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January - Palikir, Pohnpei


January 28, 2004

To: All Regents, Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni,Community Patrons, and our Valued College Friends & Supporters

From: Dr. Michael Tatum, President

Subject: Update from the President's Office - No. 226


The College of Micronesia-FSM is well on it’s way into the Year 2004!  Last year seemed to pass at a fast and furious pace, and in the process we were able to accomplish many things. 

The Self-Study and Upcoming Accreditation Visit

Paramount in our accomplishments was the completion of our Self-Study in preparation for our scheduled March 2004 accreditation visit by representative of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).  The College owes a deep debt of gratitude to a number of key faculty and staff who led the way in seeing that we met crucial deadlines and making sure that the Self-Study was submitted on-time.  I would be truly remiss if I didn’t thank Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO) Dana Leeling for his valiant leadership in this effort, and for the unselfish work and long hours contributed by Dayle Dannis, Jonathan Gourlay, Norma Edwin, Spensin James, Ringlen Ringlen, Faustino Yarofaisug, Arlene Dumantay, Howard Rice, Linda Maradol, Dale Griffith, Sue Moses, our State Campus Directors, and a whole host of other selfless, dedicated people. 

Outside the College Community, I don’t believe many people realize the hundreds and even thousands of hours that are required in planning, conducting, tabulating, writing, reviewing, and completing a Self-Study for accreditation.  It is not a task for the weak of heart.  I can only compare it to a physical examination where each cell of the body is examined in minute detail.  It is a process that requires absolute transparency, honesty, and integrity, all performed under a high-powered microscope that seeks to find both the strengths and weaknesses of the institution.  Neither the Self-Study or the accreditation visit are rubber stamps and neither should be taken lightly. – I am most proud to say that we have worked hard and diligently and have done a good job, and we are prepared for the upcoming accreditation visit.

The WASC Accreditation Team will converge on Pohnpei from two directions.  Dr. Marie Smith, the Team Leader, will visit the Yap Campus and the COM-FSM Fisheries and Maritime Institute before arriving in Pohnpei, while Assistant Team Leader Robert Allegre will evaluate the Chuuk Campus.  Dr. Eva Conrad and Dr. Erlinda Martinez will travel via the “Island Hopper” and will visit the Kosrae Campus.  The other members of the team, Mr. Chandulal Brahmbhatt, Dr. Darla Cooper, Mr. Ron Manzoni, and Dr. Louise Pagotto, will come directly to Pohnpei for their visits and evaluations of the Pohnpei Campus and the National Campus.  All of our communications with the team have been extremely positive.  We are looking forward to a positive visit and learning from their experience and guidance how we can continue to improve in our delivery of post-secondary education to the students and people of the FSM and this region of the Pacific.  It is only through the process of Self-Study and evaluation that we can truly move towards continued excellence in what we do.

The FY 2005 Budget

The FY 2005 Budget has been completed and submitted to FSM President Joseph J. Urusemal’s office.  Once again, a team effort has culminated in an excellent job.  Led by COM-FSM Comptroller Danny Dumantay, the Finance Committee worked hard and long hours to come up with a balanced budget. – Currently the College has been involved in a series of hearings with the FSM Budget Committee.  We remain confident that the FSM Congress will be supportive of our submission, realizing the important role that the College plays in the future of the FSM. 

Truly, if the FSM is to rise and take it’s rightful place among the nations of the world, the College of Micronesia-FSM must be adequately supported financially.  The reality that must be faced is a simple one:  The College is the only entity in the FSM that must be competitive, and is the only entity that must be accredited.  In order to compete with other colleges and universities, and in order to maintain our accreditation, the College must receive adequate financial support from the FSM.  Currently, our two main competitors, the College of the Marshall Islands and Palau Community College, support their students and colleges at a rate that is double the rate we are able to budget.  This trend must change if the College of Micronesia-FSM is to remain a viable post-secondary institution.

The College of Micronesia-FSM is truly the “Gem” and a showplace that the citizens of the FSM can be proud of.  We sincerely thank His Excellency President Urusemal for his support of our efforts in attaining adequate financial backing from the FSM.

