhere for their education will be drawn to Manoa instead.  Raising admission standards will improve the numbers and well as the quality of applicants, and not reduce them, the President stated.  "If we lead and believe in our principles, others will rise to our standards," he said.

Manoa as the Only Undergraduate and Research Institution in the State.

The standing of UHM has already risen if our ranking in US News and World Report is to be believed.  Last year we were in the 4th tier.  This year we are in the 2nd.  Other universities which are our peers in this tier included Iowa, Iowa State, Ohio State, Purdue, the entire SUNY system, Texas A& M, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, and many more outstanding universities.

These universities, as Manoa, strive to balance excellence in undergraduate education with excellence in research.  They have the mission, as does Manoa, not only of transmitting and applying knowledge, but of creating new knowledge.  Manoa is the only institution in the State which has that dual mission.  And we must be certain we preserve and strengthen it.

At Manoa, it is not a question of research versus teaching, but of research and teaching.  Indeed, we need to shorten the distance between research and teaching, especially at the undergraduate level, and see that the two are much more closely linked in actually and in the public mind.

We cannot expect our graduate programs to expand and grow in the immediate future as they did in the 1980s.  Our drive for universal excellence in research is good.  But very few universities are able to be excellent in every area of research within which they must nonetheless support programs.  Most universities can expect to be excellent in only a few and good in many more research areas, with the excellent ones inspiring and sustaining the rest.

The same is true for UHM.  We need to identify our areas of research excellence, and glory in their success.  Of course, we already know which units those basically are.  We just need to celebrate their excellence more clearly and unambiguously for all the world to see.

We cannot be all things to all people.  We can and must be as good as possible in all research we do undertake and sustain excellence in those few in which we have already obtained excellence.

At the same time, we clearly have too many deans and directors. We need to restructure and reduce our heavy administrative costs.

Fund Raising.

Historically, public universities, President Mortimer said, have understood that it was their duty to spend money.  Private universities knew they had to raise money, as well as spend it.

The University of Hawaii, though a public university, now must learn how to raise money as well as spend it.

The University this year for the first time obtained from the State Legislature the right to set and keep its own tuition--without that amount being subtracted from the General Funds the University receives from the State.

At the present time, tuition at UHM is among the lowest in the nation.  Even if we were to raise the amount by 75%, UHM tuition would still be below the average of other WICHE institutions.

Of course, we must be sure there is always a financial safety net for our students.  We must always refer to "Tuition and Financial Aid" as one single concept.  Discussion of Tuition must never be separated from a discussion of Financial Aid.

Over the coming months, we will be holding a series of public hearings concerning raising Tuition and establishing appropriate Financial Aid.

In addition, those units which can appropriately generate funds--for example, Summer Session and CCECS--should be encouraged and facilitated in doing so.

But we need much more private fund raising.  UH has extremely low rates of alumni giving.  This must be corrected.

In the past two years, we have increased giving to UH from private groups from $7 million to $19 million.  But we expect to continue to do even better.

However, just as banks only give loans to people who already have money--rather than the penniless who might seem to need it more--so also donors don't give to universities which do not support themselves. Thus we need to raise alumni and our own internal support of UHM. Donors also don't give to institutions which don't have clear goals and objectives for excellence.  We need to be sure that we have those goals, and articulate them clearly.

President Mortimer then read off the list of recent gifts of money and equipment which UH had recently received. This demonstrates that we can go even farther in successful fund raising.  "We will soon launch a major fund raising campaign," he said.

A Place to Be.

Finally, President Mortimer spoke about Manoa "as a place to be" by which he meant the physical, environmental, as well as academic climate of the campus.  "The cranes and trucks will soon be leaving," he pointed out, and we then must turn out attention to transforming Manoa into a place of beauty and scholarly tranquillity.  He commended the "Quad Squad" which is already focusing on the environment of the older UHM buildings.

