Setbacks mar effort to get UH in Singapore


POSTED: Monday, January 26, 2009

The start-up of the first overseas undergraduate campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa is on hold after the departure of the Travel Industry Management School dean, a glitch over accreditation, and faculty complaints.

; UH-Manoa had planned to enroll its first 35 students this summer in Singapore for a UH-Manoa travel industry management bachelor's degree at Temasek Polytechnic, a community college on the resort island of Sensota.

The joint venture between UH-Manoa, Singapore's government and the Tourism Academy at Temasek was approved by the Board of Regents in January 2007 after a presentation by former TIM school Dean Walter Jamieson.

Jamieson, who had been the driving force behind the project, left the university “;to pursue other opportunities,”; according to a UH news release last month.

“;There's a little uncertainty right now as to how or when things will happen,”; said Myrtle Yamada, a program officer at UH-Manoa Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

“;We still want this option open,”; said Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw. But she said the Singapore campus must first be accredited, and the financial plan would need to be re-examined in a changing marketplace.

Start-up costs for the project were estimated at about $1 million, which would be partially offset by a $387,000 loan from Singapore's government and about $500,000 in grants to support research projects on the campus.

But the project faces opposition from some faculty and alumni, who fear it will drain resources from the TIM school in Manoa.

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly also filed a complaint demanding that pay and benefits for faculty hired for the overseas TIM school be negotiated and covered by the faculty union contract.

UHPA Executive Director J.N. Musto said the university has now agreed that the Singapore faculty will be union members.

The interim TIM school dean, Juanita Liu, declined comment about the Singapore campus.

But Liu provided information to faculty union for articles posted on the UHPA Web site questioning the campus' financial viability. The article noted that plans to offer a master's degree through the TIM school failed because of a lack of enrollment.

In September the Western Association of Schools and Colleges denied UH-Manoa's request for accreditation of the Singapore program. WASC praised the planning and the budget of the program but said the university needs to have a plan to assess the progress and the quality of education being provided.

Hinshaw, who traveled to Singapore last year, stressed that UH-Manoa is committed to a presence in Singapore in some way. She noted that discussions are under way with universities there with the nursing program and others.

UH-Manoa still has a memorandum of understanding with Temasek Polytechnic for joint research projects with TIM faculty.

Last summer, two TIM faculty taught at the Temasek Tourism Academy as part of a five-week tourism management certificate program, and another faculty member taught a two-day course in business finance last fall, according to Temasek's Web site.

“;We still want a presence there,”; Hinshaw said, but she added, “;It's a different market now. We have to be sure the numbers (for opening a Singapore campus) still hold.”;