Keep UH TIM School separate


POSTED: Friday, November 13, 2009

Once again, a proposed merger between the University of Hawaii's School of Travel Industry Management (TIM) and Shidler College of Business is in the news. Ten years ago the matter was thoroughly examined and rejected because it would not serve the needs of the university and the state. The reasons still hold.

More than 50 students met with Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw last month to strongly oppose the merger. They value the relevant TIM curriculum, knowledgeable faculty, personalized student services, internships and the competitive advantage of the TIM Bachelor of Science degree. They believe that a merger will diminish the relevance of their education and the value of their degree. Many stated that they would not have even chosen UH if TIM were under Shidler because of the different requirements.

Shidler students also are concerned, since many classes were cut and the rest are full. TIM students collected more than a dozen letters and 265 signatures against the merger.

The students wanted to know why this merger is being proposed when the TIM School is the most efficient unit on campus. It has the smallest budget and lowest instructional costs and the third-highest tuition revenues per student after medicine and law. It is the only unit on campus that earns more net tuition than is spent on its operational costs.

Two decades ago TIM lost half of its students when it was part of the College of Business, which switched to a two-year program. After separating in 1991, TIM restored its four-year program and recruited students through the smooth transfer from the community colleges and feeder Academies of Hospitality and Tourism in six high schools on three islands. Thus, TIM enrollments have more than doubled to 450 students with 130 graduates in 2008 — a 60 percent increase from 2003. Graduates in TIM normally enjoy 100 percent job placement.

The TIM faculty streamlined the curriculum by eliminating duplication in the basic business core, using its own specialized textbooks and faculty. A merger with Shidler would mean adopting the same core subjects at the expense of courses in service-based industries and other pertinent courses critical for tourism management. Rather than saving money, merging TIM would be costly since more resources would be needed to comply with additional accreditation and administration. For instance, about $750,000 would be needed to put TIM faculty on par with Shidler's high-salary scale.

The TIM School enjoys a strong international reputation. Eduardo Fayos-Sola, executive secretary of the Education and Science Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) based in Spain, said the following in his Sept. 4 open letter to Chancellor Hinshaw:

“;The School of Travel Industry Management at the University of Hawaii has been one of the most important university programs contributing to this work of the UNWTO over the years. Since the 1980s the TIM School has been one of the eight leading centers worldwide to provide leadership to other educational institutions. More recently it received the Tourism Education Quality ... certification and has continued to distinguish itself as a leader in the field.”;

Fayos-Sola continued:

“;I cannot speak strongly enough to suggest that this move would be an incredible loss for the TIM School and for all who have enjoyed its leadership over the decades.”;

The UNWTO lists the TIM School as one of the two top tourism programs in the U.S., along with George Washington University. The TIM School has a prestigious global brand that only a handful of programs at UH-Manoa have been able to achieve. Tourism is the world's largest industry. It is resilient and will rebound. Higher education has an important role in that process.

The UH should consider alternatives to a merger in favor of the global trend of establishing separate colleges in the field.


Juanita Liu, Ph.D., interim dean of the University of Hawaii-Manoa School of Travel Industry Management, wrote this commentary on behalf of the school's faculty, staff and students.