UH Hilo Receives WASC Results of Preparatory Review

Commission found campus has achieved substantial progress

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Jul 16, 2003

HONOLULU —The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) has completed the first phase of their two-part accreditation process for the University of Hawai'i at Hilo (UH Hilo). This preparatory review was originally scheduled for 2001, but postponed so that UH Hilo could be evaluated simultaneously with the other senior-level campuses under WASC‘s new standards issued in its 2001 Handbook. The second phase of UH Hilo‘s accreditation process, the educational effectiveness review, is scheduled to take place in March 2004.

"I am very pleased with the outcome of this preliminary review," said UH President Evan S. Dobelle. "UH Hilo‘s administrators, faculty and staff have made significant progress in a number of areas. The success of this review clearly shows that the UH Hilo campus community is poised to take on the challenges and the opportunities of their campus."

In their review of the campus, the WASC Commission acknowledged the improvement UH Hilo has made since its last review in 1997. In addition, the commission provided some constructive feedback on future opportunities and areas to be addressed prior to the final evaluation next year. The report stated, "Compared to what the visiting teams found in 1994 and 1997, we found an empowered university, full of activity and people excited about what they were accomplishing."

The commission found that UH Hilo had made "substantial progress" in a number of areas and noted that "great strides had been made in moving toward the vision of becoming a learning organization." In their report, the WASC team noted, "UH Hilo has taken positive steps toward identifying barriers to student success and developing and implementing programs, processes and activities that enhance retention, graduation and student satisfaction." In addition, the team
remarked that the campus "knows a great deal about its students." The report also emphasized UH Hilo‘s importance in the community as a resource located in an area where there are many barriers to successful completion of undergraduate programs.

"Our mission at UH Hilo is to support and encourage our students to think big and then work hard to achieve their educational goals," said Chancellor Rose Tseng. "The WASC preparatory report is a strong indication that we are focusing our energy in the right direction. UH Hilo will continue to work on innovative and effective methods to meet the needs of our students and community."

In addition the commission did point out some issues that require the attention of the UH Hilo community. These recommendations include streamlining faculty governance and organizational structures and expanding progress in assessing institutional and educational effectiveness outward from academic affairs to the entire university. The report also stated that UH Hilo needs to take advantage of already successful methods in responding to a very diverse student population with similar strategies in diversifying faculty and staff.

Finally, the commission expressed suggested that more clarity is needed on the UH Hilo mission and its role in the campus system. The report noted that the review team found that UH Hilo "has increased enrollment and programs without a corresponding increase in funding or clear UH system allocation plan or rationale." The commission suggested that response to this will need to occur at both the system and campus level.

"The opportunities raised by the WASC commission are legitimate and we are focused on addressing them in the most effective and efficient manner possible," said Tseng. "We look forward to the educational effectiveness review in the spring of 2004."