What’s up with the changes to the campus budget model?

It’s not just the Athletics Department that’s running a deficit — after fiscal year 2014, nine other units at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa were operating in the red because they overspent what they were given.

This has caused fewer classes with higher numbers of students, according to David Chin, information and computer sciences (ICS) chairman and a Mānoa Faculty senate member, who says his department has grown 34 percent in the last three years in terms of instructional load.

“At this point we can’t simply add more seats to our classes anymore if they just all filled up. When you look at [the fall 2016 class availability webpage] for ICS in a few months, you’ll find all of our classes will have wait lists,” he said at the senate’s April 20 meeting. “…So that’s what it means in real terms for both students and faculty when we don’t have the right budget model.”

As the campus faces a hard time getting additional state funding, increased expenses and a historically-based budget, two groups are looking to change the way units receive money to spend – and they agree that students’ money should go back to benefit them.

Deficits FY 2014 V4
According to Meisenzahl, the units accumulated the deficits coming out of FY 2014. Numbers for FY 15 were unavailable. (Noelle Fujii/Ka Leo)

Arts and Sciences asks for more money

The fact that allocations given to units at the beginning of the fiscal year are less than operating costs has caused the Arts and Sciences Faculty Senate (ASFS) to pass two resolutions in March, one of which called on the chancellor to ask the legislature for a one-time infusion of $7.5 million for urgent fiscal relief of its four colleges.

These funds would be in addition to the current Arts and Sciences allocations and would not be offset by shifting other monies, the resolution said.

“For all the units, it was meant to be a one-time fusion of funds to bring us back to some level of health for one cycle,” said David Ross, a ASFS executive committee (EC) member and mathematics professor.

The hope was that moving to a new budget model would correct ongoing issues because allocations would be based on the actual expense of doing business.

CNS is in deficit because it overspent its official allocation on additional faculty, Ross said. In Languages, Linguistics and Literatures, faculty worked overtime and taught during summer so the college could pay for lecturers to teach general education courses, Ruth Hsu, an ASFSEC member, said.

“We’re providing [general education],” said, Aurelio Agcaoili, an Ilokano Language associate professor and ASFSEC member, said. “So the idea is that are we being recognized for the kind of services we’re doing for this university?”

All campus units are projected to spend within their budget allocations for this current fiscal year, according to UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl.

State has its hands tied

Rep. Isaac Choy said if he received the ASFS request at the beginning of the legislative session, he would have supported it.

Choy, who represents Mānoa, is well-known for introducing bills related to UH — especially this session.

Since the recession, state funding for the university system has increased every year, though the state did not account for inflation, Choy said. However, competing needs of various state departments prevents the state from giving UH more money.

“We’re not reluctant to give the UH more money; we just don’t got [money] to give,” he said in a phone interview.

Another reason is the university has another source of money – tuition, which UH raised in 2011 and is asking to increase again.

“…We used to be the bargain of the Pacific until we raised tuition seven percent, seven percent, seven percent. So now we’re above the median now,” he said. “…Hopefully they stop picking on the students. So now they have to better manage the funds that they have.”

Although the nine-member ASFSEC has not officially talked about budget model construction, Ross said students should benefit from the money they spend.

“What we would like is to see that if students are brought in and money is brought in to go with that, that money be used to guarantee that those students get seats in classrooms, that their classrooms are staffed by not by people dragged in off the street but by filling faculty as much as possible, that the students in the classrooms not just be ridiculously large, that the students get a quality education for their money,” Ross said.

FY 14 unit allocations
Instructional unit allocations – not including revenues and transfers – are made from general funds, the tuition and special fees fund and RTRF monies. Professional units are not included here. Figures come from the campus management summary reports for FY 2013-14. Numbers for FY 2015 were not yet available. (Noelle Fujii/ Ka Leo)

The chancellor’s budget model

The chancellor’s budget model focuses on the idea of instructional return.

“The philosophy is that in the increased revenue from tuition increases ought to go to the units who are teaching … students who are paying the tuition,” Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman said.

Distribution of tuition – which is one part of a unit’s allocation – would include:

– Undergraduate return: 40 percent of tuition revenues – after 20 percent is taken out to fund campus scholarships – would be allocated to units based on a mix of student semester hours (SSH), graduates and majors

– Graduate return: 70 percent of regular graduate tuition and 100 percent of differential tuition will return to the units

For FY 2016-17, the campus will pilot this system with any additional tuition collected, which the chancellor estimates to be around $2.5 million. Only the law, business and medical schools will pilot the graduate return method. These schools will also pilot a system where they have to fund their portion of scholarships externally, rather than contribute to the common scholarship pool.

