Lecturers, courses at risk under chancellor’s budget

Published on July 28, 2014.
Published on July 28, 2014.

Lecturers hiring freeze July 28-2

Written by Alex Bitter, Editor-in-chief, and Noelle Fujii, News Editor.

With one month to go before fall semester begins, departments may lose lecturers that they have relied on to teach classes for years under a proposed hiring freeze.

Even as students continue to register for fall courses and faculty submit planned offerings for the spring, a spokesman for the Chancellor’s Office said it will be up to UH’s deans and program directors to decide what positions faculty will be able to hire.

Some lecturer and staff positions are expected to go unfilled this year under Chancellor Tom Apple’s plan to close a $10 million budget gap for the next two years.

According to Elmer Ka‘ai, director of advancement for the Chancellor’s Office, department heads can work with their respective overseers to come up with a sustainable business plan.

“A careful analysis of our budget has led to the conclusion that we need to trim our spending by $10 million this year and next year in order to regain our budget equilibrium,” Apple said in his memo. “That is about 2.5 percent of the budget that comes from the state and tuition, which is an amount we should be able to cut while preserving … core services for the students at the Mānoa campus.”

On July 15, Apple sent a memo proposing a hiring freeze, a freeze on mechanisms for increasing salaries that require state funding, budget controls and the creation of a campus-wide budget committee. He also requested that departments examine the size and use of tuition waivers in their graduate programs and minimize salary expenditures that may not give investment returns.

LOSING POSITIONS

Meda Chesney-Lind, chairwoman of the Women’s Studies department, said Approximately one-third of her classes are taught by lecturers and adjunct faculty, but it now looks like those classes may not be around in the fall as the paperwork for these lecturers haven’t all gone through.

“We don’t know that the agreement we made to you folks at the end of spring semester to run that fall schedule will be honored. Because lecturers generate a lot of money for the university from tuition revenue, cutting their positions doesn’t make sense,” Chesney-Lind said.

But there is an exemption process that could allow departments to hire lecturers if deans and directors determine that a position is critical. Ka‘ai said deans and directors must sign off before searches for new hires can begin.

Faculty who will be applying for tenure and promotion — both of which include salary increases — will also be affected, and whether those candidates will be considered for promotion will also depend on deans and directors.

According to Chesney-Lind, graduate students teaching as lecturers or serving as student assistants can’t count on having their job.

“That’s a lot of our graduate students,” she said. “I don’t remember this ever happening before.”

With just a few weeks until the spring schedule is due, department chairs “are having to face spring semester where we may not be able to hire these fabulous folks we’ve counted on to fill out our schedules for years,” Chesney-Lind said.

Robert Littman, chair of UH’s Classics Program, said Apple’s response to the shortfall wasn’t the best option.

“This whole idea of a budget freeze at a time when the state is rolling in money is ridiculous,” he said. “By cutting lecturers, you cut a cheap source of labor, and you reduce the availability of classes.”

One course that Littman teaches is Greek and Roman Mythology. The class is typically capped at 150 students and requires a graduate TA as well as student graders. While he will have both positions in the section of the class he is teaching this fall, he said he might have to reduce next spring’s section to 30.

LOW-ENROLLMENT CUTS

“Through their appropriate vice chancellors, the deans or Directors will recommend or suggest potential programs that may be eliminated,” Ka‘ai said. “At this time, no specific programs have been identified for closure.”

According to Ka‘ai, the campus will re-evaluate its fiscal situation at the end of fiscal years 2015 and 2016 to determine the length the hiring freeze will last.

Faculty and staff will still receive raises this year that were negotiated through collective bargaining with the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) and other public unions.

THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM

According to Apple’s memo, the campus has been using approximately $20 million a year from its reserves.

Robert Cooney, Faculty Senate vice chairman and an associate professor in public health, said Apple’s plan is a legitimate response to a significant budget problem.

