Very Rough Thinking DRAFT Not to be cited.
17 Dec 2002, updated 5 Mar 2003, 23 July 2003, 16 Oct 2004, 9 Dec 2004

Some thoughts on the UH reorganization...

Matthew McGranaghan


The wholesale reorganization of the UH administration is not what the UH Manoa Faculty Senate asked for in its resolution calling for the separation of the roles of UH System President and Manoa Chancellor [4]. The question of a separate ssytem administration had been addressed earlier [1]. When the UHMFS voted to call for the separation of the positions of Manoa Chancellor and UH System President, the intent was not to create a larger system infrastructure but rather to provide for someone who could speak for the interests of the Manoa campus within the system, without shirking duties toward its other parts. At the time, System President and Manoa Chancellor Kenneth P. Mortimer was often in the unseemly position of making allocations between the system's campuses, including the one for which he was the chancellor. The MFS intent was to have someone free to speak for Manoa's interests without appearing unfair to the other parts of that person's charge.

The MFS intent has been lost in the current [on-going, protracted, process of] reorganization. Rather than simply getting a voice to speak for Manoa, we have gotten a larger, redundant, system structure. We now have a system president, system VPs, and system offices with staffs and operating budgets. Perhaps worse, we have muddied the missions of the various units. That was never the intent, nor the recommendation of the MFS.

There is reason enough for the drift from the intent. The MFS "went off half-cocked". Its call for the separation of the functions ignored findings of its own study of UH governance [1] which concluded that there were no savings in the divided model. The BOR ran with it and the search committee pressed farther. I doubt anyone anticipated the result.

When Evan Dobelle was hired as UH President, he began setting up a System administration in proportion to his salary. The result seems to have been a cadre of highly paid administrators but no demonstrable improvement in the education of UH's students, nor in the university's ability to conduct research. Further, administrative imperatives clouded the missions of the various parts of the system, and perhaps worse Manoa was left without a functional campus adminstrative organization and told to wait untilt he system was in place.

UH's Parts, Roles, and Missions

UH is a large, multi-faceted, multi-purposed institution. An examination of the system, it's constituent parts and their roles (missions) is important to assessing what is happening in the reorganization.

It seems that in the mid-1980's the roles of the Manoa, Hilo, and the CCs were fairly well understood. Since then, 'mission creep' has muddied that understanding. Clear understanding of the roles of the parts is needed, and it is not obvious that this should be self-directed by each campus, at least not without consultation.

UH-Manoa has long joined two functions, teaching and research, quite well. (Setting aside here the extension and out-reach functions that accompany the the Land, Sea, and Space Grant status of the University.) In some states these functions are divided between a state university and a state college. Here, considerable economy had been achieved by housing both functions at Manoa. UH-Hilo has extended the state college access, and to a lesser degree has housed research. The community colleges have provided vocational and technical training as well as distributed access to core elements of introductory college and university curricula.

Consider the time line below. It indicates that the University of Hawaii has grown, since its inception nearly 100 years ago, by the addition of nine campuses and several missions.

The trend seems to involve growth, perhaps in response to the perceived needs of the state, but also loss of clarity in campus' missions.

The table below indicates the numbers of students and various types of programs across the system in 2002.

TABLE of campus enrollments and program counts, 2002/2003. [3]
Programs Offered
Post Bacc4301???????
Associate Deg115???2821191113221
Cert of Achiev82???20?10511322
Cert of Comple66???11?11126?17
Undergrad Cert5229?19?14?????
Grad Cert2626000000000
Stu:Fac Ratio?15:115:114:117:1?16:119:111:119:115:1

Add these things to the table:
 %PhD holders

 Library Holdings

The table indicates sizes of some aspects of the campuses, but it does not address the specific missions of the campuses. Nor does it address whether these are the roles that the campuses should have.

Several questions need to be kept in mind. What are the current needs of the state? What are the current missions of the campuses? Are the current missions what they should be? Who sets them? BOR? System administration? Campus administrations? Campus faculty?

