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It is important that the process of planning for Post-Pandemic Hawaiʻi be placed in the context of several other ongoing efforts aimed at ensuring the financial health of the university in these challenging and uncertain times. The two primary efforts are:

  1. Present fiscal year planning: we have already taken many actions to ensure that the university can function through the present fiscal year without severe cuts to our operating budget and without the use of our reserves. These cost saving measures include the following:
    • A strict freeze on all hiring across the Mānoa campus. This freeze will produce a savings to the campus of approximately $9.8 million across all sources of funds. The freeze is producing significant disruption to many units, as it includes numerous essential faculty, staff and administrative hires. Both the academic and non-academic units have performed admirably in adjusting to the freeze.
    • A 42% reduction in our budget for lecturers. This reduction has been accomplished through a change in focus of our teaching load assignments so that we can ensure that introductory courses and courses required for graduation are given the highest priority. The deans, chairs and faculty have stepped up to contribute to our success in this effort. This action has produced savings to the Mānoa campus of approximately $4.5 million primarily in tuition fund savings.
    • A freeze on travel, equipment purchases, other purchases over $25,000, as well as other operating costs. All such expenditures must be approved by the president, after scrutiny by the provost and the VCAFO. We are estimating that over the course of the 2021 fiscal year, the combination of the freeze plus identification of additional operating cost reductions will produce a savings to the Mānoa campus of approximately $20 million across all fund sources.
  2. The Phase 2 UH Mānoa Administrative Reorganization

The Phase 2 reorganization follows Phase 1, which combined the positions of UH System President and UH Mānoa Chancellor and created the position of Provost at UH Mānoa.

Phase 2 is focused on the reorganization of the campus administrative functions under four Vice Provost offices—Academic Excellence, Student Success, Research and Enrollment Management. In addition to aligning our campus functions with these fundamental outcomes, this reorganization is aimed at reducing our administrative costs, including via the elimination of EM positions.

UH Mānoa Planning for Post-Pandemic Hawaiʻi

Overall, our efforts are aimed at preparing the university for Fiscal Year 2021–2022 and beyond. Our goal is to configure UH Mānoa to help lead Hawaiʻi through the greatest financial and health crisis of our lifetimes and to advance the development of a strong, diversified economy while providing essential support and services to our communities. Our emphasis must be on reviewing what UH Mānoa offers and does, particularly in comparison to what we should offer and do that will be most important for the future of Hawaiʻi, and what is needed to maintain and build on areas of strength for which we are internationally known.

All of this must be done while continuing to provide a well-rounded, high quality education informed by world-class (R1) research and scholarly work. We must be prepared to inspire and educate young people to be lifelong learners with the range of understanding and adaptability to be ready for whatever life throws at them. Many of our present students will likely change careers several times, and so the value of communication skills, critical thinking and cultural awareness is higher now than ever. When we place those skill sets and essential learning in the context of our place, with Native Hawaiian values and knowledge systems, our nexus in the Asia-Pacific region, and the imperative of the sustainable use of resources in an island environment, we can envision an exciting future for the university.

This process must also be placed in the context of the four major themes that define the UH Mānoa draft Strategic Plan:

  1. Becoming a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning
  2. Enhancing Student Success
  3. Excellence in Research
  4. Building a sustainable and resilient campus environment

And within the context of priorities for navigating Hawaiʻi through pandemic recovery and to a positive and sustainable future:

  1. Engage more Hawaiʻi residents in post-secondary education & training
  2. Prepare more Hawaiʻi residents to fill the jobs Hawaiʻi needs
  3. Seed new economic sectors and develop new approaches to old ones
  4. Strengthen the UH research enterprise as a major economic and intellectual driver


April, 2020. The process began in early April, 2020 with discussions with the Mānoa campus leadership, including vice chancellor-level leadership of administration/finances/operations, academic affairs, research, students, and enrollment management, vice president-level leadership of facilities and administration and information technology, and the leadership of athletics, the UH Mānoa schools and colleges, and the organized research units. Each unit was asked to produce a budget outline in response to three different scenarios in which the combined General Fund and Tuition Fund allocations are reduced by 10% / 15% / 20%. We also asked each unit to address the following:

  • List the programs within your unit that you consider of the highest quality with regard to education and research/scholarship/creative work
  • List the programs within your unit that you believe are of the highest relevance to Hawaiʻi
  • List the programs within your unit that are most cost-effective
  • Discuss opportunities to realize cross-unit academic and/or administrative efficiencies within your unit or with others on campus

For this purpose, a program was defined broadly and could be a degree program, an extension or research program, student support unit, or other activity or function.

