UH Mānoa Faculty Senate approves new budget model resolution

A new budget model will make its way to the chancellor’s office after the campus Faculty Senate approved a resolution encouraging its adoption today.

The resolution encourages campus administration to adopt the Responsibility Center Management (RCM) budget model as a basis for fund allocation. Out of 53 votes, 38 members were in support of it.

“Our concerns about the level of allocations right now and the lack of reasoning for those allocations seem to be well addressed by the responsibility centered management model,” Bret Polopolus-Meredith, Fix UH Mānoa’s secretary, said. “Additionally what I like about the model is that in addition to receiving allocations to cover costs, current costs, and costs for increased enrollment and having that incentive to improve your program and grow your enrollment.”

The model values transparency, accountability, equity and predictability, according to David Chin, Information and Computer Sciences chairman. Chin gave a PowerPoint presentation on the model at the faculty senate’s meeting.

Responsibility center management

According to Chin, the current budget model is known as an incremental model.

“Basically we get state general funds and tuition revenues from our students coming in, and this is distributed to the various units, which are colleges and schools, based on what they got the prior year,” he said. “So no changes or any other reason. What you got is what you will get and have always gotten.”

He added that one reason the RCM model is needed is because no one can say why a particular unit gets the allocation that it currently receives, except that it’s always been that way.

“As a result, that leads to a lack of confidence in our leadership,” he said. “It leads to difficulty and garnering support for Mānoa at the sate Legislature because we can’t explain to them why our budget is structured the way it is. Lack of transparency they feel. And this erodes public confidence in UHM.”

The RCM model advocates for a precisely-prescribed revenue sharing model, he said, and aligns resources with the units that generate them.

At the University of Florida, which has adopted this model, its different revenues—comprised of state general funds, tuition revenues, indirect cost recovery and leverage and strategic initiative funds—go into responsibility centers, which can be departments, colleges or schools. Each responsibility center would receive a large percentage of the revenue it generates and each center would get to keep their carry forward funds.

The responsibility centers would pay their proportionate share to support the support centers, which include areas like student services, academic support and general administration.

Subvention is another aspect of the model, according to Chin, which is “basically a tax on revenues that all responsibility centers pay proportionally.” This would be used to fund strategic initiatives both at the university and college levels.

Budget concerns

Although the model encourages revenue transparency, there is still worry that the administration will revert to the ways its used to.

“I’m very nervous because it was very vague and I think that one of the main problems is that there is just a lack of transparency with the current budget and with the current administration,” Marguerite Butler, an associate professor for the Biology department, said. “So because there’s no actual guidelines or requirements, I don’t have any faith that the current administration will actually implement that kind of model in good faith because it’s too vague.”

She said she’s in favor of a model that tracks costs and rewards positive productivity.

“I’m afraid that it’s going to just be there’s going to be lip service to saying they’ve adopted it but they’ll just basically just figure out a way to keep doing what they’ve been doing,” she said.

The senate also approved an amendment to the resolution, which originally only applied to tuition and fees special and general fund allocations. The resolution now applies to these two funds in addition to outreach and research training and revolving funds.



Fix UH Mānoa ralliers to stay through end of week to create awareness

Ralliers from the group that is advocating for budget reform and protesting against teaching assistant cuts for the spring semester met with interim Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman earlier today, Fix UH Mānoa’s chairman said.

But some issues still have yet to be resolved. According to Vincent Cleveland, chairman for Fix UH Mānoa, no TA will lose a job because of budget cuts at least for the spring semester. Cleveland, along with other members of the group, met with Bley-Vroman and Reed Dasenbrock, the vice chancellor for academic affairs, to discuss the situation.

Yesterday afternoon, Dasenbrock issued a statement saying that no TA positions would be cut in the College of Natural Sciences for the spring semester.

According to graduate student Beth Lenz, the group expects to continue its sit in outside the Campus Center through the end of the week to create awareness about the campus’ budget across the student body.

“Basically we’re trying to create enough student interest so that down the line there is accountability and there is people checking in to make sure that their needs are being fulfilled,” Lenz said.

The group has requested the chancellor’s office issue a statement saying it is expecting a budget model before December.

“Then we want to be able to review that budget model as it comes out and get ready for it to be implemented,” Cleveland said. “So the statements that we talked about with the chancellor’s office, they’ve been warm to them; it sounds like they’re going to make them. But until they make them and until we decide to actually accept them, we’re going to keep continuing the sit in … We hold the right to say no your offer isn’t good enough.”

