Chancellor’s Welcome Back, Spring 2015

Chancellor’s Welcome Back, Spring 2015

Dear Kapi‘olani Community College ‘Ohana,

The theme for this semester’s faculty and staff convocation was “Student Engagement, Student Learning, Student Success: Past, Present and Future”.

All faculty, staff, and administrators are essential to ensuring student engagement, student learning, and student success. Some work directly with students and others behind the scenes but we all have an important role in the lives of our students. Their success is, and always has been, the primary purpose for Kapi‘olani CC.

Allow me to reflect on some of the innovative initiatives and committed people at KCC that have worked diligently and creatively to fulfill this purpose.

When I think of the past, the Koa Gallery comes to mind. When KCC was moving from its Pensacola Street campus and the new buildings were being considered at the Diamond Head campus, the surrounding communities were asked what they wanted to see at the College. Art was one of the predominant requests. This was the inspiration for the Koa building, to encourage student learning through art and creativity and to feature the work of students, faculty and professionals in the Gallery.

The celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Hawai‘i’s Community Colleges in November reminded me that KCC is part of a rich past motivated by the hard work of many who came before us. As part of the celebration, “50 Finest” were honored at the Gala. The “50 Finest” referred to 50 people and programs across the community college system that had made a significant impact. The honorees from Kapi‘olani Community College were Linda Fujikawa, Mona Lee, Joan Matsukawa, Sanae Moikeha, Betsy Sakata, Patricia Snyder, Moriso Teraoka, myself, and as a Rising Star, KCC’s STEM program. This list highlights KCC’s past attainments, present accomplishments, and the possibilities for future achievements.

Of course, the present is full of initiatives and programs that continue to promote student engagement, student learning, student success. The process of student engagement and student learning starts before students arrive at KCC. Sheldon Tawata has been the force behind Early College, bringing KCC’s college courses to Kaimukī High School since the fall of 2013. In academic year 2013-2014, approximately 40 students, and in 2014-2015 over 50 students, were taking KCC courses while still enrolled at Kaimukī High School. This is a major increase in participation from 2012-2013 where only about 12 students were in Running Start – a dual enrollment program that allows high school students to take college courses at KCC. While many of these students matriculate to KCC, the more important outcome is giving students, who may not have thought of college as an option, the confidence to go beyond what they thought was possible.

Other programs that help students before coming to KCC are iCan, Jump Start and, as already mentioned, Running Start. In Jump Start, high school students can enroll in KCC’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and in Running Start, high school students can enroll in Arts and Sciences courses. iCan is a free and fast-track career and workforce certification program designed to help improve reading, writing, math, computer and successful work-related skills in preparation for a new career.

Once the students decide to apply KCC, the Kekaulike Information and Service Center (KISC), Registrar Jerilynn Enokawa (formerly Lorenzo) and her staff ensure that they are registered and receive appropriate services. For example, KISC provides information and assistance with scholarships, financial aid and graduation.

One of the scholarships offered to students is the Lunalilo Scholars Project. This program, led by LaVache Scanlan, helps students who may not have attended college otherwise. The Lunalilo Scholars Project, started in August 2012, provides tuition, books, mentoring and support to at-risk students for one year and is funded by an outside donor. The program has been very successful with 48 out of 52 participants completing their first year of college. Three out of the 18 that were in the first cohort have graduated. It is too early to know the graduation rates for the second cohort but we expect a steady growth in the number of graduates in the spring.

KCC’s Student Services area has done a great job counseling students and implementing programs like STAR, which helps students create their academic plan and directs them toward graduation. Starfish, which will be implemented in the spring, is an early alert system for students who may be struggling academically. In addition, a Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) is being formed to provide intervention to students who may be struggling.

There are many other support services for students such as the Native Hawaiian Student Success and International Café, and student clubs like Phi Theta Kappa that mentor and guide students while in College. The Board of Student Publications produces two journals each year: Ka Hue Anahā, the journal of academic & research writing and ‘Upena o Kū, the journal of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Once the students are in classes they have so much to choose from. Whether it’s creating a children’s book with Kawehi Sellers or assisting in the Monoclonal Antibody Development Lab with John Berestecky; the inspiration is endless. Also, if we feel like watching some good TV, we can continue to learn how to cook with Grant Sato on What’s Cooking Hawai‘i?

All of these initiatives are adeptly supported by Library and Learning Resources and CELTT. If you have a problem, Lance Akana on the Help Desk is there to come to the rescue.

Some might think, “What can we possibly do to top all this?” The answer is, a lot more. Even with the tightening of the budget, many initiatives are being funded by the Title III grant managed by interim Title III coordinator Kelli Goya and Lehua Gaison-Tyler. Under Title III, you will see great things happening with the Queen Kapi‘olani Student Success Campus-wide Initiative chaired by Veronica Ogata. Many ideas are being generated and you will see the fruits of their labor soon. There will be renovations across the campus, Kopiko being the first renovation. For those of you who were and will be displaced by the renovations, I thank you for your patience. In addition to the Title III renovations, you will soon be seeing new water fountains in the library and other areas funded by Student Congress.

The previous Title III grant funded the purchase of the software programs Dell KACE Systems Management and Taskstream. KACE will assist the College in centralized technology asset management and Taskstream will be managing student learning outcomes assessment. Both systems are operational and in piloting stages. Open Educational Resources (OER) is a response to the high cost of textbooks. OER will provide shared teaching and learning materials made freely available online.

Another exciting new pilot project is the Project Olonā. This project is funded by the Kamehameha Schools to engage students in STEM related subjects through local plant-based research. One part of the research will be to discover potential healing properties of traditional medicinal plants.

All of these initiatives are being brought together by our Strategic Plan 2015-2021, which is in development and managed by Bob Franco. With all that is going on at KCC, it is important for all of us to be aware of how our rich and varied initiatives are integrated into the Strategic Plan. In the weeks and months to come, we will continue to ask ourselves, based on the data, if what we are doing is truly helping student engagement, student learning, student success.

Hawai‘i Papa O Ke Ao is a plan to make the University of Hawai‘i a leader in indigenous education with recommendations for leadership development, community engagement and Hawaiian language and cultural parity. These recommendations are being reviewed and discussed by Kalāualani for implementation at KapCC.

As we begin the New Year, I have been reflecting on the College and the many ways the College serves its students. You go beyond what’s expected and add so much to KCC’s culture. As we grow and evolve, I encourage all of you to reach out to your colleagues and work together so that we continue to provide the highest quality of instruction and services to ensure student engagement, student learning, student success.


Leon Richards

Kapi‘olani Community College x