“For many years, we’ve just been basically digging into the savings account to cover things, and it’s fast approaching the point where we’re not going to be able to do that anymore,” he said.

He thinks Mānoa is trying to do too much, and the question should be whether the campus can afford to do what it’s doing.

“The real fundamental question is: Can we afford the expensive research, the expensive medical school, athletics — which are some of the major expenditures,” he said.

Ka Leo previously reported that each student pays about $2,500 for the bill.

“Undergraduate students should really be upset about what’s happening,” Cooney said. “The money they’re paying in tuition is not going directly for their education and their benefit, and that’s not right.”

He said that there needs to be an open discussion with faculty and students on what the campus can afford.

Meanwhile, Littman said that Apple and other administrators don’t have the business savvy or budgeting experience to manage the university’s finances.

“Administrators have to deal with economic issues,” he said. “My experience with Apple is that he and the presidents just don’t have a good financial grasp on what it takes to run a financial business.”

A CONFUSING PLAN

The plan has left many students and faculty concerned and perplexed.

As of press time, no faculty Ka Leo spoke to have been advised about what cuts, if any, would need to be made for the upcoming semester. It was unclear when those determinations would be made, as well as how departments would apply for an exemption to the hiring freeze.

ASUH Vice President Kelly Zakimi said she and President Stephen Nishihara were still trying to gather more information about the budget plan before taking a stance on it.

Zakimi spoke on behalf of Nishihara, who was traveling abroad. While she said she supports the action Apple is taking to improve the campus’s financial situation, she added that ASUH would lobby against any course section cuts.

“If course sections are cut as a result of this attempt to close the budget gap, ASUH is planning to take action,” she said. “(They are) counterproductive to the Chancellor’s efforts of getting students to graduate on time.”

Restaurants’ health inspection statuses go public

Restaurant patrons can find out the results of a restaurant’s health inspection in real time under a new color-coded grading system the state Department of Health started this week.

Once an establishment has been reviewed, health inspectors will place a green, yellow or red placard on the outside wall that is easily visible to patrons.

“One thing it will do is it will increase transparency so that the public (will be) informed of the status on a restaurant in a very simple green is good, yellow is caution and red means the restaurant is closed,” said Gary Gill, deputy director for environmental health. “Hopefully, it will inspire greater responsiveness and responsibility on the part of the restaurant owners to take care of any problems that they may have.”

To read more, go to: http://www.staradvertiser.com/newspremium/20140726__Restaurants_health_inspection_statuses_go_public.html?id=268711612&c=n

Lack of funding stalled bid to give all students, teachers digital devices

Question: Whatever happened to the Department of Education’s plans to provide laptops for all Hawaii public school students and teachers?

Answer: The department just completed the first year of its Access Learning pilot program, which provided eight schools with nearly 7,000 digital devices, and is in the process of reviewing the lessons learned to develop a statewide implementation plan.

But because the state Legislature did not provide additional funding for more laptops, tablets, training and support this year, the program will not be expanding beyond the original eight schools in the 2014-15 year.

To read more, go to: http://www.staradvertiser.com/newspremium/20140724__Lack_of_funding_stalled_bid_to_give_all_students_teachers_digital_devices.html?id=268417072

Courses, faculty positions top concerns about budget

Graduate students and faculty are worried that a new campus budget announced last week may defund teaching positions and force them to cut course sections this fall.

Those who oversee graduate students, lecturers and others who teach undergraduate courses say Chancellor Tom Apple’s plan to close a $10 million budget gap may harm students, despite the Chancellor’s insistence that the cuts will create a more “student-centric campus.”

“Our largest concern at the moment is that departments will not be able to hire TAs (Research Assistants, or RAs, are usually on research grants and are thus not affected by these measures) and lecturers,” Graduate Student Organization President Michelle Tigchelaar said, adding that several departments have yet to finalize their teacher assistant positions for the upcoming semester. “If these would not be filled this would negatively impact both graduate students dependent on this income, and undergraduate students who need to take these classes.”