The group is in support of a Responsibility-Centered Management budget model that the Faculty Senate will discuss at its meeting tomorrow afternoon, he said. According to the senate’s presentation of the model, the RCM would align resources with generating units and precisely prescribe revenue sharing.

No TA contracts have been signed so far although tuition waiver forms for them are due this Friday, Cleveland said, but the chancellor’s office plans to push back the deadline for them.

According to Lenz, the campus has been working together since yesterday’s rally.

“I think one positive thing to say about this is anytime we do want to have communication with someone, we have been able to have meetings and sit down and have that conversation,” she said.


UH group to host plastic-free week

Published on Nov. 17, 2014.
Published on Nov. 17, 2014.

Sustainable UH will host its first plastic-free week in Campus Center this week.

“Our mission is to facilitate a permanent attitude shift among the student body to understand that it is possible to reduce their single-use plastic waste and have more sustainable choices and sustainable living practices,” Rachael Roehl, a member of Sustainable UH, said. “It’s very simple and students can do it too.”

The student organization will table across Jamba Juice from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day except Thursday.

The environmental hazards of single-use plastics

According to John Valera, an environmental planner from the state Department of Health, the Deposit Beverage Container Program collected over 247 million plastic containers – made of type 1 and 2 plastics – statewide in fiscal year 2014. In addition, more than 123 million plastic type 1 and 2 deposit beverage containers were not redeemed at redemption centers that year.

Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, Sustainable UH member Robert Hennessy said.

“It just breaks down into smaller particles,” he said. “It doesn’t ever disappear and so that gets into the food chain. And you have fish eating that and people eating fish and so on and so forth, as well as pollution at your favorite beach.”

The student organization will have one table of games for students to answer questions about plastic pollution and sustainable living, according to Roehl. In addition, the group will also put up whiteboards, one of which will have statistics on plastic pollution, and another for students to write their sustainability ideas on.

The group will be giving out reusable water bottles, utensil sets and T-shirts, according to Hennessey.

Kōkua Hawai‘i donated reusable water bottles and tote bags that will be given away throughout the week.

“College students are maintaining their own budgets and making purchases for themselves, so they hold a lot of buying power,” Kōkua Hawai‘i Director of Program Development Natalie McKinney said in an email interview. “Switching from single-use plastics to resuables is one way to become a conscious consumer. You actually end up saving money by carrying a reusable water bottle.”

Kōkua Market also donated glass Mason jars for the event.

“It’s doubly important that it comes from the students because when your peers talk about a project or an initiative and they show how it can be done, it’s much more powerful than someone else,” Lynette Larson, Kōkua general manager, said in a phone interview. “We have even more of a responsibility because we are an island and where does all of the waste go? So we just have to find ways to create less waste.”

Through this event, Sustainable UH hopes to get more students using reusable options, such as reusable water bottles and utensils.

“It’s important to reach out to students because this is the future, the people who are becoming educated and possibly going into politics or economics and making important decisions for future businesses, and the more sustainable decisions they could make, the better off our planet is going to be,” Roehl said. “Especially in Hawai‘i where we have such a beautiful marine ecosystem and we see the firsthand effects of what plastic pollution does.”

A long term goal

Prohibiting single-use plastic is a long-term goal for the group, according to Hennessy.

“We’re planting a seed for change,” he said. “In the future, definitely, that will be, it’s going to be implemented at some point.”

But for now, the group hopes its plastic-free week will have an impact.

“You can’t underscore the importance of getting people to switch over,” Hennessy said. “The problem is it is convenient to get a plastic water bottle or to get your plastic utensils, but it’s one of those things, it’s not in your backyard yet as far as seeing the effects of the plastic waste, but it’s there and it’s really important that we really push that awareness for a week at the very least.”

Roehl thinks a lot of students care about the environment and Hawai‘i, especially considering the state’s beauty.

“We want to protect it and take care of it,” she said. “Plastic pollution is a really big problem here. I think that through education, it can serve as an attitude shift for students towards their purchases and how they contribute.”


Fix UH Mānoa ralliers prepared to sit in at Campus Center until demands are met

Decked in red shirts and holding signs of their demands, a group of approximately 50 students, faculty and staff began their sit-in at the Campus Center courtyard this morning and is prepared to stay there until their demands are met.