Discussion:

At this point (3:21 PM) President Mortimer opened the floor to discussion.

Q.  How do you respond when you are asked why you haven't made any substantial cuts at the University yet?

Mortimer:  UH needs to proceed carefully.  We need to figure out what we might be able to do concerning setting tuition. We need to think carefully about the future of our professional schools. And we have only recently known the full size, scope and impact of the freeze and cuts.  Also, I am not the leader of some state agency, but of the University of Hawaii.

Q. You presented a very tempting vision, but one wholly unrelated to the realities of the present budget crisis.  Will the legislature and public support your vision?

Mortimer: Yes--if we articulate it well. "We can do all the things I mentioned" The State looks to us set our priorities.  It would be nice to have 5000 people show up at the Legislature in January to show we care.

Q. We are heading for a hornet's nest.  UH is the most politically-interfered with university in the nation. For example, can we remove the cap on out-of-state students so we can generate more income? we need to raise alumni and our own internal support of UHM.

Mortimer: Yes, and I am in favor of that.  I am going to make such a suggestion to the Board of Regents.

Q. What does "lessen the distance between teaching and research" really mean?

Mortimer: We need to demonstrate that our research enriches undergraduate education.  We can do that since we, wisely, do no classified research here.  So we can, and should, share our research more broadly.

Q. Doesn't a high quality research university need a high quality library?  If so, why did you cut it?

Mortimer: The UH has an acute cashflow problem.  And the Library is one of the few places with sizable amounts of cash (in order to buy books and periodicals, for example). So we had to restrict that just so we could pay our electricity bills, for example. We should get that money back so we can release it to the Library.

Q. In the meantime, the Library, and UH, go down the drain.

Mortimer: We simply don't have the money to spend.

Q. Thank you for your talk at the Bake Sale.  Will you also join the Halloween March?

Mortimer:  No. That is too focused an activity for the President.

Q. There appears to be hostility between the UH and the State Legislature. Lower level faculty feel hopeless.  Many junior faculty are leaving. The rest of us have not had a salary increase though the cost of living rises.  All of us have a very empty feeling.  What hope can you give us?

(Applause).

Mortimer: I wish I had a facile answer. We should avoid being adversarial here.  But the Legislature has given us greater autonomy than ever before.  We had fewer Legislative riders this year than usual so I am more optimistic in that regard than ever before.  So we must set our own course forward, carefully but clearly.

I am optimistic, but I am not naive.  I will give you more information as soon as I have it.  I can't give you hope now and still be realistic.

Q. Many of us teach in hot, overcrowded classrooms.  Students in them know we are not now a high quality university.  The needed money must be found.

Q. What are you going to do with the Focus on Manoa document?

Mortimer:  I will talk with the SEC about it soon.  I will push for some of the recommendations and work with the Faculty on the rest.

At 3:44 PM, President Mortimer thanked the Congress and took his leave.

Prof. Kay thanked President Mortimer for his presentation and discussion and then turned to other Congress business.

Linda Cox, of the Senate Executive Committee, passed out information about the Death of Educational Funeral March planned for October 31 from noon.

Prof. Kay gave a report to the Congress in her role as Co-Chair of the
Manoa Faculty Senate:

1.  The General Education project which began last year is well underway.  The basic question is what the first two years of general education at Manoa should look like--a consideration of the Core Curriculum again.

2. The Senate has had a more active committee system than usual.  For example, the Committee on Administration and Budget sponsored the Budget Crisis Teach-Ins, and the Committee on Academic Programs and Planning has continued to receive and review programs.  There is a new Ad Hoc Committee on the Library which is the successor to the old Manoa Library Committee chosen by Chief Librarian John Haak.

There being no further business, the Congress adjourned at 3:50 PM.  The Congress was immediately followed by the regular monthly meeting of the Manoa Faculty Senate, the minutes of which are published separately.

Respectfully submitted

Jim Dator
Secretary, Faculty Senate & Congress