School dean uses
exam to make point

State law prohibits unaccredited colleges from disclosing in any "course catalog, promotional material or written contract for instruction" that they have applied for accreditation.

But the dean of the Hawaii College of Pharmacy appears to have devised a novel way to publish statements about the college's quest for accreditation, without relying on verboten publications.

Dean H.A. Hasan's chosen medium: A student exam.

The exam provides a written example of what officials of the troubled college told students about the school's accreditation status during the academic year. The state Office of Consumer Protection has sued the college, alleging, in part, that the college led students to believe the school was closer to receiving accreditation than it actually was. The college has denied the allegation. A hearing on a request by the state to freeze the for-profit college's assets is scheduled for today in state Circuit Court in Honolulu.

Hasan gave the exam to students last winter after the startup college encountered problems with the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education of Chicago. In January, the council asked Hawaii College of Pharmacy to withdraw its application for accreditation, rather than revise and resubmit it.

Some students have said they were troubled by the council's move because they thought the school was on track toward accreditation.

Hasan subsequently used the exam, in a communications class he taught, to denote the council's move as an act of coercion.

Question No. 20 of the exam begins with a two-paragraph description of the college's ill-fated application to the council. It ends saying: "The (council) board was unhappy with (how the school began admitting students before getting preliminary accreditation) and chose not to provide the college the same respect and dignity afforded the other schools not receiving a site visit. This was an example of: A. Coercive Power; B. Reward Power; C. Legitimate Power; D. Referent Power; E. Expert Power."

The correct answer was "Coercive Power."

Jeff Wadelin, who is in charge of accreditation for the council, declined to comment about the exam's assertion that the council had used coercive power against the college.

Gerald Kato, chairman of the University of Hawaii's School of Communications, said the exam question did not seem appropriate for a graduate-level communications class.

"I can't see any intelligent person reading that and not seeing it for what it is," Kato said. "It has nothing to do with the act of communication other than to communicate the school's particular propaganda."

But in a written statement yesterday, Hasan said that the "question must be evaluated in the very specific context of the extensive in-class discussions, started by students, concerning the decision by the (council) on the College's accreditation proposal...

"This decision was discussed in detail by our students, who came to the conclusion that this was a real-life example of some of the abstract concepts they were learning in class."

Concerning the state law's prohibition against unaccredited schools publishing statements that they had applied for accreditation, Hasan said the college believes the law does not apply "to post graduate educational institutions such as the College, either in the letter or the spirit."

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