“We’re here today to fight for budget reform,” Christie Wilcox, a Ph.D. candidate for the cellular molecular biology department, said. “We’re looking for the administration to propose a new budget allocation model by December and make it open to the public so the community can comment on it.”

The group of students, faculty and staff began the day with a rally on the corner of East-West Road and Dole Street before marching to McCarthy Mall, Hawaiʻi Hall and Bachman Hall. The rally, led by Fix UH Mānoa, happened in lieu of news that teaching assistant positions may be cut in the spring in the College of Natural Sciences.

“If they wait until April or May like they’re talking, then we’re going to be having the same problem we’re having now where you have sudden cuts coming at the end of the semester with no time to sort of account for it,” Wilcox said.

The new budget allocation model the group is proposing would be largely based on the generated tuition revenue so “the money follows the students,” Wilcox said.

She said the College of Arts and Sciences generates approximately half of the overall tuition revenue for the campus but only receives about 10 percent for funding. In addition, allocated funds aren’t increased when enrollment increases in the colleges and departments.

Concern for the future of teaching assistants

According to Wilcox, the forms for graduate tuition waivers, which teaching assistants receive, are due on Friday.

“We’re kind of hoping they tell us eventually who has a TA and who doesn’t,” she said. “We’re hearing a lot of talk and a lot of words and a lot of ‘oh don’t worry, we’re trying not to cut you.’ But at the moment I’m looking at a crowd of maybe 50 people and not one of them has a contract in hand.”

Bret Polopolus-Meredith, secretary for Fix UH Mānoa, said there are many final decisions that have yet to be made, including those on how many positions are being cut, what the departments and colleges are going to do, where the money is going to come from and whether the cuts will continue.

“It’s all last minute decisions, and it’s not good to be running a university on last minute decisions,” he said.

The cuts may also happen in the fall, according to Wilcox.

Proposing solutions

If the campus cuts classes, the students can’t graduate in four years, said Jonathon Whitney, a Ph.D. candidate for the biology department, to the group.

“There are clear solutions; we’re not just out here complaining,” he said. “We are proposing solutions and we need them to hear us.”

Wilcox hopes the sit in will have an impact.

“I hope that the sit in will save the jobs of TA’s for the spring to sort of act as a band aid for the moment,” she said. “And then I’m hoping that the admin hears us and that budget allocation model is in front of me in less than a week.”



Group rallies, demands budget reform

In protest of the budget cuts that are striking the campus, approximately 75 students, faculty and staff donning red shirts gathered on the corner of East-West Road and Dole Street.

The protest comes amidst last week’s news that teaching assistant positions in the College of Natural Sciences may be cut.

“This is all about the students, and we just wanted to get as many students involved and talking to students and having them join us,” said Bret Polopolus-Meredith, secretary for the Fix UH Mānoa group, which is leading the protest.

“We don’t care who resolves this budget reform problem; whether it’s the vice chancellors who have been in charge of the budget in their positions for years and years, or whether it’s the new interim chancellor, or whether it’s President (David) Lassner decides to step in and resolve, or if it’s the Board of Regents.”

Polopolus-Meredith added that it’s not clear how many teaching assistant positions are being cut, what the departments are going to do, whether there will be more cuts and whether the budget will be reallocated.

The group of 75 continued their rally through campus, marching through McCarthy Mall, and past Hawaiʻi and Bachman Halls before ending at Campus Center for a sit in.

“We wanted to make a statement to the people in those offices,” Polopolus-Meredith said.

Fix UH Mānoa hopes to accomplish budget reforms with this rally, he said, adding that the group is prepared to sit in at Campus Center until this is accomplished.

“We want the chancellor to commit to a new budget reallocation model,” Polopolus-Meredith said. “We want him to take the first steps towards that model by reallocating funds to support the teaching units that have had an increase in enrollment to cover these costs.”

Many students and faculty came to the rally to show their support.

“I’m here today to help these people protest against the budget cuts because it’s basically making it so they (students) can’t finish their degrees,” said Anthony Resetarits, a junior biology major.

Junior marine biology major Molly Jewell said she heard about the cuts from one of her teaching assistants.

“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that UH is doing this,” she said.

English Professor Subramanian Shankar believes teaching assistant positions are an integral part of the mission of the university.

