College to stop teaching flight, future aviators must take to skies elsewhere

The college announced this week that it will stop teaching students to fly in 2016.

The announcement signals the end of Honolulu Community College’s Commercial Aviation program, a program that was sought after by many pursuing lifelong dreams of taking to the skies as pilots.

But the program was criticized in recent years for failing to award enough degrees and for being too costly.

Erika Lacro, the school’s chancellor, called the shut down a “sunset” in an email to faculty.

More on this story as it develops.

Accreditors lift warning status

Chancellor Erika Lacro looks over the letter removing HCC from warning status
Chancellor Erika Lacro looks over the letter removing HCC from warning status

Updated Feb. 19, 2014

By Mathew Ursua
Ka La editor

The college’s accreditation warning status has been lifted by its accreditors, removing a serious cloud that had been hanging over the school for almost a year.
The removal of the warning, which came in a letter to Chancellor Erika Lacro in early February, clears the way for the school to remain in good academic standing for years to come.
The accreditation commission acted to remove the warning it issued last year.
Lacro said she received the letter on the first Friday in February by email.
“The college worked very hard over the last year to address the recommendations the commission made in 2013,” Lacro said.
“I expected, given the amount of work accomplished, that we would have our accreditation reaffirmed and that we would be removed from warning,” she said.
There were good signs in November when the head of the accreditation team, Mary Okada, president of Guam Community College, commended the college during a visit. Okada cited the way the college acted quickly to remedy the most crucial recommendations pertaining to Distance Education and General Education.
Okada also noted that the college had done a good job of emphasizing standards and student learning outcomes, adding that it had begun to permeate the school’s culture.
Being on warning forced administrators to act quickly and well.
Lacro told Ka La in October that despite the bad press, the situation was forcing administrators to implement better practices and focus more on student success.
“Even though the good work is spurred by us being put on warning, it helps accelerate us looking more closely at the experience for the students,” Lacro said, “Even though we’re under warning and it’s a lot of pressure, it’s a good time to make improvements.”
But Lacro said there’s more to do in the upcoming year.
In an email to faculty, Lacro said that the work “doesn’t stop here.” The accrediting commission will ask all UH community colleges to submit follow up reports by mid-October this year.
In their letter to the school, the accrediting commission said that there are still deficiencies that need to be corrected.
As part of turning things around for the better, the school tasked dozens of staff and faculty members with reviewing the accreditation committee’s recommendations and implementing fixes for the problems.
It all began less than a year into Lacro’s chancellorship when she received a letter from accreditors saying the school was put on warning for failing to fix problems that were found as long ago as 2006.
In her email to faculty, Lacro thanked everyone for their “hard work,” and promised more information on the next steps.

Lacro named new chancellor

Mathew Ursua for Ka La | Erika Lacro opens a 2011 UH Board of Regents meeting on Honolulu Community College’s campus

Erika Lacro has been named the new chancellor of Honolulu Community College. Her appointment, effective July 1, was confirmed today by the University of Hawaii Board of Regents.

Lacro has served as vice chancellor of academic affairs at Honolulu Community College since 2007. She has previously served as assistant dean and director of student services, as well as director of internship and career development for the School of Travel Industry Management at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Prior to joining the university, she served as quality training manager at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, supervising management trainee and internship programs.

As an administrator at Honolulu Community College, Lacro is recognized for providing consistent, stable leadership in academic affairs at the campus as well as with systemwide initiatives. She has successfully managed the Campus Leadership Team composed of academic deans, directors, division chairs, and unit heads.

The search committee and executive interview committee cited as some of her strengths her familiarity with the campus, faculty, staff and programs; her enthusiasm; and her tremendous amount of energy. They commended her ability to make necessary personnel and programmatic changes, and were enthusiastic about her ideas to increase recruitment and retention of Native Hawaiian students.

She will replace Michael Rota, who is retiring as chancellor effective July 1.