To combat a deficit, HPU cuts classes, lecturers - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

To combat a deficit, HPU cuts classes, lecturers

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Just a month after laying off some administrative staff to save money, Hawaii Pacific University is cutting some part-time faculty and reducing the number of classes offered to try to get rid of an operating deficit.

An HPU spokesman confirmed Tuesday the university lost money last school year, but he would not say how much they were in the red. 

And as HPU begins its re-accreditation process, the school needs to have a financial surplus or at least break even in the upcoming year, to avoid sanctions from the Western Association of Schools of Colleges. 

Some students are already noticing cutbacks. 

"Definitely from last year, the classes, they seem to be less of them and less variety.  I've also noticed some of the professors I've had in the past, I don't see them on the staff roster," said Chris Tillman, an HPU senior from Kaneohe who left the Marine Corps in 2011.   

HPU said it has eliminated about 60 sections of courses, equal to less than two percent of its classes.  

And the school is cutting some adjunct or part-time faculty, but not laying off any of its full-time professors. 

"Everybody around the university has been through belt tightening.  Academic units have been asked to look closely at what they are doing to achieve savings as well," said Todd Simmons, vice president of marketing and communications for HPU.  "As enrollment declined over the last several years, we maintained the same number of classes. That's not a very efficient operation." 

"If they start cutting it back and the classes aren't available, I'd be very worried," Tillman, an HPU business administration major said. "I'd almost be glad that I'm graduating.  But unfortunately, I don't want others to be coming behind me, like, oh, this is horrible." 

Last month, HPU laid off nearly two dozen administrative staffers in a cost-cutting move, a move school officials said came because HPU's enrollment has fallen by more than six percent in recent years. 

Jason Hirose of Moanalua, an HPU sophomore majoring in economics, supported his school's cutbacks. 

"If it keeps the university accredited and the quality of education doesn't suffer, I think that's a good thing. I think we can still provide a quality education to the students but not necessarily have as many classes that aren't needed," Hirose said. 

HPU managers in charge of some programs have been given just a few days to come up with budget reductions, sources said. 

HPU faculty members who received roughly 3-percent cost-of-living pay hikes, even during the recession, are getting smaller raises this year, only about two percent. 

"We are taking necessary steps to manage the university effectively and efficiently as we maintain the academic integrity of the university," HPU's Simmons said. 

Just last week, HPU sold $42 million in special-purpose revenue bonds for expansion of its facilities at Aloha Tower, but that money can only be used to plan for and carry out construction not to pay HPU's operating expenses. 

Simmons said while some professors and students are "anxious" about the cutbacks, there is still a strong faculty-to-student ratio of one professor for every 15 students at HPU. 

"We are re-tooling and making it a leaner and better university," Simmons said.

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