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Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: Sept. 2010

Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce
Sept. 2010

UH Hilo’s College of Business and Economics

One of the ways the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo meets the needs of Hawai‘i island is by preparing future members of the business community. More than ever, our fragile economy demands that knowledge of business practices and economics be widely distributed throughout the island. In addition, we need to prepare students for the workforce–not just for jobs (though these are critical) but also for careers.

UH Hilo’s College of Business and Economics (CoBE) seeks to meet these needs through its programs of study and, by meeting the rigorous standards set by its accrediting association, the college can assure the public that its programs are of the highest quality.

Quality Assurance through Special Accreditation

CoBE is able to document the high quality of its BBA programs through its maintenance of accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB International). The college earned initial accreditation in 2005.

Within the state only UH Hilo and UH Mānoa’s Shidler College of Business have attained this internationally recognized accreditation. Accredited colleges undergo a lengthy process of self evaluation and extensive scrutiny, including onsite visits, by teams of experts.

Some established business programs at other universities have had to struggle to achieve and maintain accreditation from AACSB International.

This accreditation certifies that CoBE meets 21 rigorous standards assuring a challenging, up-to-date curriculum and a commitment to continuous improvement. Faculty must be active in their field and remain current in their knowledge. A degree from an AACSB-accredited school is widely recognized as excellent preparation for the workplace or graduate study.

Continuous Improvement

CoBE practices continuous improvement through assessment activities, which include measuring student progress in achieving learning goals and assessing student satisfaction.

Assessment practices led CoBE to create an upper division, writing-intensive course to improve writing skills. Assessment also prompted CoBE to offer its College Fair, directly linking our students with community businesses and organizations for internship and job placement as well as career planning.


CoBE offers majors in general management, accounting and economics. The general management program is UH Hilo’s largest major. The accounting major started in Fall 2008 and already has 60 student majors. Taken together, general management and accounting enroll approximately 10% of all UH Hilo undergraduates.

For those who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in an area other than business, CoBE also offers a certificate program in business administration. Comprised of seven courses in such areas as accounting and marketing, the certificate provides a well balanced, up-to-date foundation of business knowledge.

In addition, UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College have established a Degree Pathways Partnership, allowing students who began their business education at the community college to make a seamless transition to CoBE’s business administration program.
CoBE also provides informal learning opportunities through its speaker series, which is free and open to the public. Speakers have included local entrepreneur Allan Ikawa of Big Island Candies on entrepreneurship, Darren Kimura on solar energy technology, and UH Mānoa Professor Emeritus Seiji Naya on income distribution and poverty alleviation for the Native Hawaiian community. Mayor Billy Kenoi will be the next speaker in the series September 16 at 3:30 pm in the Ho‘oulu Terrace (UCB 127).

Future Growth

CoBE is discussing its future direction for growth and new programs. We plan to extend the bachelor of business administration degree to one or more sites on the island. There may also be potential to develop programmatically in partnership with UH Hilo’s College of Pharmacy. CoBE welcomes input from the business community about how best to meet future needs.

In addition, the college is looking forward to moving into prime space on campus. Because a new building for the Division of Student Affairs will be constructed this year, CoBE will be able to move into the existing Student Services Building. Ever mindful of the need to use the learning environment to enhance students’ career skills, the college is making plans to assign space in the new building for students to work in groups and for state-of-the-art technology.

Donald Straney
Chancellor, UH Hilo