My Agenda Number 7: Advancing UH and Hawai’i Higher Education

article top

BY CONGRESSMAN ED CASE (D-2002-2007) – The University of Hawai’i is not only our statewide public higher education system but an economic, social and cultural pillar of Hawai’i. 60,000 students (85% from Hawai’i) are enrolled today on three university and seven community college campuses on six islands, and 130,000 current alums are contributing to their communities in all fifty states (including 90,000 in Hawai’i) and over eighty countries, especially throughout the Asia-Pacific.

We must advance UH wherever and however possible to achieve Hawaii’s goals of assuring a quality higher education to all citizens and pursuing our leadership role in this Asia-Pacific century. I stand ready to work with anyone as Hawaii’s next U. S. Senator to make that happen over the next generation.


One key partner is the University of Hawai’i Professional Assembly, representing over 4,000 UH faculty. I am grateful to UHPA for endorsing my Senate candidacy based on my agenda for advancing UH.

I shared my agenda with UHPA members in a recent letter, which is provided in full below my signature. Here’s an outline of the ten points I made there:

(1) I believe in education, in public education, in higher education and in the University of Hawai’i.

(2) This is a critical election, the outcome of which will impact our country, Hawai’i and UH for a generation.

(3) A good Senator can serve the UH community on multiple levels.

(4) Maintaining and expanding federal funding for UH is key and can be achieved.

(5) Federal support to ensure an affordable education for all is key.

(6) UH community collective bargaining rights must be protected.

(7) All-encompassing federal standards should be resisted.

(8) I believe in the growth of UH statewide.

(9) I believe in a far broader and more widely integrated role for UH throughout Hawai’i.

(10) I believe in a full partnership with UH generally and UHPA specifically.

My agenda applies equally to our other Hawai’s higher education partners, who continue to expand their own educational service and economic and social influence. Hawai’i Pacific University now enrolls 8,400, with a third foreign students and 30,000 degrees awarded since its founding. Brigham Young University-Hawai’i and Chaminade enroll 2,800 each, with BYUH having the highest enrollment of foreign students nationally at 43%. Hawaii Tokai International provides mostly Japan nationals an American education closer to home. And business colleges such as Argosy, Heald, Remington and University of Phoenix provide professional education both for our folks and for others who want to be educated in Hawai’i.

Each and all of these institutions not only expand and diversify the higher education opportunities for our citizens and others. They are also economic drivers of our state and the communities in which they locate because they provide good jobs and because students from elsewhere bring their money here to spend on a Hawai’i education (and, for many, stay on to themselves contribute). And they drive future opportunities, especially throughout the Asia-Pacific, because so many educated here return home to lead their communities and maintain their economic and cultural ties with Hawai’i.

We’ve only begun to realize the true potential of UH and of higher education in Hawai’i. With strong effective leadership from all sectors, including our federal government, we will be able to achieve a critical mass of full educational, economic and broader opportunity within the next generation.


[UHPA Letter]

March 2012

University of Hawai’i Professional Assembly
1017 Palm Drive
Honolulu, HI 96814

Dear UHPA Member:

I am deeply grateful for UHPA’s endorsement of my candidacy to serve our country, Hawai’i, the University of Hawai’i, UHPA and you and yours as your next United States Senator. If elected, I will do my utmost to earn the trust and confidence you have placed in me.

I wanted to share with you a summary of my discussion with UHPA’s Political Endorsement Committee and further information on me and my candidacy. These ten points do not, of course, address all of the issues of importance to you and UHPA, and I want you to know up front that I welcome your questions and suggestions on any matter.

1. I believe in education, in public education, in higher education and in the University of Hawai’i. To start at the foundation, I believe that our country was built on our commitment to the education of all, that education generally and higher education specifically are the key to both our continued success in an increasingly competitive world and the maintenance of our social fabric and compact, and that public education is a core function of government and our obligation to each other. I believe in the University of Hawaii’s central role in not only assuring the benefits of a high quality public higher education to Hawaii’s people and others, but in serving as an economic and social pillar for Hawai’i. My beliefs are not just abstract, because I have personally benefited from a first-rate public and private education, and, like many others, my family’s own history is interwoven with UH through alums such as my grandfather, A. H. Case (B.S. ’17, President of ASUH), mother, Suzanne Case (B.A. ’59, M.L.S. ’69), stepson David Ansdell (JABSOM ’11), and son David (B.A. projected ’13).

2. This is a critical election, the outcome of which will impact our country, Hawai’i and UH for a generation.First, any U. S. Senate election in any state under any circumstances is a major election for that state, because a good Senator can get so much done for his or her stateand its institutions and people; see as an example the work of Sens. Inouye and Akaka over the last decades. But second, what makes this an election of generational consequence for Hawai’i is that our next Senator may well serve a full generation and, in time, assume the responsibilities of leading our congressional delegation as senior Senator. And third, our country is in dire need of strong, effective, inclusive leadership in Congress generally and the Senate specifically, and so this election is in part about Hawai’i choosing a national leader who can get the job done not just for Hawai’i but for country and world.