The idea is to incentivize the units to major in their departments and graduate, according to Bley-Vroman, who says the opposite is currently in place with the historical model.

For the upcoming year, Bley-Vroman said the revenue-based components of budgets will increase, especially for those who do a lot of teaching, like Arts and Sciences, though the plan is to roll this model out over several years.

“It’s easy to change to new allocation systems if you’re just a wash-in money…,” Bley-Vroman said. “Everybody has seen cuts to the amount of money they have and some people are getting very close to not being able to fulfill what they need to do.”

The faculty senate’s model

A day after the chancellor released his model, the Mānoa Faculty Senate once again passed a resolution that recommended a phased-in adoption of a budget model that would distribute campus revenues to the units first before each pays off their proportion of costs relating to campus functions.

According to the senate’s Committee on Administration and Budget’s (CAB) presentation at the senate’s meeting, under this Responsibility-Centered Management (RCM) model, the campus’ income – 100 percent of general funds, tuition, which includes Outreach College fees, and RTRF monies – would first go to the schools, colleges and organized research units – also called responsibility centers.

Funds would be distributed as follows:

– Undergraduate tuition: based on SSH, majors and graduates

– Graduate tuition: based on major count

– Differential tuition: returns to the units that generate them

– General fund monies: based on permanent personnel expenditures

– RTRF monies: returns to the units that generate them

The hope is that by returning all income to the units first, they will be incentivized to do more research, increase graduation rates and hire more permanent faculty.

The responsibility center would then pay amounts proportionate to their uses for direct costs— like utilities, personnel and supplies. They would also pay amounts proportional to their revenues to support cost centers – like libraries, facilities and administration – and taxes for strategic investments, buffering fast enrollment changes and the system.

Under this model, each center would have advisory committees and budget information for the responsibility centers would be publically available.

“If it is not implemented, we are concerned that institutional financial troubles faced in recent years by UHM will continue,” the 10-member CAB said in an email.

Moving ahead

Both CAB and the chancellor will seek feedback and input from various stakeholders.

In the meantime, one department is seeing the effects of not having a change of faculty when people retire because there’s not enough money. Noel Kent, an ethnic studies professor, said he’s still teaching at 72 years old because once he leaves, his classes and work for students disappears.

“At this point as long as my health [is good], I’m willing to stay there and try to do my best,” he said. “If we had some younger person who was coming along and do things that I couldn’t possibly do, hey I’m out of here. So it really encourages people to stay, maybe, beyond their time.”

Mānoa fund sources

  • General– state-allocated funds
  • Tuition– supports general university operations
  • Research and Training Revolving Fund (RTRF)– supports university research activities
  • Other special– funds for a specific statutory purpose
  • Other revolving– funds that provide goods and services and are replenished by transfers from other funds or fees
  • Federal– contracts and grants, federal appropriated funds
  • Trust/private– non-federal contracts and grants, private awarded funds, gifts
  • Bond fund– funds associated with capital/bond projects
  • UH Foundation




Faculty senate passes resolution encouraging adoption of model that puts students first

The Mānoa Faculty Senate again showed its support for a budget model that would distribute campus revenues to the units first before each pays off their proportion of costs relating to campus functions.

Eighty-nine percent of senate members voted in support of a resolution that requests the phased adoption of a Responsibility-Centered Management (RCM) budget model approach as a basis for budgeting at UH Mānoa earlier today. This comes a day after Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman sent out a message to faculty about the model he was developing. The faculty senate had first voted on a resolution encouraging the RCM model in November 2014.

“What I think is really exciting is all the money would come into our departments, and we would be able to pay for what we need and then decide how much more we’re going to pay for administration instead of having them decide what they want to pay themselves. So when I look at Hawai‘i Hall, I see it growing and growing and growing, and we don’t get any discussion about how much they’re spending and who they’re hiring,” said Lilikala Kame’eleihiwa, a senate Committee on Administration and Budget (CAB) member, at the meeting. “I think we have to make a decision to take care of our students first, and I like this model because this model takes care of what we need for our students before it takes care of administration.”

