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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 2, 2010

Accreditation officials have praise for University of Hawaii system

Advertiser Staff

Officials from two accrediting commissions for the 10-campus University of Hawai'i system told UH Board of Regents members yesterday that they were pleased with the amount of progress in the quality of student learning and experience, according to a UH news release.

Ralph Wolff, president and executive director of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges' Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, and Barbara Beno, president of WASC's Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, were in Honolulu to provide a general accreditation briefing and workshop to the regents.

The visits follow a report released earlier this month by WASC praising the university's flagship campus UH-Manoa for a big turnaround, saying the campus has "emerged from a difficult past," benefited from "stable" leadership and shows promise on meeting its goals. It's a turnaround from six years ago when major concerns were raised by the commission, putting the university's accreditation renewal into question.

A 2004 WASC report following a "special visit" expressed concerns about the distrust and discord between the Board of Regents and then-president Evan Dobelle and how that conflicts were hurting progress at the UH system and its biggest campus. In an action letter to UH that year, the WASC said its concerns were serious enough to threaten accreditation of the three four-year campuses in the UH system and said Manoa, in particular, had been "stymied" in its goals.

WASC officials yesterday told the regents they are pleased with recent progress.

"It's very encouraging to see how this new board has come together and that they are clearly committed to serving the needs of the university and the state of Hawai'i," Wolff said, according to a UH news release. "The progress that all of the campuses have made in improving the quality of their programs and services have been impressive."

Beno told regents that the community college system also appears to be in "good shape."

"The planning effort has been exemplary, and the steps being taken to collect and use such data as market demand, labor market conditions and student outcomes in the strategic planning process have been impressive," Beno.