3. A good Senator can serve the UH community on multiple levels. The ways in which a U. S. Senator can assist UH to fulfill its expanding mission are many and varied. The primary means is wise national policy that strengthens our economy (as the main generator of public higher education financial support and jobs for UH community members and graduates) and maintains a strong federal commitment to higher education generally. Of course, steering federal funding and other assistance to UH is also important, especially in the years of budget constraints ahead. But a Senator can also look for and steer public and private opportunities to UH, especially in the expanding Asia-Pacific region and in expanding areas of federal involvement like green energy. And a Senator can also advocate for UH on specific issues, as with my years-long effort while U. S. Congressman to relocate a state-of-the-art laser from Duke Univ. to UH.

4. Maintaining and expanding federal funding for UH is key and can be achieved. There is no question that our national budget crisis will pressure critical federal funding of higher education generally and UH specifically for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean funding for UH has to decline if we all work harder and smarter and together. First, again, on a national level we must both grow our economy to generate revenues, reform our tax code to restore fairness, and prioritize higher education among federal funding options. Second, focusing on federally funded research and development is a top priority as that is the most direct means to maintain and increase a federal financial investment in UH, especially in areas where UH and Hawai’i are naturally well suited such as the physical sciences, alternate energy, tropical and subtropical agriculture, and the Pacific.

5. Federal support to ensure an affordable education for all is key. The national trend toward an increasingly unaffordable higher education and increasingly unsustainable debt load for graduates is in fact driving too many away from higher education and must be reversed. This starts like many other roads with growing our economy and creating good jobs, and continues with protecting and strengthening key federal initiatives such as the Pell Grants and American Opportunity Tax Credit. President Obama’s latest proposals to further limit required loan repayments to a percentage of income, promote loan consolidation and provide greater upfront loan disclosure should be adopted. We must also look at more innovative approaches such as that under consideration by the University of California to depart from the traditional pay-as-you-go approach for a post-graduate percentage of income payment approach.

6. UH community collective bargaining rights must be protected. Growing federal and state initiatives to strip away or weaken collective bargaining rights must be resisted. This is in part a direct effort to protect key federal laws assuring those rights. But it can also be indirect, such as making wise decisions on the confirmation of federal executive and judicial nominations, a uniquely Senate responsibility.

7. All-encompassing federal standards should be resisted. There is a disturbing trend in federal involvement in both lower and higher education for DC to lay down detailed requirements applicable nationwide as conditions of federal funding or other assistance. Some are appropriate, but too many do not account for state and local differences and too often, purposefully or otherwise, interfere with collective bargaining rights and local laws and understandings. Examples are proposals to link funding to objective grade, graduation and other criteria or to specific professional review standards and procedures, and must be corrected.

8. I believe in the growth of UH statewide. UH as Hawaii’s state public higher education system requires a physical presence throughout Hawaii, not just as a matter of delivering higher education to students where they live and work (especially given the growth of Leeward O’ahu and the Neighbor Islands as compared to central Honolulu), but of anchoring economic growth and assuring employment opportunities outside of O’ahu. This is in part about directing federal funding, assistance and other opportunities systemwide, and about growing distance learning capabilities in rural areas where a full physical presence is not feasible.

9. I believe in a far broader and more widely integrated role for UH throughout Hawai’i. In the model past (and perhaps in too many areas still), UH was responsible for higher education, existed in its own stovepiped world and was essentially expected to stick to its business. That’s just not going to work for UH or Hawai’i in coming decades. What must and will work is far more interrelationships and integration throughout the principal sectors of Hawai’i including business, defense, scientific, foreign and other communities, because that integration produces a “whole greater than the sum total of its parts”. A Senator can assist by looking for, forging and fostering those opportunities, especially as all stovepipes lead to him or her!

10. I believe in a full partnership with UH generally and UHPA specifically. The relationship between a U. S. Senator and the people and institutions he or she represents should be (and for me has been and will be) that of a full partnership. Any good partnership starts with a common mission, thrives on frequent, open, two-way communication, relies on a clear understanding of respective roles and responsibilities, and achieves with sustained and coordinated effort. As your Senator, my main role would be to assure that our federal government is contributing all it can to our mission, which is realizing and maintaining the full potential of UH. I don’t and cannot know all of the details of exactly what UH needs to get there nor exactly how our federal government can assist; that requires an ongoing dialogue with all parts of the UH community including UHPA and an ongoing mutual joint effort. I would truly look forward to such a partnership with UHPA.

I invite you to review my website at for more information on me, my record, my agenda and my positions. Again, if you don’t find the information there that you need, please let us know. And please remember that a video of part of my UHPA interview and other information on my endorsement is

I need your active help. I’m deeply thankful to UHPA for your endorsement, but what ultimately matters is translating that support into action. I ask for your own individual action and that of your family, friends, colleagues and circles in assisting my candidacy for strong, effective, inclusive leadership in our U. S. Senate. Details on joining our campaign ‘ohana today, from contributing to volunteering and more, are on my website. And, of course, I humbly ask for your vote on election day.

Again, I’m so grateful for your endorsement and consideration and hope to earn your full support. I truly look forward to working with you and yours in the years and decades ahead.

Warm aloha,

Ed Case