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    September - Palikir, Pohnpei


September 05, 2007

To:         All Concerned 

From:     President, COM-FSM 

Subject: President’s Update #298

COM-FSM Board of Regents

The COM-FSM Board of Regents concluded a two day regular meeting at the National Campus on August 28, 2007. Four members of the BOR attended the meeting and paid a courtesy call to the FSM President at 10:00 a.m. on August 27, 2007. The BOR member from the State of Yap was not in attendance at this meeting as that seat is still vacant. However, Governor Anefal of Yap State has informed President James that a nominee has been sent to the FSM President’s Office for his blessing and the FSM Congress’ confirmation. We hope the FSM Congress can confirm Yap State nominee so the nominee can attend an upcoming Board Training later this year and the BOR meeting in December 2007.

Program Planning Conference

The College hosted a Programs Planning Conference on August 30-31, 2007 in the FSM-China Friendship Sport Center at the National Campus. The Programs Planning Conference addressed priorities for programs and services over the next three to five years. What programs and services would best allow the college to meet its mission while maintaining and improving quality of programs and services?

Details regarding some of the questions that were addressed during the conference included: what are acceptable standards for financing of programs?; how do we ensure quality of the programs?; how do we ensure quality of the same programs and services offered at different campuses?; what are the acceptable levels of enrollment, graduation and retention?

Campus Directors and Vice Presidents were requested to consider ways and resources to maximize participation of key faculty and staff. Campus Directors and Program Heads were encouraged to engage their faculty and staff in discussions on programs and quality needs for the college prior to the meeting at the end of August.

Because discussions and decisions needed to be data driven, it was requested that each department, program, campus bring as much information on existing programs and future programs as possible.

Summary of Recommendations from the conference included the following:

  • For the Fiscal Year 2009 budget, there will be a moratorium on new programs and staffing unless the program has already been approved by the Board of Regents.
  • Consolidation of programs may be considered and is recommended in areas identified in the conference.
  • To address quality issues of current programs, all programs (Administrative, Student Services, Academic, CRE, and Sponsored Programs) will have at a minimum, an evaluation plan and tentative results by Fall Semester 2008. The Institutional Assessment Plan Development will be accelerated to have a draft working document by the end of October 2007. The college will provide training and technical assistance to departments, programs and campuses.
  • To ensure viability of programs, the college will establish a working group to develop benchmarks for programs to include at a minimum:
  • Enrolment
  • Graduation rates
  • Retention and Persistence Rates
  • Seat Cost
  • Enrollment Management Indicators
  • The college will develop formal mechanisms on how to address state/national/student priorities.
  • The college will explore with other Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) linkages for programs and degrees.
  • The college will survey employers and others IHEs on quality issues relating to COM-FSM graduates and transfer students.
  • The college will implement the President’s Retreat 2007 findings for improving linkages between the K-12 and college system to address quality of incoming students and assist with improving retention, persistence and graduation of students.
  • The college will develop a recruitment and retention plan.

Over 90 participants from the College System and stakeholders attended the conference.

Updates on World Park

The World Park has made significant progress since April 2007. To date Chuuk, Kosrae and Pohnpei States have passed support resolutions. Chuuk State Legislature passed an overwhelming support resolution out of the House. The Chuuk Senate is reportedly about to make this a joint resolution when they convene again in September 2007. It is our understanding that the Chuuk Senate is making minor adjustments to the resolution wording at this time and will vote in the September session

In May the COM-FSM World Park Coordinator traveled to Chuuk State and joined the COM-FSM Chuuk Campus Director/World Park Coordinator Joakim Peter in hearings at both the Chuuk House and Senate. The Governor appointed Chuuk State World Park Planning Coordinator Mr. Mason Fritz joined the two COM-FSM World Park Coordinators in the hearings. Both hearings were deemed as successful as the resolution outcomes would attest. Chuuk State is also working to secure funding for the proposed 12 months planning process.

In April COM-FSM hosted a World Park breakfast and Governor Weilbacher of Kosrae was able to view the World Park presentation. At the conclusion of the presentation Governor Weilbacher stated support for the initiative.

On April 20, 2007 the Pohnpei Legislature appropriated $93,000 for World Park planning. This amount is in excess of the requested appropriation. Pre-planning meetings have begun in Pohnpei lead by the Pohnpei World Park Planning Coordinator Lt. Governor Yakana. The official start of the 12 month Pohnpei State World Park planning is scheduled to begin on October 15, 2007. The COM-FSM Pohnpei State World Park planning contract is in process at this time.

