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UHMC aims for student success with grant for Native Hawaiians

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   October 6th, 2010 · No Disqus Comments · Maui News

University of Hawai`i Maui College will expand programs in support of academic success for Native Hawaiian students through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education for Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye notified UH Maui College of the grant award last week. For the initial year, the award provides $799,990, with the program expected to provide $4 million over five years. The allocations are for curriculum development and faculty support in setting up extended services for Native Hawaiian students to achieve their academic goals in college and to graduate.

“I am very pleased that these funds will be used by the University of Hawai`i Maui College to develop culturally based curriculum and expand math and English course offerings for Native Hawaiian students,” Inouye said. “We must ensure that Native Hawaiian students are well equipped to take on the working world — and creating access to a quality college education is among the most important services government can provide.”

UHMC Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto credited newly appointed Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs John McKee, a principal investigator, for his role in grant development and in assisting Title III Project Director Ben Guerrero with this successful application. Guerrero said the initiative was designed by UH Maui College faculty and staff with three primary components:

• Providing both peer and online tutoring programs in English and math skills, with the culturally based mentoring Student Success Center.

• Establish a First Year Experience program to help first-time, full-time students to complete developmental coursework and transition to college-level English and math classes with a Second Year Experience program offering career exploration and transition advice and counseling.

• Expand UHMC offerings in Hawaiian culture, language and values as components of an additional educational option of an Associate of Arts degree in Hawaiian studies.

“With this award, the federal Department of Education recognizes the need to help a significant percentage of our students overcome inadequacies in their educational preparation and validates UH Maui College’s strategies for outreach and support of its students,” McKee said.

“The program design is a result of extensive discussion involving counselors, faculty, department chairs and staff to converge on techniques and processes that can effect long-term student achievement.”

In its letter of grant authorization, the Department of Education noted the largest ethnic grouping among 4,114 students enrolled at UHMC in 2009 was Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders at 30.2 percent – compared to 28.4 percent for Asian Americans and 27.3 percent for Caucasians. In 2009, a large number of the Native Hawaiian students at UHMC had weak test results on a Compass Placement exams but did not enroll in developmental English and math courses. Failure of students to take advantage of the developmental support is seen as a major factor in low graduation rates.

With the grant, Guerrero said UHMC will establish the Student Success Center in a new 2,000-square-foot building located near the campus health center. “This building will be called Kaiao – raising consciousness – and will be a Student Success Center open for Native Hawaiian and all other students to assist with developmental education through peer mentoring, tutoring services, academic and cultural support services to increase retention, persistence and graduation rates at UHMC,” Guerrero said.

Programs are designed to help students successfully navigate classroom requirements during each semester, advance to the next level of their coursework and finally to graduate.

“The purpose of the proposal is to address the problem of too low Native Hawaiian retention and persistence in math and English courses, and subsequent low graduation rates from the University of Hawai`i Maui College,” he said.

Retention refers to students completing coursework in a major each semester; persistence refers to students continuing in their major studies semester to semester to graduation.

“The opportunity to reverse the low retention and persistence rates and subsequent graduation rates among Hawaiian students by implementing the three activities is a boon to the College and will certainly provide even more role models of success in higher education for Native Hawaiians,” said Kiope Raymond, UHMC associate professor of Hawaiian Studies.

The Student Success Center will utilize an array of UHMC departments and programs including The Learning Center, UH Institutional Research Offices, Media Center/Computing Services Center, Lau`ulu Council and faculty and staff of the Math, English, Hawaiian Studies and Student Affairs departments.

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