Thursday, June 3, 1999

UH won’t pay more for
School of Public Health

By Mary Adamski


A top University of Hawaii official says the administration is not going to spend the money needed to remedy shortcomings that will likely cost the School of Public Health its accreditation.

"The university is not in a position to provide the additional resources ... particularly when it cannot even exempt higher priority programs (as identified by the university's mission statement and strategic plan) from budget cuts," said Dean O. Smith, senior vice president and executive vice chancellor of UH-Manoa campus, in a news release yesterday.

Smith said the university "remains committed to offering an accredited master's in public health, the primary degree preparing students for work force opportunities and providing the state with trained professionals to address its public health needs."

He said the university has conveyed its position to the Council of Education in Public Health, which is considering the UH school's accreditation at meetings this week in Louisville, Ky. William Wood, interim dean of the Public Health School, was to speak to the council today.

Smith's news release was the UH administration's first public response to reports about last-ditch efforts to save the Public Health School.

Graduates and supporters wrote letters to UH President Kenneth Mortimer during a hunger strike by a handful of students and faculty which ended Monday.

Students and faculty pinned some hopes of impressing the accrediting authority with a pact by which the state Department of Health agreed to provide professionals to augment the faculty and open opportunities for practical experience on the job for students.

Smith's news release referred to the arrangement as a proposed memorandum of agreement, which will be developed for presentation to the UH Board of Regents.

Mortimer has said he favors making public health education a program in the university's medical school.

The Public Health School was put on probation status by the accrediting authority three years ago. Among its shortcomings are lack of a permanent dean, insufficient financial support and low research productivity.

Smith said the UH Manoa Graduate Council recommended a halt on new admissions to public health doctoral programs and Mortimer implemented the freeze for two years.

He said the university will meet its commitment to currently enrolled doctoral students.

His statement pointed out other changes which were forced by budget constraints.

They include merging library science degree programs into the Department of Information and Computer Sciences and the merger of Summer Session with the College of Continuing Education and Community Service.

Also pending is the merger of the School of Travel Industry Management with the College of Business Administration and consolidation of 11 departments into six in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

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