The following is a list of top concerns for the University of Hawaii faculty. It is also a concern for students and others in the community because of the ability to attract and retain high quality faculty in Hawaii.
State Support for the UH System
Increasingly, the funding of UH is contingent on increased student tuition; faculty generate external funding, and contractual services. UHPA seeks legislators that will have legislative solutions that they will support to enhance state funding or be engaged in restructuring UH to meet the expanding needs.
The last three legislative sessions have sought to reduce or negate benefits in both retirement and health care. There were changes that have disportionally impacts new employees making recruitment and retention a significant issue. UHPA seeks legislators who will work to solve these funding issues without blaming employees and supporting the role of public sector unions in resolving these state benefit issues.
Employee Rights Erosion
We are seeing a disturbing trend across the nation to undermine the rights of employees at all levels, including the rights of faculty. There are attacks on collective bargaining at both the federal and state level. We need support of elected officials to uphold the rights of faculty, who are key to one of the most important economic engines in our state.
Education Reform, Faculty Governance, and Outcomes and Assessments
Federal legislation, such as No Child Left Behind, has created a legacy of new methods of assessment and accountability that is now transferring to higher education. This is being done in a manner that undermines faculty governance. In some instances program review has been given to third party agencies. Some which do not possess the skill or knowledge necessary to assess this venue.
Further, the measurement of success for public higher education has been relegated to graduation rates. Many non-traditional students take a course at the community college to help them improve job prospects, but do not intend to obtain a degree. There needs to be more discussion and input from faculty on defining success for students, faculty and the UH system and its various campuses.
Just as there are outcome-based measurements for K-12, there are now attempts to impose the same type of metrics on faculty of higher education. However, the process is complex and those teaching should have to opportunity to participate in determining education outcomes and assessments.
Affordable Workforce Housing
Affordable housing is critical for University of Hawaii faculty. The availability of affordable housing impacts the ability of the UH to recruit and retain quality faculty, and ultimately, this has an effect on the quality of education for students. In Hawaii we see the efforts to provide for military dependents but no action for civilian populations that are also critical to the state.
Student Loan Debt
Many of University of Hawaii graduates are drowning in student loan debt, in a climate with low job prospects and low wages. While there are programs to help reduced debt load, this should be expanded so that students can receive additional support.
Healthcare Benefits and EUTF Management
Our salaries, wages and benefits are intricately linked to the collective bargaining process and our contract. However, we know that the ability to honor the contract is in large part dependent upon government funding. For example, our healthcare benefits are linked to the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) and retirement are directly decided by Hawaii legislature.