Category Archives: Hawaii Graduation Initiative

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

I had the honor of meeting Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education at a dinner coordinated by the Hawaiʻi Department of Education and hosted by Debbie Berger and Bill Reeves of The Learning Coalition.

Secretary Duncan was in Honolulu as part of his Race to the Top tour of all 50 states. The U.S. Department of Education says Duncan is the first education secretary to visit Hawaiʻi in about 20 years.

While here, Secretary Duncan visited Ka Waihona o ka Naʻauao public charter school on the Waiʻanae Coast as well as Waipahu High School. He also praised the Hawaiʻi DOE and the public school system for significant progress made in the $75 million Race to the Top grant.

We are proud of the strong partnership between UH and the state DOE; one strong example of this was witnessed by Secretary Duncan in the work that Leeward Community College and UH West Oʻahu are doing with Waipahu High School around accelerated learning and early college classes.

KITV: U.S. Secretary of Education visits Waipahu High School

55 by ’25 campaign launch

group photograph

Senator Jill Tokuda; GG Weisenfeld, Executive Office on Early Learning; David Lassner, UH System; Karen Lee, Hawaiʻi P–20 Partnerships for Education, Kathryn Matayoshi, Hawaiʻi State Department of Education; John La Forgia, Hawaiʻi Pacific Health; Governor Neil Abercrombie; Rep. Roy Takumi; and John Komeiji, Hawaiian TelCom at the 55 by ’25 initiative launch. Photo via the Office of the Governor on Flickr

We launched the second phase of Hawaiʻi P-20’s public awareness and action campaign January 28 with a news conference at Honolulu Community College. 55 by ’25 aims to have 55 percent of working age adults holding two to four-year college degrees by the year 2025. We hope this campaign raises awareness and creates urgency about the need for students to pursue education beyond high school or Hawaiʻi will not be competitive in the 21st century.

man at podium

Photo via the Office of the Governor on Flickr

In my remarks, I said, “When the state needed the University of Hawaiʻi most during the recent recession, we stepped up, enrolled more students, and increased the graduation rate by 27 percent… and we’re ready to do more!”

woman and man smiling

Hawaiʻi P-20’s Karen Lee with Governor Abercrombie. Photo via the Office of the Governor on Flickr

Thanks to all who attended our news conference, with a special thanks to Governor Neil Abercrombie, GG Weisenfeld, Director, Executive Office on Early Learning; Kathryn Matayoshi, Superintendent, Hawaiʻi State Department of Education; John La Forgia, Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer of Hawaiʻi Pacific Health (our platinum sponsor); Karen Lee, Executive Director, Hawaiʻi P-20 Partnerships for Education; and Richard Mizusawa, Associated Students of the University of Hawaiʻi (ASUH).

VIDEO: Educated workforce critical to Hawaiʻi’s future

Complete College America

I am very pleased to report to you that results of one of our major initiatives—the Hawaiʻi Graduation Initiative—are garnering national attention for the University of Hawaiʻi.

Part of our progress can be seen in the 20 percent increase in UH graduates since 2008. More recently, in fall 2012, there was a 14.7 percent increase in the number of students taking 15 credits or more systemwide.

Because of these and other measures, Hawaiʻi was one of only three states chosen by Complete College America for an academy to develop next steps and specific strategies to improve college completion outcomes. Complete College America brought about 16 staff to the state capital and UH chancellors, vice chancellors and staff from across our 10 campus system—about 100 in all—participated in planning for specific completion goals.

In addition, the University of Hawaiʻi has been invited to present our 15-to-Finish campaign at Complete College America’s annual conference in December. The president of Complete College America says Hawaiʻi is among the top 5 to 10 states in making progress toward increasing graduation rates.

We have a video that was shot at the recent two-day Hawaiʻi Graduation Initiative Summit II at the State Capital and explains why all of us at the University of Hawaiʻi should be very proud of what we are accomplishing in this area.

Career and Technical Education conference

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The UH Community Colleges partnered with the Office of the State Director for Career and Technical Education and the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education to present the 2011 Career and Technical Education conference Where Innovation Begins on Oct. 28 at the Sheraton Waikīkī.

More than 500 people attended from DOE and UH as well as the business community.

I was joined by DOESuperintendent Kathryn Matayoshi to offer opening remarks, but the real highlight was the innovative and interactive exhibits of career and technical education, which included a television production set, virtual welding simulator and carpentry model home project. There were also more than 20 workshops on topics ranging from social media applications to cyberbullying and hands-on technology stations with personal guidance.

Higher education conference convenes

four people talking on lanai

College accrediting agency official Ralph Wolff, Vice President Linda Johnsrud and Chancellor Rota on arrival for the conference

The University of Hawaiʻi was honored to be chosen by APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation) and the U.S. State Department to host the officially sanctioned APEC Higher Education Conference August 4–6, hosting delegates from the education ministry and other high-level government officials from 20 of the 21 economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

Dr. Eduardo Ochoa, assistant secretary for postsecondary education for the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. delegate to the APEC Higher Education Conference, was among the first day’s keynote presenters. Delegates considered the theme of the conference, Quality in Higher Education and what that means to colleges and universities in their home countries, among other topics related to their higher educational systems.

Read more about the conference.

Achieving the Dream

Loea Akiona, MRC Greenwood, Mike Buck

Loea Akiona, a Windward Community College graduate now working in student affairs at the college, joins me to talk with Community Matters radio show host Mike Buck, right, about Achieving the Dream. UH has had impressive success with our efforts in this multi-year national initiative to help more community college students succeed, particularly those from groups who have traditionally faced the most significant barriers to success, including low-income and Native Hawaiian students.

We also talk about increase in research grants and other great news reported at the July 7 Board of Regents meeting.

Listen in Sunday, July 10, from 6 to 7 a.m. on any of the seven Clear Channel radio stations—KSSK AM590 92.3 FM, KDNN 98.5FM, KHVH 830AM, KIKI 990AM, KHJZ 93.9FM and KUCD 101.9FM.

Achieving the Dream

group shot of Native Hawaiian graduates in regalia

Leeward Community College students Achieving the Dream!

Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting will give us a chance to boast about one of our most successful initiatives—Achieving the Dream.

We partnered with Kamehameha Schools and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs four years ago to make higher education more accessible to native Hawaiians. We invested time and money into greater community outreach, more counselors to help students apply for scholarships, increased development and training in remedial courses to bring grades up and a lot more financial aid.

Bottom line: Native Hawaiian enrollment systemwide has doubled from 4,600 to 9,200, and the number of Hawaiians graduating is up 32 percent! That includes the Ke Ala Ike Native Hawaiian Excellence Program spring 2011 graduates pictured here.

That is certainly something to celebrate and a validation that we are striving to be the model indigenous-serving higher ed institution.

Commencement Time

group shot at graduation ceremony

From left, Rep. Jerry Chang and Hawaiʻi County Councilmen Dennis “Fresh” Onishi and J Yoshimoto

Throughout my career in higher education, no time has brought me more joy and fulfillment than the commencement season. It is a time to rejoice in important student and faculty success. It is the ceremonial representation of higher education’s ability to transforms people’s lives.

The 2011 exercises also means we are some 5,000 graduates closer to our goal of increasing the number of college-educated citizens in the state. At about 9,200 degrees and certificates awarded this academic year, we’re ahead of our goal.

Jerry Chang was at the UH Hilo ceremony May 13 at Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium and sent the photo above.

I also attended the Hawaiʻi Community College, John A. Burns School of Medicine and UH Mānoa advanced degree ceremonies.