University of Hawaiʻi President David Lassner discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education, how UH’s 10 campus system responded, and the expected lasting impact on colleges and universities nationwide. Lassner made his remarks while appearing on Insights on PBS Hawaiʻi on January 22, 2021 in the episode COVID-19: College Impact.
One of the first issues addressed was how the cost of higher education has remained the same despite the move to online instruction in spring 2020 because of the pandemic.
“There’s a national discussion around our students and getting what they’re paying for,” Lassner said. “What I would say from pretty much every college’s perspective is that costs haven’t gone down, they’ve gone up. We’re making incredible sets of arrangements to educate students effectively, and ensuring they stay on their pathways by providing additional assistance through this COVID-19 period.”
Lassner also highlighted the importance of embracing the positive impacts of the pandemic and what UH will continue implementing when campuses shift back to in-person instruction in fall 2021.
“I think our embrace of technology in every aspect of teaching, learning, working, and I think our investments in mental health, those are things that will stick with us,” said Lassner. “What I am proudest of is the grit and resilience of the community. This was not an easy year to get through by any means. Succeeding and taking our students through last spring, growing our class in the fall, keeping our class through the fall and into this spring, that took everybody. All of our faculty, all of our staff, all of our students really digging in and showing resilience and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Lassner was one of four panelists on the show that included Chaminade University President Lynn Babington, Konawaena High School counselor Travis Nakayama and Maui High School senior Jadynne Zane. The entire episode can be viewed online.