Apple’s plan includes a hiring freeze, a freeze on any mechanisms for increasing salaries that require state funding to do so, budget controls and the creation of a campus-wide budget committee. In a memo he sent out July 15 detailing his plan, the chancellor also asked departments to examine their graduate programs, looking at size and use of waivers to maximize tuition revenue and minimize salary expenditures on programs that may not give good returns on investments.

“A lot of questions still remain regarding the effect of the Chancellor’s new budget policies,” Tigchelaar said.

She said she is also concerned about the freeze negatively impacting course offerings and research activities.

According to Apple, accepted offers of employment will be honored but all other searches are suspended until further notice. Exemptions will only be granted if the position is crucial to operations.

“Hiring new faculty takes a long time, and freezing it mid-process thus seems irresponsible,” Tigchelaar said.

Ann Auman, chairwoman for the School of Communications, said the school may have to cancel up to 13 classes in the fall, which will affect more than 300 students in the school if it doesn’t receive funds for its lecturers.

“We are hopeful that the administration will honor the university’s commitment to students and hold fall classes in all units as scheduled,” she said. “People are saying that it’s never been this bad before.”

Apple’s memo also asks the committee to examine utility costs to see what savings could be made, a statement that Tigchelaar said would result in a more mindful use of natural resources and investments in renewable energy sources.

But overall, she thinks Apple’s measures seem extreme.

“Overall the measures seem rather extreme and extremely abrupt, seriously disrupting the normal functioning of many units on campus,” she said.  “I’m very skeptical of these measures not curbing the ‘strong upward trajectory’ the Chancellor is applauding in his memo.”

GSO will be monitoring the results of these measures, according to Tigchelaar, and will act accordingly.

http://www.kaleo.org/news/courses-faculty-positions-top-concerns-about-budget/article_a38c4a52-116e-11e4-ac34-001a4bcf6878.html

UH searches for a new vice chancellor

The search for University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s next vice chancellor for students has begun ahead of Vice Chancellor Francisco Hernandez’s departure on Aug. 1.

According to Michele Tom, executive search coordinator for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the search committee will be reviewing applications this month and anticipates the new vice chancellor will start in the fall semester.

The Search Advisory Committee, which is headed by Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Reed Dasenbrock, hopes the finalists will visit the campus sometime in September.

The search committee is comprised of 11 members, including one graduate and one undergraduate student representative.

According to Tom, students will have an opportunity to meet the position finalists when they visit the campus.

A focus on student life 

According to Hernandez, the  vice chancellor for students’ roles include overseeing student services offices and establishing strategic plans that are aligned with the goals of the campus and university.

“I oversee the general areas of enrollment management (admissions, financial aid), student life and development (housing, health services) and special services (childcare, College Opportunities Program),” he said. “I also advise the Chancellor and system leadership on issues related to student life.”

According to the campus’ position description, the vice chancellor is required to have a doctoral degree, five years of administrative experience in higher education student affairs and demonstrated experience in program innovation and development in response to changing needs.

According to Mānoa Chancellor Tom Apple, Hernandez’s leadership and dedication has changed the university.

“He has been very effective at improving and enhancing student life and services on campus, and his efforts have set the foundation for continued student success,” Apple said in a press release.

FRANCISCO HERNANDEZ

Vice Chancellor for Students Francisco Hernandez will be moving to a specialist faculty position to provide leadership to the Online Learning Academy office. OLA Mānoa undergraduates provide online math and science tutoring for grade school and community college students.

“Over my career as vice chancellor I have had a great interest in the use of online technologies to help students be successful in their college experiences,” he said. “I have also been interested in the use of these technologies to provide better access to higher education for students from low‑income and/or minority backgrounds.”

Hernandez started as Mānoa’s vice chancellor eight years ago after serving as the vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

While at Mānoa, Hernandez liked “being a part of a committed and passionate group of student services professionals who worked to constantly improve the quality of student life on the campus.”

