Follow Us


Financial Issues for HPU lead to Recent Layoffs and Scholarship Cuts

    By Contributing Writers. August 7, 2014 - 11:02 am

Silje Lie Solland

According to a recent article in Hawaii Business magazine, Hawai‘i Pacific University’s financial troubles prompted several recent layoffs of staff and faculty members at of the end of the spring semester 2014.  Additionally a significant decrease in HPU’s scholarship budget, has many worried about the future of student enrollment.

Despite the ranking of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine’s “Best Colleges for Return on Investment,” a 51 percent increase in tuition costs from the 2008 -09 to 2013-14 school year is a clear sign to students and staff alike, of the budgetary problems.  

It was not confirmed how many layoffs exactly occurred this past May, but at least 110 faculty and staff have left the university beginning in January 2013. Coinciding with the end of the fiscal year and contract renewals, the layoffs were not something employees had time to plan for. HPU President Geoffrey Bannister said in an interview with Hawaii Business, “letting faculty and staff go with little notice was a necessity. Unfortunately, when you have significant numbers (of people), it is the best way to do it. It doesn’t feel like the kindest way to do it.”

Contributing to the 19 percent decrease in student enrollment that has already occurred, is the decline of participation in HPU’s Military Campus Program. 

It is the hope of President Bannister, HPU’s Board of Trustees and Hawai‘i government officials, that the $40 million renovation project of Aloha Tower Marketplace (set to be completed in 2015) will generate the revenue and interest the school needs to become economically sustainable in the near future.

The Hawaii Business investigation of HPU’s financial difficulties is based on internal documents; audio recordings of meetings of administrators, staff and faculty; interviews with 10 different administrators, faculty, laid-off employees and alumni.

Read the complete article here.

Source: Hawaii Business Magazine. Photo by: Silje Lie Solland.

2 Responses to Financial Issues for HPU lead to Recent Layoffs and Scholarship Cuts

  1. University Communications Reply

    August 21, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    We are responding to clarify some of the points raised in that recent magazine article to which you refer. We believe the article erred in equating budget balancing with efforts to ensure the continued long-term financial sustainability of HPU. We encourage you to read President Bannister’s blog post at It details why HPU’s financial health is favorable and spotlights the transformative projects in the works — investments in the university’s future.

  2. Denise Sargentia-Mellon Reply

    September 30, 2014 at 6:14 am

    So, now HPU resorts to the traditional way of doing business in academia. A huge new building plan and strategic direction costing millions of dollars while at the same time HPU can not afford to pay it’s staff. My classes have gone from 25 at the freshman level when I arrived to over 50 enrolled in senior classes….that is in three years! There are not enough seats for the students and the quality of small class sizes, especially as a measure noted in US News is now gone. Maybe if the US News reporters took a class on the 4th floor of the MP building when there are no seats and there is no air conditioning for evening classes they would feel different.

    Unless HPU decides that students and staff are more important than buildings there will be no students to support those new buildings.

    In addition HPU supports a traditional top down management model that the private sector has abandoned years ago. Take a close look at the money trail and it goes right to the top.

    There are too many Deans, Vice Presidents, Department Chairs, Program Coordinators, Directors and staff for all of the above. Move the money and decision making power down in the organization, where it belongs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *