Thursday, April 22, 1999

UH has to
cut services,
Mortimer says

The school is unable to do
the job it did in the past,
the president says

Neglect crippled UH-Manoa

Faculty: Manoa needs chancellor

By Helen Altonn


After years of state budget cuts, the University of Hawaii no longer can provide the services traditionally expected of it, UH President Kenneth Mortimer said.

"It's still a great place to get an education," he said. "We win national popularity polls for the education we provide, particularly at Manoa."

Research and training grants have set records for two years and this is expected to be another banner year, Mortimer said.

But he said funding cuts have severely damaged the institution's ability to maintain its facilities and the scope of its offerings.

Once the Legislature ends, he said, decisions will have to be made to deal with the funding situation.

"We're not able to sustain the level of support in the future that we had in the past."

Manoa has a structure tailored for about 35,000 students when its enrollment is 17,000, he said. "We cannot afford the configuration of the schools we've had."

Future uncertain

He said the administration has been examining its professional schools, which are encouraged to be more dependent on tuition and look to the professions they support for financial assistance.

The law school now is largely supported by tuition, and slightly higher tuition has been approved for the nursing and medical schools, he said. Further discussions will be held about tuition increases in all the schools, he said.

Facing uncertain futures are the medical and public health schools -- both with interim deans.

Mortimer discussed the university's financial situation after meeting yesterday with four past presidents of alumni of the UH School of Public Health. They are exploring means of preventing the school's potential loss of accreditation in June and possible closure.

Mortimer said the master's degree program in public health will be retained, whatever happens to the school.

He acknowledged that the university has been considering moving public health into the medical school as a department because it lacks resources to maintain a separate school.

Open to alternatives

He said he's willing to listen to alternatives that might solve the public-health school's financial problems but solutions must come soon.

The accreditation council meets in June and the school can't be operated without accreditation, he said.

An agreement is being forged between the public-health school and the Health Department that may help but it hasn't reached him yet, he said.

The medical school has its own troubles, with operations costing about $82 million annually, Mortimer said. Of that, only $17 million is from the state, he said.

Mortimer said he suggested to the governor the idea of privatizing the medical school, but doesn't believe it's possible because the UH has no teaching hospital.

Various options -- including closing the medical school -- will have to be examined if state funding isn't increased, Mortimer said. "I have said repeatedly the status quo is not acceptable."

Despite uncertainty about the medical school, Mortimer said the university still is looking for a permanent dean and hopes to get it stabilized.

Neglect crippled UH-Manoa

Faculty: Manoa needs chancellor

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