The need for a new model

CAB member David Chin said the fact that budget allocations have remained flat despite an increase in enrollment for the College of Natural Sciences (CNS) is not the only problem. In the math department, the number of tenured track professors has decreased, and beginner level math courses are being offered with high numbers of students.

In fall 2016, Math 100 classes can hold hundreds of students.

“How the heck do we expect our students to actually learn math in these large lecturing conditions, which is basically impossible,” Chin said in his presentation at the meeting.

His computer and information sciences (ICS) department — where he is the chairman — has grown by 34 percent in the last three years in terms of student semester hours and number of majors.

“At this point we can’t simply add more seats to our classes anymore if they just all filled up. When you look at this page for ICS in a few months, you’ll find all of our classes will have wait lists,” he said. “So that’s what it means in real terms for both students and faculty when we don’t have the right budget model.”

Where revenues will go under this model

Chin said in his presentation that under this model, the campus’ income — general funds, tuition and Research, Training and Revolving Fund (RTRF) monies — would first go to the schools, colleges and organized research units; also called responsibility centers. The deans and directors would then be advised about their budgets by internal faculty committees.

All RTRF monies would return to the responsibility centers, providing incentive to increase the amount of research being done.

Tuition would include Outreach College fees, and undergraduate distribution would be based on student semester hours, majors and graduates. All differential and graduate tuition would return to the units that generate them, based on major count.

“We feel that if students are paying for this, their money should go purely for things that directly support their education,” Chin said.

This formula would incentivize schools and colleges to go out and recruit students, which according to Chin, is opposite of the current historically-based budget model.

“The current model, the more students you have, the more work it is for your faculty. The less attention you can give to the students in your class and the worse their experience will be,” he said. “So the incentive basically is to have fewer majors. If you get more majors, you don’t get any more money.”

An exemptions committee would review this formula and make exceptions to it.

General fund money, which comes from the state, would be distributed to the responsibility centers based on permanent personnel expenditures. According to Chin, general funds cover most of the campus’ personnel costs.

Units first, campus functions second

The schools, colleges and organized research units would then pay amounts proportional to their uses for direct costs – like utilities, personnel and supplies. They would also pay amounts proportional to their revenues to support cost centers — such as libraries, facilities, maintenance and administration — and taxes for strategic investments, buffering fast enrollment changes and the system.

Cost centers would be overseen by a committee of faculty, students and staff to determine their budgets, and this, according to Chin, gives an incentive to reduce administrative bloat.

“The more the cost center committee sends out to administration, the less colleges and schools have to spend themselves,” he said.

An advisory committee would oversee how taxes are given.

Further work ahead

Marguerite Butler, senate vice chair and an assistant biology professor, raised concerns whether there will be programs that cannot support themselves.

Chin said the committee would need to look at the numbers, though if units are harmed, it’s because they’re living beyond their means.

Instructional return to be part of chancellor’s budget model

Campus schools and colleges will soon see some of the tuition they bring in reflected in the pot of money they receive to operate and spend each year under Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman’s budget model.

His model is based on the idea of instructional return – the idea that a portion of the money units bring in that relate to instruction should be returned to those units that do the teaching and graduate students, according to a memo he sent to campus members earlier today.

“It means that for every college, school, organized research unit, every budgetary unit gets an allocation. Part of that allocation is based on this return of tuition and it goes up and down as your instruction goes up and down,” Bley-Vroman said to Ka Leo.

Forty percent of tuition revenues – after 20 percent is first taken out to fund scholarships for the campus – will be allocated to units based on instructional load. For 2016-17, the 40 percent will be piloted with any additional tuition collected.

In addition, the law, business and medical schools will pilot a special method in the upcoming year where 70 percent of regular graduate tuition collected and 100 percent of differential tuition will return to the units that generate them.

The campus faculty senate is also working on a budget model that will be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting.

Check back in our April 25 issue for more information on the campus’ budget models. 



This article was published in the March 2016 issue. 

Inspiration: Farmers told Vincent Kimura they needed an affordable way to protect their crops and increase their yields. Once he had an idea to address that problem, he teamed with Ryan Ozawa, Isar Mostafanezhad and Justin Hedani to create the mobile and desktop app called Smart Yields. It is part of the latest cohort of Blue Startups’ companies.

To read more, go to: http://www.hawaiibusiness.com/data-driven-farming/

How these Hawai‘i youth work to prevent suicide

A majority of teens in the U.S. tell someone they are thinking about committing suicide – and University of Hawai‘i researchers are working to help others recognize the warning signs earlier.