May–August, 2020. A team was assembled to assist in the program-level review of each academic unit (while the review of the administrative units continued under the Phase 2 UH Mānoa Administrative Reorganization). The aim was to gather the essential information to assist the academic unit leaders in addressing the questions listed above. This work was done over the summer in order to be ready for robust campus consultation at the start of the fall semester. The team consisted of President Lassner, Provost Bruno, Interim Vice Chancellor for Administration, Finance and Operations Sandy French, Interim Vice Chancellor for Research Velma Kameoka, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Laura Lyons, and Senior Advisor to the Provost Wendy Pearson.

Guiding questions

The team assembled the following data and information for each academic program and department, and discussed the following questions:


  • Course enrollment (including data on small classes)
  • Program enrollment (including secondary majors)
  • Number of graduates (degrees conferred)
  • Number of faculty (FTE)
  • Student Semester Hours
  • Extramural awards
  • Low Enrolled Program Reports (explanations and responses)

Program Reviews/Accreditation Findings/Program Actions & Requirements

  • Previous program review findings; response to recommendations
  • Accreditation findings and actions; response to findings
  • Recent program actions and modifications
  • Program requirements (efficiencies in curriculum; overlap in course requirements across concentrations and degrees as applicable)
  • Is the program growing, remaining stable, or declining in enrollment?
  • Is SSH increasing or decreasing?
  • Has faculty FTE kept pace with enrollment growth (or decline)?
  • Where is the tenure-track faculty instruction concentrated (undergraduate vs. graduate courses)?
  • Are there capacity issues (FTE, other constraints—limits on cohort size, required student-faculty ratios per accreditation requirements, etc.)?
  • If enrollment is growing, is the department trying to do too much with too little (efficiencies in curriculum)?
  • If enrollment is declining, can FTE be decreased while still meeting course requirements for the degree?
  • If enrollment is stable, is the program identified as “low enrolled”?
  • Would a hiring freeze lead to a decrease in FTE that would threaten the ability to deliver the program?
  • For undergraduate programs, are there opportunities to increase enrollment through articulation agreements (e.g., number of 100- and 200- level courses that articulate at the UH Community Colleges)?
  • What percentage of the (undergraduate) program is taught by lecturers, I2s? Are there opportunities to increase the number of tenure-track faculty (including researcher faculty) teaching in the undergraduate program?
  • Would a redistribution of teaching (undergraduate v. graduate) support growth in the program?
  • Is program accreditation expected or required for licensure in this field? If so, is the program accredited? Is the program on probation; threatened with loss of accreditation?
  • Are there similar programs within the school/college; campus?
  • Is the department/program in the right organizational unit/campus? (Review of peer/benchmark institutions)
  • Are there similar departments/disciplines on campus that could be combined for efficiency?
  • Are there opportunities to support enrollment growth through partnerships with other units inside/outside of the School/College (agreements, joint appointments, etc.), including with Organized Research Units (ORUs)?

State Need Questions

  • Is the unit positioned to support growth in programs needed by the state?
  • Are there opportunities to develop new programs that would meet state need and/or reflect areas of excellence for UH Mānoa (modifications or new programs to address changes in the discipline/emerging fields; professional master’s degrees, online delivery of programs, etc.)?