In June the COM-FSM World Park Coordinator traveled to Michigan State University to engage in planning meetings and to brief administration officials on World Park development progress. At this meeting the question of funding for planning was discussed and concern was voiced by the COM-FSM World Park Coordinator that lack of funding in at least two states may jeopardize the development of the World Park. MSU Dean offered up to $300,000 in planning assistance from MSU to be applied to the 4 FSM States planning for the World Park. This funding will enable the States of Kosrae and Chuuk in particular to proceed with World Park planning through a partial funding appropriation if these states cannot appropriate full funding as per the World Park planning process.

Michigan State University sent their World Park Coordinator Dr. Richard Paulsen to Pohnpei on July 31, 2007. Ten days of meetings and presentation by COM-FSM and MSU including the FSM, Pohnpei State, and other officials followed.

As a note the World Park initiative is an excellent fit with the Micronesian Challenge. This point is continually stressed in all World Park presentations.

In summary the World Park initiative is making good progress. Strong public engagement and understanding is one of the aims of planning and will help stakeholders at the grassroots level to understand and support the concept and to also understand their ownership and roles in the concept.

Feasibility Plan on 4 Year College

The key staff at the College of Micronesia-FSM met with President Manny Mori and his Chief of Staff, the Honorable Sabino Asor during the month of July 2007 regarding converting the National Campus into a 4 Year College. After discussing the idea of converting the National Campus into a 4 Year College (with selected programs) and other concerns from President Mori regarding graduates of the College, the College representatives were also asked to submit a feasibility plan on the 4 Year College in December 2007. The program planning workshop at the end of this month will also be addressing the options that the College will be reviewing for the 4 year college.

How COM-FSM Can Ensure Academic Quality of its Programs?

Experts like Peter T. Ewell and organizations like Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges have reported that Community Colleges and 4 Year Colleges can ensure the quality of their programs by doing the following which have also been partially implemented at the COM-FSM:

  • Assessing Student-Learning Outcomes. Assessments are done to make sure that students are learning what the College is saying the students are learning in its courses and programs. One important aspect of assessment is about consistency across the standards of awarding grades throughout the COM-FSM System. For example, does a grade of “B” in EN 110 Advanced Reading at National Campus have the same weight as at the Chuuk Campus.
  • Are the Retention and Graduation rates comparable to the COM-FSM’s peers? Based on the National Center for Education Statistics the retention rates at community colleges in USA is at 65-85%. The retention rate at the COM-FSM is at 50%. The graduation rate (persistence rate after 3 years) at USA community colleges is at 30%. The persistence rate at the COM-FSM is 13%.
  • Employers, higher institutions of learning and stakeholders inputs on graduates and transfer students. Recent inputs from key leaders of the FSM indicated that COM-FSM graduates do not have good work ethics and they do not transition smoothly into the workforce. Other stakeholders have reported at the President’s Summit earlier this year that the COM-FSM graduates usually do not follow directions. Other businesses in town like local banks commented positively on the COM-FSM graduates. Inputs from some of the institutions that received COM-FSM transfer graduates indicated that transfer students have higher graduation and/or completion rates.
  • Taking Stock of Program Assets. Are we keeping statistics on our programs that will inform us of the productivity of the programs? Does the College undertake program reviews of its programs to determine their viability? Statistics on the percentage of the operational budget spent on instructional programs and on student cost are also important statistics on determining the productivity of programs. Community Colleges in US are spending about 33-40% or their operational budgets on instructional programs. The average student cost at Community Colleges in USA is at $7500. COM-FSM student cost is at $3,500 and 40% of operational budget is spent on instructional programs.
  • Decision on Accreditation from WASC. Accreditation is the established “quality test” for colleges. The COM-FSM receives a favorable decision on its accreditation status from WASC (no sanction). This decision provides a clear public signal to stakeholders and potential customers that the COM-FSM and its academic programs operate with integrity and have attained a recognized level of performance that can be relied upon.

Fall Semester 2007 Enrollment at Campuses

The Fall Semester 2007 enrollment at COM-FSM Campuses as of 8/21/07 is as follow:

  • Chuuk Campus - 454
  • Kosrae Campus - 168
  • National Campus - 914
  • Pohnpei Campus - 570
  • Yap Campus - 186

Total-------------------- 2,292

Asia Pacific Association for Fiduciary Studies

The College of Micronesia-FSM is a member of the Asia Pacific Association for Fiduciary Studies. Last year this organization had its annual meeting in the Philippines and a delegation of three including a student attended that conference. Mr. Sergio Keller, a third year student in Accounting at the National Campus was selected to represent the College of Micronesia-FSM at the conference. His essay was based on his “Experience in Stock Market Investment”.

VPA Charles Musana, VPIA Jean Thoulag, and Chairperson for the Business Administration Division Joe Felix, are coordinating this year’s competition. COM-FSM will nominate a chaperone and a student with the best essay to attend this conference on October 18-19, 2007 in Manila, Philippines. All expenses for the chaperone and student will be paid by the Asia Pacific Association for Fiduciary Studies.

Thank you.