The Endowment Club

It is now official!  There is a new club at the National Campus.  The Endowment Club was recently founded by Pelma Palik (Manager of the Business Office, National Campus) and Martin Mingii (Manager of the Bookstore).  The club has started by recruiting participation from faculty and staff at the National Campus, but will soon be looking to start extension clubs at each of the State campuses.  Membership and participation in the club will be open to faculty, staff, students, and community patrons.  Look for more information in forthcoming Updates.  In the meanwhile, contact Pelma or Martin for more details on how you can become involved.

Personnel News

The latest news from the Office of Personnel advises of the following new hires:         

Rose Joel, Clerk Typist III, Peer Counseling, National Campus

Merly Nelson, SS Assistant I, National Campus

Moses Faimau, Maintenance Worker, Yap Campus

Julie Waathan, SSS I, Peer Counseling, Yap Campus

Shirley Jano, English Instructor, Pohnpei Campus

Timothy Franklin, Maintenance Worker II, Pohnpei Campus


We welcome each of these new employees to our College of Micronesia-FSM family!  Please take time to make each of our new COM-FSM family members feel welcome.

Australia Day

A reception to mark Australia Day was held at the Australian Chancery on January 26th.  Many COM-FSM faculty, staff, and representatives of the administration were on hand for the event.  We salute and thank the Country of Australia for their contributions to the College and to the students of the FSM.  Special thanks goes to Ambassador and Mrs. Doran and the entire staff of the Australian Embassy for their on-going support and friendship as they share with us our vision of what the FSM can be with through strong support of the College.

US Embassy – US Department of the Interior Visits

In the latter part of January we were visited by US Ambassador Larry Dinger and Mr. Howard Krawidz representing the US State Department.  Mr. Krawidz was interested in visiting the National Campus and learning about the Mission of the College.  A tour of the campus was hosted and a proactive, productive meeting followed. – The next week we were visited by Mr. Vic Hobson, representing the US Department of the Interior.  The primary purpose of Mr. Hobson’s visit was to gather data on current US Federal programs that the College is participating in. – We thank Ambassador Dinger, Mr. Krawidz, and Mr. Hobson for their on-going interest in the College of Micronesia-FSM and for being friends of the College.  Thanks!

The New Faculty Office Building

If in the past week or so you have seen an “ant like trail” of faculty and staff moving boxes and furniture between the old Faculty Offices and the new Faculty Office Building, it is because the new Faculty Office Building is now officially open and is being fully occupied.  The result has been a lot of happy faces as they have moved into their new “digs” and have begun to get settled.  If you weren’t on hand for the Grand Tour when the building was dedicated, you need to take the time and drop by for a visit.  I am sure that any of the proud new occupants will be glad to accommodate you.

News from Chuuk

Currently, the Chuuk Campus is in a state of flux.  In order to meet accreditation requirements a number of steps are being taken in tandem:

ü     Enrollments have been minimized so that the current campus site in Chuuk is not over-burdened and stays within the allowable capacities of the facility.
ü     Improvements are currently underway under the direction of our Maintenance Department to provide a safer campus and to provide more classrooms, restrooms, and library facilities.
ü     The Board of Regents and the administration continues to work on all that needs to be done in order to possibly acquire the Chuuk Star Hotel as a future site for the Chuuk Campus.  Funding for this venture is currently one of the big stumbling blocks.  The College remains hopeful that the FSM Congress will help in this regard.


The College’s TRIO Programs continue to “Hit Home Runs” with their student programs.  COM-FSM is fortunate to have a full compliment of TRIO Programs that are spread across our campus system.  I recently had the opportunity to spend an entire afternoon with Mr. Larry Oxendine, Director of Federal TRIO Programs.  Mr. Oxendine is a tireless advocate of ensuring equal access to education and promoting educational excellence, and in his role closely monitors educational trends, especially as they relate to TRIO.  In our visit, Mr. Oxendine expressed his support of continued TRIO programming in the FSM, emphasizing the importance of programs remaining responsible and accountable in delivery of their programs to their students.  I assured Mr. Oxendine that our TRIO Programs are indeed living up to the high standards and expectations that are expected of all TRIO Programs.