UH Manoa has filled the roles of both the State College and the State University found in many states. It blends teaching, service and research functions. Previous Misson Statements noted this, but the recent round re-branding, re-organizing and re-fitting have left some question as to the roles (missions) of Manoa and the other campuses.

Hilo's role? ...

The roles of the CCs? ...

Has planning or mission creep changed the roles of any of the campuses? Have these changes been mutually understood?

The Reorganization in the 1980s

In the mid-1980s UH considered a major reorganisation. Part of the deliberations at that time was an ad hoc committee of faculty who spent a year or so trying to understand what was needed. Their report [3] is informative for the detail with which it lays out the functions that need to happen at different places in the system for UH to run.

System Reorganisation under Dobelle

Manoa was left to wait for the system to settle...

Current Reorganization(s)

The current reorganization effort has been less attentive to the functions that are needed than to the BOR mandate that reorganizations must include reporting charts, position functions and position numbers.

What will the System Office actually do? It has no students, no faculty, no research, nor even a separate physical existence. The various campuses have the students, faculty, and physical plants. Should the System "service" the campuses on things like personel and human resources management, student records, IT infrastructure and legal expertise? Or should those functions be campus functions? Should the system "coordinate" planning for curricular and physical plant development, or do the planning?

What does the state need and want of higher education?

This is a tough question which needs to be considered carefully, and several factors should be weighed.

Several public assessments of Hawaii's competitiveness in the 'information economy' have been made in the past few years, ("We were warned" in Honolulu Magazine [2] and other like things) and they are rather pessimistic about the education of Hawaii's workforce. This suggests that better education is needed.

Public sentiment in Hawaii tends to privilege private schools. Even to the point of providing public funds to back their repair and maintenance budgets. This plays against parents sending their children here to UH for college. If you have been paying $10,000 a year to go to private high-school, you are already used to paying a lot, and apparently willing to do so rather than trust Hawaii's public education system.

What can the state afford?

We have seen education, and in particular higher education, fall as a proportion of the state budget for the past several decades; from around 13% to around 8% in Mortimer's time (if memory serves, these figures need to be checked.).

Do we need to interpret access to higher education to mean 'every 10 miles'? Do we need to have it mean 'every possible area of study'? Richer states have spaced campuses more thinly. They don't need to be commuter schools.

Do we need more vocational and technical training opportunities? Do we need more liberal arts education? Professional schools?

Is administration where we need to spend money? Figures on the proportion of the budget that goes to support teaching vs administration now would be interesting. My sense is that the high salaries of the new administration team have shifted more money away from teachers in classrooms and books in libraries than was previously the case.

Concluding Observations

The past several years of reorganization have been demoralizing. Unprecedented administrative salaries, grandious titles, uncertainty as to the roles of the system and the individual campuses, and lack of a structure for the administraion of Manoa have not gotten the press coverage of the public firing of several administrators, but have had greater negative impact on the operations of the university.

The reorganization might have started with questions like "How can we best serve the state and its students?" and "What is the best (affordable) organization to do that?" rather than "How do we plausibly re-arrange (current and new) folks?" But it didn't. It might have involved a serious attempt to understand all of the functions ofthe university and build a system that best supports them. But it didn't.

It may be that we will soon be better off than we were in 1983 for Manoa to govern itself, but it will take time to know that.


[1] Final Report to the Faculty Senate on the Ad Hoc Committee on Administrative Structure. 9 May 1984. (Tom Dinell, Chairperson. Harry Ball, Addison Bowman, Judith Hughes, Robert Kane, Paticia Lee, Shelly Mark, Katzutoshi Najita, Ruth Nishimura, Robert Potter, and David Yount, members.) Available through the Univeristy Archivist.

[2] "We were warned." Honolulu Magazine

[3] Data compiled from the UH System's webpage for each campus at, and attributed to the Institutional Research Office MAPS reports, 2002/2003 . Interestingly, the System counts at ( don't usually match the sums of the campus counts. The source of the discrepencies is unknown.

[4] Manoa Faculty Senate. Resolution Title ??? Date: day month 2001?