Initial suggestions to start discussions

This information, along with the discussions with each unit leader guided the development of an initial set of suggestions for a number of academic programs and departments. From August 24 through September 2, 1:1 meetings were held with each unit leadership. The suggestions were shared, and the unit deans/directors were asked to begin internal discussions with their department chairs and faculty to facilitate the review of the suggestions and the development of responses, counter-proposals, etc. The suggestions and the criteria for adoption included the following:

Program Recommendations and Criteria

  • Continue with recommendations to strengthen program
    Criteria: Enrollment healthy and stable, and supported by sufficient faculty FTE; responsive to program review/accreditation findings; no major issues identified.
  • Continue with recommendations to add capacity to address increasing enrollment/strengthen the program
    Criteria: Enrollment growing in one or more programs in areas of excellence/student demand/state need; recommend additional FTE to support existing students and/or to grow program.
  • Continue with recommendation to partner with another unit to increase enrollment/strengthen the program
    Criteria: Enrollment could grow through partnership on recruitment/joint courses or hires.
  • Continue with recommendation to merge with similar program or unit, and possibly to establish concentrations for efficiency
    Criteria: Similar degree programs or disciplines on campus.
  • Temporarily stop-out admission to program to fix major issues
    Criteria: One or more of the following conditions applies: program review/accreditation findings suggest modification; needed modification is significant such that a pause in admission is needed to provide the space to revise the curriculum.
  • Stop-out admission to program
    Criteria: One or more of the following conditions applies: continued low student demand; department would be unable to deliver program with a multiple-year hiring freeze; continued declining enrollment below small program threshold with few opportunities for growth; loss of accreditation or on probation; unable to secure accreditation expected for discipline or required for licensure; program duplication; low-enrolled and does not meet needs of the state; quality issues (few tenure-track faculty supporting the program/reliance on I2s and lecturers); continued lack of responsiveness to program review/accreditation recommendations and findings.

Organizational Recommendations and Criteria

  • Continue in current unit
    Criteria: Unit/programs appear to be a good fit for the department/school/college.
  • Consider partnership through agreements or joint appointments
    Criteria: Partnership would strengthen capacity, offer opportunities for growth and/or increase quality of program offerings.
  • Merge with another department
    Criteria: Merger with a similar unit would increase or strengthen capacity, offer opportunities for growth and/or improve quality of program offerings.
  • Reorganize the department under a different School/College
    Criteria: Unit/programs not a good fit for the department/school/college and/or may thrive under different organizational structure; reorganization would position the campus to develop/increase area(s) of excellence.

Process from here

September–December, 2020. The information described above was posted on the UH Mānoa Planning for Post-Pandemic Hawaiʻi website on September 11, 2020, along with the team’s suggestions and the preliminary response from each unit’s leadership.

On September 21 and 22, requests for formal consultation were sent to UHPA, HGEA, UPW, Mānoa Faculty Senate, Mānoa Staff Senate, Kūaliʻi Council, ASUH and GSO.

The team is conducting meetings with highly impacted departments, and other departments upon request, to discuss the original suggestions, the deans’ written responses, and the concerns and ideas of the faculty.

To-date the following meetings have occurred:

  • September 15: Meeting with the chairs of 5 departments—Ethnic Studies, Women’s Studies, American Studies, Pacific Island Studies and Asian Studies.
  • September 22: Meeting with the faculty of the Department of Theatre and Dance.
  • September 24: Meeting with the chair of the Department of Art and Art History, the faculty of Art History and the dean of CALL.
  • September 29: Meeting with the Department of IPLL.

On October 12, each dean will provide an update during a 3-hour meeting with all of the UH Mānoa deans. These presentations will be shared with the campus via the Planning for Post-Pandemic Hawaiʻi website.

We will explore the use of online feedback, including anonymous responses, from both the campus community and the external community, viewable by all.

We are proposing that we work with the UH Mānoa Faculty Senate SEC, the UH Mānoa Staff Senate, UHPA, HGEA, UPW, Kūaliʻi Council, ASUH and GSO to create a working group. This working group would meet at least every other week to conduct open discussions about the proposals coming forward as we continue through the process outlined here.

Our intent is to keep the department-level and unit-level discussions going, with input from and discussion with the team, through the end of November.

We are aiming to have a description of proposed program, department and unit-level changes (many of which will require formal review and approval), along with estimates of the anticipated cost savings and enrollment growth, by December 11, 2020.

All plans will be shared for final consultation with UHPA, HGEA, UPW, UH Mānoa Faculty Senate, UH Mānoa Staff Senate, Kūaliʻi Council, ASUH and GSO on or around this date.

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