No University is an Island

Hawaii Pacific University, a multi-campus university based on the island of Oahu, recently won the Pono Technology Award for its successful implementation of an academic technology plan that overcame both geographic and technological hurdles. The Pono Award recognizes Hawaiian organizations that successfully implement information technologies that improve the institution. Hawaii Pacific redesigned its campus information technology program, creating a solution that combines implementation of a campus portal to more efficiently transfer information, and a plan to take the university wireless within a couple of years.

Hawaii Pacific is spread over nine sites, and getting to each one is time-consuming. There are two primary campuses of HPU. The downtown campus is in central Honolulu and is much like any other urban campus in its layout. The Windward campus, tropical and suburban, covers 135 acres 15 miles from the downtown campus. In addition, HPU operates seven other facilities at military bases spread all over the island. According to J'e Schmiedl, HPU’s Assistant Dean for the Adult Service Center, HPU was wasting a lot of resources trying to connect the many sites through traditional means. “Because students may attend classes at any of our campuses, and because we need to share information from site to site, we were spending a great deal of time and energy providing services to each location.”

The university of 8,800 students and 1,200 employees had been relying on mail, flyers, and other printed materials to communicate with all of its “customers” at each site. After some research, HPU decided to move most of its services online, providing a friendly interface where all of the campus constituents could find information on an as-needed basis. HPU’s Chief Information Officer Justin Itoh calls this “self service,” a trend he has seen in technology implementation for some time. To provide the interface, HPU turned to Campus Pipeline, which created a custom portal called HPU Pipeline. The Campus Pipeline platform integrates with existing SIS systems and SCT, which produced HPU’s registration software.

Schmiedl notes that the Pipeline system frees up people who provide campus services such as the registration and financial aid staff, and gives them the capability to deliver services to students in a convenient, timely manner. “We reduced the time it takes to process grades by 11 days,” he says. “Now this happens much faster, giving students immediate access to their results, and helps us get information like the Dean’s list and suspension and probation lists faster to offices who need that information, like financial aid.”

Citing another example of the efficiency of the new system, Schmiedl points out that recently he was able to fill a campus staff position in three days rather than three weeks because he posted the vacancy online and response to the posting was immediate.

In addition to moving information more efficiently, the new system has helped HPU realize some cost savings in terms of printing, postage, and staff salaries, as less personnel time is taken up with the transfer of information.

Now that the university has a reliable online portal for disseminating course materials, it is venturing into online education in a big way. This fall HPU will offer its Associate of Science in Management degree program in a completely online format. This will be offered in addition to the regular on-campus program, which is identical in content and coverage. Instructors throughout the institution will also begin offering individual online courses that will utilize e-mail, chat rooms, and message boards. In addition, online resources that the university can funnel through the portal will save students a lot of off-island dial-in connection costs.

The university will conduct an assessment of the online offerings in October, examining every aspect of it, including the school’s ability to adequately deliver online student and library services. If the new online degree program is judged to be a success, HPU may offer similar degree programs in the future.

This fall HPU will take another giant leap when it implements a completely wireless system at its downtown campus. According to Itoh, this is a very important move that will better provide computer support to HPU students. “Our computer center d'esn’t adequately support our students’ needs,” he says. “Moving them all to a wireless environment allows us to support them all and eliminate the long wait for a computer .” In addition to Internet access, the wireless network will provide students with applications such as SPSS, System Architect, and Visual Studio—applications that are expensive for them to purchase individually.

“We’re very proud that we can now extend wireless access to non-public campus areas,” says Itoh, “freeing up our students to do their coursework wherever they’re most comfortable.”

For more information, contact J'e Schmiedl or Justin Itoh, jschmied@hpu.edu and jitoh@hpu.edu.

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