“If 85 percent are telling someone, 85 percent are reaching out and we can actually do something to help them, so we have to be able to recognize what is occurring,” Psychiatry Professor Deborah Goebert said in a phone interview.

From 2011 to 2014, she and a team of UH researchers and education organizations worked to create a model for youth groups to become gatekeepers — a safety net of people that can recognize the warning signs and provide connections to resources — as part of the Hawai‘is Caring Communities Initiative (HCCI) for Youth Suicide Prevention. Although the HCCI grant has ended, a council of teens and young adults continues to bring youth together to carry on the work this model started.

“If we’re going to target youth and we want to make a difference in the youth’s lives, we have to involve and engage youth because they’re important resources for their own friends and their peers,” said Jane Chung-Do, a public health assistant professor and HCCI staff member, in a phone interview.

Hawaii high school suicide rate .jpg
Nearly 11 percent of high school students reported attempting suicide in the past 12 months, according to the 2013 Hawai’i School Health Survey results. (Noelle Fujii/ Ka Leo)

Youth as gatekeepers

According to Goebert, everyone is a potential gatekeeper, though youth — defined as ages 14 to 24 — are important because they have eyes and ears on each other, especially on social media.

The Youth Leadership Council on Suicide Prevention’s purpose was to help sustain suicide prevention efforts statewide and to bring together partners on different islands to have a group to represent the youth voice, said Mara Pike, Mental Health America of Hawai‘i’s Pono Youth Program manager.

In addition, the council seeks to provide youth with leadership and development training on suicide prevention, civic engagement and community service opportunities and connect adults to support students as leaders in their home communities.

The group first met at a two-day suicide prevention conference on Big Island in 2015. Malia Bush, a freshman at Leeward Community College, said the fact that students were given leadership roles, rather than adults, stood out to her.

“[The adult leaders] let us youth council members brainstorm ideas — on how to raise awareness and provide resources within our communities — and gave us whatever support we needed, such as materials, training, and guidance when needed,” Bush said in an email. “They definitely empowered us.”

Kamehameha Schools senior Hi‘ilani Pacheco joined the council in October because she has a passion to increase awareness about the topic. She has since participated in sign waving and training activities and hopes to continue being involved when she attends college at one of the UH campuses in the fall.

Some members of the council also serve on the Prevent Suicide Hawaiʻi Task Force.

Training leaders

The council is a collaboration between Mental Health America of Hawaiʻi and HCCI, in addition to other local organizations. Since its establishment in April 2015, the group has grown from 78 youth and supportive adult members to 94, Pike said.

“You got to start the conversation and you have to be willing to open up and you have to be willing to talk about what’s going on and be vulnerable,” Pike said in a phone interview. “The adults are here to listen and … the youth, it’s really up to them to be able to help us understand what would be helpful for them in their communities.”

However, she said the challenge is that youth grow up and carry on with their lives. The council has ongoing enrollment and members contribute on a voluntary basis.

Future plans include a statewide self-care fair with stations on each of the islands in April and to bring suicide prevention training to middle schools.

“When we get a chance to bring them all together, you know, across the state and bring all these youth from different communities together, they really feel a sense of team or a sense of community,” Chung-Do said. “So they feel more empowered to do something about youth suicide prevention so they don’t feel so alone in their own little community.”

A model of youth leadership

The youth leadership model focuses on youth empowerment, suicide prevention trainings, community awareness events and team-building, Chung-Do said.

The model was implemented when HCCI’s Mobilizing Communities at Risk (MCAR) project partnered with six community organizations across the state to develop and implement community awareness activities in suicide prevention. The organizations were located in rural communities with a high proportion of youth and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. They were also already engaged in suicide prevention activities, though most were primarily focused on adults.

At each organization, youth leaders were identified, trained through a gatekeeper training program and engaged in community activities to increase awareness and teambuilding.

“We felt youth were key gatekeepers that hadn’t been tapped into in our state previously,” Goebert said. “So we wanted to not only train youth to become gatekeepers but also to do sort of a broader community awareness about suicide and the importance of suicide prevention.

The Prevent Suicide Hawai‘i Task Force will hold a gatekeeper training on April 18 on campus. For more information, go to:eventbrite.com/e/connect-suicide-prevention-training-41816-for-uhm-registration-22979105122.