It should be noted that our TRIO Programs produce success stories every year.  A typical example can be seen in the number of TRIO students participating in COM-FSM graduations, as was demonstrated in the 38th Commencement Exercises in December which featured eleven (11) TRIO students, one of which was the co-valedictorian. To the TRI Programs credit,  TRIO alumni continuously find themselves being named as scholarship recipients, on Dean’s Lists, and as college graduates as they continue with their educations.  I congratulate all of the Directors and Staff of our TRIO Programs for the fine work that they are doing in preparing the young people of the FSM for college educations.  Thank you!

Note:  Federal TRIO Programs are provided as part of Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965 to provide support services targeting disadvantaged students in order to prepare them for post-secondary education.  The College of Micronesia-FSM hosts the following TRIO Programs:  Talent Search Program (TSP), Upward Bound, Student Support Services, and GEAR-UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs).

COM-FSM Land Grant News

The Land Grant operations at each of our campuses have begun a new year with lots of activity.  Research activities are continuing to move ahead at each of the State campuses.  With the New Year, a Retirement Luncheon was held at the Cliff Rainbow for now retired Vice President of COM-FSM Land Grant Yasuo Yamada.  The event was well attended by both faculty and staff.  Many friends and colleagues of Yasuo stepped forward to tell stories about past accomplishments and praise Yasuo.  Of most memorable mention was the contribution made by Harvey Segal when he had Yasuo and everyone at the luncheon standup and do a hula dance and a sing-along. – We are grateful to Yasuo for all of his contributions to our great College.  I am sure that Yasuo will continue to be active in his support of the College and that we will be seeing him on-campus frequently.  Attention Pelma and Martin:  Hmmm . . . I am betting that you can put Yasuo to work in promoting community participation in the Endowment Club.  What do you think?

AES and CES Land Grant activities continue to serve as capacity and nation builders as Land Grant and the College continue to reach out to our communities.

ACCJC-WASC Commissioner Nomination

At a meeting held recently in Honolulu at the offices of PREL (Pacific Resources for Education and Learning), the presidents of the Pacific Region voted unanimously to support the recommendation made by the ACCJC-WASC (Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges-Western Association of Schools and Colleges) that Susan Moses be confirmed for a second term as a Commissioner.  This is good news for the region and for our College.  Sue has done an exemplary and stellar job as a commissioner.  Congratulations to Sue as she continues to represent the colleges and universities of our region as a commissioner for the ACCJS-WASC.

Other ACCJC-WASC News- The Proposed B.Ed. Degree

In the past week I had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Barbara Beno, Executive Director of the ACCJC-WASC, on the phone.  The topic of conversation was our proposed B.Ed. Degree Program and our “failed” Substantive Change Reports.  Dr. Beno advised that the ACCJC-WASC does not want to discourage our pursuit of the B.Ed. Degree Program, and wants to help us write a Substantive Change Report that will be accepted by the Commission.  In our conversation, it was tentatively agreed that sometime after the accreditation visit in March we will work on a cooperative plan to get things rolling in the right direction so we can make a reality of our plans for a program of teacher education that will provide talented, capable teachers for the FSM. – Dr. Womack: Smile!

A New Year – New Resolve

It is my hope, that as the New Year progresses that each of us will have New Resolve to meet the challenges that will continue to face us, both the known challenges and the ones that are waiting for us just around the corner. – I have always found life to be exciting and I have always enjoyed life’s challenges, finding that with each new day, month, and year,  I feel all the richer for the experiences I have had.  And of all my experiences, the ones that I hold closest to my heart are the ones that relate to family, service, and friends. Throughout the years my family has been my life’s cornerstone, and throughout the years my family has grown to include a number of “non-blood relatives” . . .  People who have impacted my life through their examples . . . People like each of you who through hard work, caring, and dedication give of yourselves daily to serve our students and the people of the FSM.

I sincerely thank each of you for all that you do on a daily basis.  Our College is a great place because of you, and it will be an even better place as we approach the New Year with New Resolve to continue to be the Best that we can be.

I love each of you.   You are like family. Thanks!


Dr. Michael Tatum, President

College of Micronesia-FSM