As many in our community have learned, the name of our college has changed to University of Hawaii Maui College. So what's in a name? Why is it important? What changes will occur?
Naming higher education facilities and programs in Maui Nui continues to evolve as the purpose of the programs responds to changing needs. The foundation for University of Hawaii Maui College stems from our community's earliest aspirations for and understanding of post-secondary education as an essential part of its continually improving future.
The evolution from Maui Vocational School established in 1931 to Maui Technical School in 1958 and then to the UH Board of Regents' approval of Maui Community College in 1966 reflects a rich history of Maui Nui's commitment to higher education. Even as the college morphs, it will preserve its commitment to "open admissions" at the lower division. In both two- and four-year programs, the college will challenge students with authentic and rigorous "program entry" prerequisites. The quest for continuous improvement for our students and college will be at the core of our UH-Maui College commitment.
A critical ally in fulfilling this goal is the accreditation process led in our state and California by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities. Accreditation hinges on institutional self-review to improve its capacity and educational effectiveness.
The highlights of the accreditation review are framed in three stages: the institutional proposal, the capacity and preparatory review and the educational effectiveness review. In order to obtain accreditation or remain accredited, each institution is required to demonstrate, through the three-stage process, that it fulfills the two core commitments of the accrediting commission.
The first is a "commitment to institutional capacity," which means that "the institution functions with clear purposes, high levels of institutional integrity, fiscal stability and appropriate organizational structures to fulfill its purposes."
The second is a "commitment to educational effectiveness," which means that "the institution evidences clear and appropriate educational objectives and design at the institutional and program level, and employs processes of review, including the collection and use of data, that assure delivery of programs and learner accomplishments at a level of performance appropriate for the degree or certificate awarded."
The commission has identified the following outcomes for the accreditation review process.
For the institution:
* The outcome development and more effective use of indicators of institutional performance and educational effectiveness to support institutional planning and decision making.
* Greater clarity about the institution's educational objectives and criteria for defining and evaluating those objectives.
* Improvement of the institution's capacity for self-review and its systems of quality assurance, data collection and analysis.
* A deeper understanding of student learning, the development of more varied and effective methods of assessing learning, evaluation of whether levels of performance are appropriate to the degree and program and the use of assessment results to improve program and institutional practices.
* Systematic engagement of the faculty on issues of assessing and improving teaching and learning processes within the institution and on aligning support systems for the faculty more effectively toward this end.
To fulfill the purposes of accreditation, there needs to be:
* Validation of the institution's presentation of evidence, both to assess compliance with accreditation standards and to provide a basis for institutional improvement.
* Demonstration of the institution's fulfillment of the core commitments to institutional capacity and educational effectiveness.
Institutions that have successfully completed the three-stage process find that the process can lead to significant institutional engagement and improvement on important issues, especially assessment, student learning outcomes and educational effectiveness.
UH-Maui College seeks to realize these ambitions in the coming years through addressing these accreditation expectations. While the language may be unfamiliar to some, the purpose of the requirements is clear. The college must "add value" and verify that our students and community have increasingly received and experienced effective programs and services. As students and community, your role will be to provide us with feedback to help shape our future and assure our quality.
* Clyde Sakamoto is chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. "Ka'ana Mana'o" means sharing thoughts. The column, which is scheduled to appear on the fourth Sunday of each month, is penned by UH-Maui College staff and is intended to provide the community of Maui County with information about opportunities available at the college.