“If eliminated or reduced, it’s going to really affect education,” he said. “It’s going to affect undergraduate classes, and I think the big picture is why … where is the money being spent? … Why are other things being funded while this is being eliminated?”

Marguerite Butler, an associate professor in biology, said students are the progeny of the university.

“Who will want to come here when the university doesn’t support students?” she said.



UH Mānoa continues to expand its international engagement

Published on Nov. 10, 2014.
Published on Nov. 10, 2014.

Aligning with the university’s internationalization initiative, the UH Mānoa campus continues to foster the diversification of the student body.

 According to UH’s Strategic Direction for International Engagement for 2010-2020, the 10 campuses will “embark on a decade-long campaign to make the University of Hawai‘i a preeminent center of international learning.”

“Some of the head figures here at UH Mānoa are just really spearheading the international initiative,” said Sara Otis, international exchange specialist for the Mānoa International Exchange mix. “In addition to exchange agreements, we’re going to see more combined degree agreements. So like 3+2 programs are starting to crop up, so different types of partnerships between UH Mānoa and overseas universities … Things are growing.”

She added that bringing international students to the campus enhances the environment and exposes local students to diverse perspectives, cultures and ways of life and learning.

An exchange of students

The 3+2 program Otis mentioned is a program where students would start their first three years at their home university and then come to the campus to finish their undergraduate degree and complete their master’s degree.

According to Xiaoxin Mu, 3+2 program coordinator for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the program was launched in April 2014. Currently, there are five of these 3+2 agreements, which exist between Chinese institutions such as Zhejiang University and Nankai University and the campus.

 “UHM academic units who participated are public health, philosophy, engineering, CTAHR and meteorology,” she said.

 In addition, there are six more agreements that are under review by campus academic units or their Chinese partners. Mu said it’s expected that the first group of 3+2 students will start their first semester in fall 2015.

Senior Mai Shiomi participated in one of MIX’s programs at Kyoto University. She thinks that coming to Mānoa is a good experience for any student since the campus is so culturally diverse.

“Keeping the campus diverse, I think, is important for us students that live here,” Shiomi said. “It’s important for us.”

UH’s internationalization strategic direction

UH’s International Engagement Strategic Direction states that the university aims to be a center for international learning, which will benefit the campus community.

According to the strategic direction, a primary purpose of the university is to prepare students to be internationally-engaged citizens that foster global perspectives.

Joanne Taira, senior executive for the system’s International and Strategic Initiatives, said UH has an “uncommonly diverse student body.”

“No one ethnic group is a majority,” Taira said in an email interview. “Many of our students have heritage ties to an array of cultures, regions, languages. Through its programs in Hawaiian Studies, UH is a leader in the revitalization of indigenous languages and culture, and has much to share.”

In addition, UH also fosters international collaborations academically.

Over the summer, UH launched its system’s international webpage to inform both internal and external audiences about active international engagement in the system and to drive viewers toward campus international webpages.

Sending students abroad and bringing some in

For about 10 years, MIX has sent and taken students from overseas for the fall, spring and summer semesters. With the MIX program, UH Mānoa students pay campus tuition when they go overseas.

About 150 to 200 Mānoa students participate in the program each year, according to Otis, adding that the program, especially the summer portion, is growing.

Students have the option to go to any of the 80 universities in 25 countries that UH Mānoa has a partnership with.

 “Really that’s just about a fraction of the international partnerships that UH Mānoa has,” Otis said. “There are hundreds of international partnerships with this university, but it’s only that many that have the student exchange.”

MIX’s slogan is “come to Mānoa, see the world,” according to Darrell Kicker, international exchange coordinator.

“We really want that to be the message – that you don’t have to leave Hawai‘i, necessarily, to really experience the whole world. Because we’re really bringing everybody here,” he said “For local students, it’s really a chance just to meet people, make friends all around the world, and get the different perspectives and outlooks that you may not get just from your local upbringing.”

 MIX will hold a fair on Nov. 13 in the Heritage Reading Room in Sinclair Library from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to expose more students to the program, according to Otis.

 “We’re hoping it’s a really open, friendly event for people to get some information and also talk to other students who have already gone abroad and can offer their advice,” she said.

 There will be tables for the various partner universities as well as an audio-visual display. Otis said there will also be several iPad stations for students to get peer assistance navigating the MIX website and searching for universities.

 “The MIX Fair has always been highly interactive, but we hope this new multimedia dimension will take that interaction to the next level,” she said.