“I very appreciated being a part of a great research university and be able to learn from all of, the university’s learning opportunities including research forums, libraries and the great number of presentations about critical topics,” he said.

He said he is also proud of many accomplishments.

“I am most proud of being a contributor to: one, the completion of major improvements to our student housing and campus center including the completion of Frear Hall and the Warrior Recreation Center, two, the significant increases in the amount of financial aid available to our students, and three, developing a set of strategic plans that increased the quality and level of service to our students,” he said.

http://www.kaleo.org/news/uh-searches-for-a-new-vice-chancellor/article_aa320d34-1078-11e4-b33a-001a4bcf6878.html

Honolulu zookeepers mourn the death of hippo

The Honolulu Zoo is mourning the loss of a hippopotamus named Rosey who enjoyed interacting with visitors.

The 25-year-old, 3,000-pound hippo was found dead Friday morning, said zoo Director Jeff Wilkinson.

Wilkinson said it’s unclear whether Rosey died Thursday night or Friday morning.

The results of a necropsy will be available in two to three weeks as blood and tissue samples were sent to a lab on the mainland.

“There was no indication of illness, and we do keep personnel to monitor them (the hippopotamuses) very carefully,”Wilkinson said, adding that the animals receive medical exams at least once a year.

Best beaches on O‘ahu

While Oʻahu has dozens of beaches to explore, some of them are better than others.

Get the 411 on what beaches are best for relaxing days and what beaches are better for adventuring.

Kualoa Regional Park

Location: 49-479 Kamehameha Hwy., Kane‘ohe

Amenities: Bathrooms, showers, lifeguard, campgrounds, parking lots

Pros: Located on the northeastern shore in Kaneʻohe, Kualoa, otherwise known as “ Chinaman’s Hat,” is the perfect beach to relax with your family or friends. The water is calm and fronts a small island offshore called “Chinamanʻs Hat.” The island is close enough for one to reach by kayak, stand-up paddleboard or, when itʻs low tide, walking. Many even hike around the island. The beach is also surrounded by a mountain range, making it a good place to take pictures. It’s also rarely crowded – another bonus.

Cons: Because the water is so calm, after it rains it will sometimes turn brown. Be sure to check water conditions before heading out. Once you get in the water, the sand is covered with small rocks and seaweed.

Kaiona Beach Park

Location: 41575 Kalaniana‘ole Hwy., Waimanalo

Amenities: Bathrooms, showers, picnic area, playground, parking lot

Pros: Nestled between the popular Makapuʻu and Waimanalo beaches, Kaiona is very laid back and is mainly filled with local families enjoying a barbecue on the beach. Many often bring kayaks and paddle out around the shoreline. There’s even an old fish pond where the water is calm enough to snorkel and is great for kids.

Cons: The parking lot fills up fast, especially on the weekends, so you may have to revert to street parking.

Kalama Beach

Location: 248 N. Kalaheo Ave., Kailua

Amenities: Parking lot, showers, bathrooms

Pros: Down the beach from the popular Kailua Beach Park, Kalama is often less crowded and has more space to lay out on the sand. The waves are pretty calm and people can surf farther out in the water.

Cons: Parking can be a hassle when the parking lot is full. Be careful where you park on the street to be sure you’re not blocking someone’s driveway.

Diamond Head Beach Park

Location: 3451 Diamond Head Rd., Honolulu

Amenities: Parking lot, showers

Pros: Situated behind Diamond Head, this beach is a popular surf spot. It also has a reef and calm enough waters to snorkel in closer to shore. This beach, located on the island’s south shore, also gets lots of sun, making it a great spot to work on your tan.

Cons: The water can be shallow in some areas and isn’t great for swimming near the reefs. Shade is very scarce so be sure to put on lots of sunscreen.

http://www.kaleo.org/nso/best-beaches-on-o-ahu/article_13e3b958-0ca0-11e4-bd44-0017a43b2370.html