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CAPP Report on the UHH proposal for the Doctorate in Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization and Feeder Programs

October 2004

The UHMFS Committee on Academic Policy and Planning is delighted that programs at our sister institution UHH have strengthened to the point where some are now in a position to contemplate granting the Ph.D. degree. We also support the basic idea that there should be an opportunity for students to undertake doctoral-level work in Hawaiian and indigenous languages, literature, culture, and related fields. We agree that the University of Hawaii is a natural venue for such study.

However, we are reminded that BOR policy explicitly and unambiguously decrees that Manoa will be the only campus within the system to offer the doctoral degree. We do not believe this policy to be arbitrary or careless, but rather believe that it reflects a deep understanding on the part of the Regents as to the academic and administrative requirements for such programs. Degree programs do not thrive in isolation; the academic and administrative infrastructure to support them is considerable, and go well beyond the immediate, visible needs of staffing one particular department. The State of Hawaii has already made a substantial investment over many years in such infrastructure here at Manoa, and in the absence of an overwhelming argument to the contrary we question the wisdom of establishing a new program in such a way as to deliberately make access to this infrastructure impossible.

We are disappointed that the system has not sought a solution which would enable establishment of such a degree within the spirit of BOR policy and best academic practice, but instead has chosen to dismiss the Board's requirement as unimportant.

We have serious concerns with the way that this program was brought to our attention and the attention of stakeholder departments at Manoa. It is the judgment of this committee that any decisions about the highest degree given by the University of Hawaii need wider input and very serious thought and discussion.

We want to emphasize that the committee has not had the proposal long enough to give it the level of review which new program proposals merit. Our brief discussions were therefore not about the substance of the proposal, but rather about the general concept of a Ph.D. program at UH Hilo; in particular, our recommendations should be read as a judgment on the logistics of this proposal and the process by which it is being ushered through the system, and not as a criticism of our Hilo colleagues.

In conclusion, it is the sense of this committee that this proposal ought not be approved in its present form, but that the parties involved should find a way to make such a program conform to BOR policy. We are optimistic that creative minds can find a way to carry this out without damage to the general vision of the proposers, and that synergy with related doctoral programs already established at Manoa will make the final product much better. We have long recognized that there is remarkable intellectual talent spread throughout the UH system, and anticipate that a clever approach to this program's establishment might serve as a precedent, to make it easier for Hawaii's research students to tap into that expertise.


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