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UH West Oʻahu chosen for project that explores equity for transfer students


Image courtesy of UHWO Communications Department

The University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu was selected to participate in a new project focused on understanding the barriers to equity in opportunity and outcomes for transfer students.

The project is sponsored by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) in partnership with Sova, which is leading the execution of the project, and with funding by a grant from the ECMC Foundation.

“WSCUC has partnered with Sova to conduct a deep investigation of issues of (in)equity for transfer student populations in hopes of improving processes that can facilitate transfer student success,” said Alan Rosenfeld, UH West Oʻahu’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Accreditation Liaison Officer.

Rosenfeld said UH West O‘ahu is honored to be chosen by WSCUC as one of four institutions of higher education to participate, along with the University of California, Los Angeles; California State University, Bakersfield; and the University of La Verne in California.

The purpose of the year-long project is to understand the history, progress, barriers, and opportunities baccalaureate-granting institutions face as they seek to improve outcomes and close equity gaps for transfer students, and to identify how the accreditation process can support institutions in achieving transfer student success.

“The exciting thing about this project, particularly when one considers that WSCUC is currently revising the standards and criteria it uses to evaluate member institutions, is that it suggests a strong likelihood of an increased emphasis on transfer student success moving forward, even in the realm of accreditation,” Rosenfeld said.

He continued, “In other words, it appears that institutions will be more closely evaluated according to their ability to support their transfer students — and not just on the success of students who matriculate to four-year colleges directly out of high school — in the years ahead.”

UH West Oʻahu’s participation in the project is valuable as it is a unique institution in many ways, one of which consists of a deeply rooted foundational emphasis on transfer students, Rosenfeld said.

“In fact, for the first 31 years of our existence, we served transfer students exclusively, offering a curriculum that only consisted of upper-division courses,” he said. “Even today, the vast majority of UH West O‘ahu graduates first come to us as transfer students, particularly from the University of Hawai‘i Community Colleges (UHCC).”

Rosenfeld continued, “By assisting Sova with this WSCUC-sponsored project, UH West O‘ahu is participating in conversations to spark changes in policies and practices at the regional and national levels that will promote equity in the treatment of transfer students and remove unnecessary obstacles that impede transfer student success.”

According to WSCUC, project goals include identifying strategies and opportunities for shaping successful support systems for transfer students to achieve equitable outcomes, understanding the barriers that both students and institutions face, identifying the issues impacting equity and persistence, and identifying the role of accreditation in supporting institutional and transfer student success.

Rosenfeld also added, “UH West Oʻahu Chancellor Maenette Benham established a fabulous campus team to participate in this project, consisting of faculty and staff members who possess relevant and direct experience working with our UHCC sister campuses and supporting transfer students here at UH West O‘ahu.”

Project team members are Rosenfeld; Larry Andres, Student Success Advisor; Bradley Ashburn, Associate Professor of Chemistry; Joshua Kaakua, Academic Program Office (UHCC System Office); Anuhea Piliere, Academic Support, Kelaka‘a Ho‘ona ‘Auo Title III Grant; Linda Randall, Professor of Management and Business Administration Division Chair; and Pearlena Stone, Secretary to the Chancellor. In addition, John Stanley and Christi Palacat with the Institutional Research Office are providing requested data sets to Sova.

Image courtesy of UHWO Communications Department