The University of Hawaii Maui College has grown significantly in recent years with steady enrollment increases, a new $26 million science building nearing completion and the development of the Maui Culinary Academy, but UH officials remain committed to the institution's "community college roots."
"We think it's important that the school provides two-year programs for a small community such as Maui," said UH Maui Regent Saedene Ota on Tuesday. "Not everyone is looking for a four-year degree, and we want to make sure we're serving the entire community."
Ota, President M.R.C. Greenwood and other university officials attended the gathering at UH-Maui College to discuss the future of the campus. The meeting was part of UH leadership's "series of listening sessions" across all UH campuses.
University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood appeared with other university officials at a gathering at the University of Hawaii Maui College on Tuesday. The meeting was part of the UH leadership’s “series of listening sessions” across all UH campuses. About a half-dozen people, mostly UH-Maui College officials, attended the meeting that included a discussion of the future of the Maui institution.
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
The community meetings were organized a day after the UH Board of Regents agreed to retain the embattled Greenwood earlier this month in a meeting on Maui. She had been caught up in the controversy over the Stevie Wonder concert scam that left the university out $200,000.
In an interview after the meeting, Greenwood said she is looking forward to moving on from the controversy.
"I'm very gratified by the support from the board," she said. "This is a fine university, and my only focus is on moving forward."
During the meeting, attended by about a half-dozen people, mostly UH-Maui College officials, Greenwood emphasized that the future of the Kahului campus that reaches communities throughout the tri-isle county depends on the desires and the uniqueness of those communities.
"It's not what I want," Greenwood said. "It's what each of the communities want out of their school. There needs to be constant communication within the university system."
The UH president said that the university is stressing the importance of every student in the state having an opportunity at a higher education, and that there is nothing wrong with studying at one of UH's campuses from community colleges to the flagship at Manoa.
"We are most interested in the leadership here," Greenwood said. "The Learning Center has been tremendous in attracting and graduating students. We want to pump those numbers up but make sure to represent them as Maui's graduating class."
UH-MC offers 49 programs, which includes three bachelor's and 19 associate degrees. UH-MC Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto said at the meeting Tuesday that he doesn't see the number of four-year programs dramatically increasing in the near future but is confident about making more programs year-round.
"Some students come in and go into nursing, for example, and take classes till spring" Sakamoto said. "But because of summer jobs and other breaks, they might put their education on hold and not come back."
Although the UH-Maui College has a lot of nontraditional students, he said that the school has handed out more than a hundred bachelor's degrees, a number that is sure to increase in the future.
Since fall of 2002, student population has increased steadily. According to the Institutional Research and Analysis Office at the university, enrollment has increased from 2,989 to 4,382 in 2012 - a 46.6 percent increase.
"We're one of the fastest growing institutions in not only Hawaii, but in the entire country," Sakamoto said. "We've actually scrambled a little and have asked legislatures for funding."
With the rising enrollment rate and costs at the university, Sakamoto put together an office for grant proposals, which brought in $11.8 million last year and $18 million this year.
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at email@example.com.