UH Hilo becomes Servicemembers Opportunity College

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Date: Tuesday, January 22, 2002
Contact: Dr. Margaret Haig, (808) 974-7664

For Immediate Release

The University of Hawai`i at Hilo, through the College of Continuing Education and Community Service, has become the newest member of the Service members Opportunity College, called SOCAD, as the first undergraduate degree-granting institution in the University of Hawai`i system. SOCAD is a consortium of 1,400 colleges and universities who provide undergraduate and graduate college degree programs to military personnel worldwide. Military personnel and their dependants take courses in programs utitlizing tuition waivers and scholarships.


The University requested and received permission to begin offering courses on military installations in Hawai`i: Hickman Air Force Base; Schofield Army Base; and Fort Schafter. Other programs can be offered to deployed personnel on remote sites throughout the world. Undergraduate enrollments at SOCAD programs on O`ahu account for over 1,500 students a year. Prior to Hilo's entry into the SOCAD system, only community college courses were offered.


As part of the distance learning consortium, UH Hilo is discussing offering military access to the computer science degree. Currently, a second cohort of students is completing their work in the BS degree. A third cohort could include military personnel worldwide.


Being a highly mobile population, military personnel and their families, through the transferability of the SOCAD courses and programs, are able to complete their degrees at educational institutions worldwide. Many military students average over 4-5 college transfers before degrees are completed. The SOCAD system enables them to transfer credits and complete requirements for degree work in new work situations worldwide.


"Having taught in SOCAD programs on O`ahu, these are some of the most stimulating and inquiring students I've taught, including at the graduate level," said CCECS Dean Margaret Haig. "They combine a world experience and an understanding of the value of education in their future lives. Many military students plan for their careers after the military and are cognizant of the financial benefits of completing their degrees on military stipends."


UH Hilo is now positioned to offer courses in a variety of modalities: distance education; online education; on-site; and articulated courses with sister institutions.


"The techniques for teaching students in SOCAD programs are similar to the techniques for outreach programs," Haig explained. "The University is already scheduling courses in North Hawai`i for the summer and is looking forward to reaching West Hawai`i audiences in selected classes." Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Bill Chen noted the prestige of being granted full SOCAD membership.


"We applied in November and we received SOCAD certification in December," Chen said. "We are full members, able to offer courses and degrees immediately. We are unique within the University of Hawai`i system. This positions UH Hilo to be able to provide distance education programs worldwide."


Additional information on SOCAD can be found at: http://www.soc.aascu.org/socad/ or call Haig at (808) 974 7664.


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