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Manoa Faculty Senate: Chair's Report, April 21, 2004

Highlights

Manoa Budget Advisory Group
Articulation
WASC

Because there is such a full agenda for tomorrow's senate meeting, and because we have to start half an hour later than usual, I am sending the chair's report in advance and in writing. If people have any questions, please raise them at the meeting or by e-mail to the senate list.

First it must be confessed that for a significant part of the past month I was more preoccupied with matters of trying to secure a new faculty contract than with concerns of the senate. In addition, since the past month included both the semester break and Easter there was also a lull in the normal round of committee meetings.

Manoa Budget Advisory Group

The Manoa Budget Advisory Group has had a couple of meetings, but is finding it hard to make headway on the really difficult part of its task - figuring out what to suggest by way of improving the way we approach budgeting. The committee was due to report to MLT this week but both the MBAG meeting last week and the MLT meeting this week were cancelled. There is one recommendation that will be made and which is seen as a precondition for any progress. It is that all budgets down to department level be transparent and public (available on the web).

Articulation

Articulation reared it head again, this time at the April BOR meeting in a report to the Regent's Committee on Student Affairs. Vice President McClain announced at the meeting that he has decided that Manoa was acting within its rights in adopting hallmarks for Ethics and Oral Communication Focus hallmarks that require them to be upper division classes. He however wants to postpone full implementation of those hallmarks as applied to community college courses until January 2005. This is on the ground that the information around the system on this issue is still confusing to students.

WASC

I was not myself able to attend the BOR meeting (Roger Lukas was there for the SEC). I was in San Jose attending the Annual Meeting of WASC, hearing more than I really wanted to hear about assessment and why WASC is pushing this at us.

Frankly, however much we may resent the imposition of this requirement, we should probably be grateful to WASC, and other accrediting agencies, for trying to form something of a buffer between Universities and the Bush administration. Accrediting agencies are themselves, however, not in a politically strong position, which means that they feel obliged to pass on the demands for accountability, for needing to see outcomes, etc. Discussion of the potential for new problems (especially for Public Universities) as congress considers the Higher Education Reauthorization Act was hardly cheering.

The message conveyed from Ralph Wolff, the director of the WASC senior commission, concerning Manoa was also somewhat depressing. Although we all know that we currently have problems, it is disheartening to realize just how serious WASC sees them to be. He said that the report of the team that recently visited the UH system should be made public within about a month and that it contained quite a lot about Manoa. Since the UH administration has not yet seen this report, very little of its specific content was divulged. But there was an underlying message that Manoa's strength lies in its faculty, but we will have to be able to come together to set priorities for the campus, to unify around the project of working for the survival of Manoa and a vision of what it is that we want Manoa to be. To the extent that we are fractured and seek to further the interests of just our own departments or colleges, the campus as we have known it will not be able to resist dismemberment. That is a very real danger. There are voices in the state legislature who are telling the regents to distribute many more of Manoa's resources around the rest of the system and we have no advocates on the BOR. It seems that the senate will have some serious business to conduct next academic year.


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