Education at a Crossroads

New Chaminade president wants to build on the university’s strengths and add useful programs for undergraduates and older students

Lynn Babington had a career in nursing before taking on leadership roles at universities. In August, she became Chaminade University of Honolulu’s 10th president, with a vision that encompasses students of many ages.

Q: What are your plans for Chaminade?
A: We need to focus on a few areas where we’re very strong – obviously in health and STEM – and we need to build those areas further. We also have a very strong business school and meet the needs of the business community. It’s important that we get out the word about who we are so people understand our programs, the affordability and the career preparation. We also need to look at building programs that our communities need at the adult level, though not necessarily degree-granting programs.

We will be launching a certificate program in data science, data analytics, data management, certainly in nursing. We will launch certificate programs for people who have already had a successful career. We’ll start with geriatric certification but we’ll do others. We have to look at areas that leverage our expertise and where there is a demand.

“We were sort of first to market here in providing online education. Originally that was for military personnel and their families,” says Babington. “…That business continues to grow for us.”

Q: How is higher education changing?
A: Higher education is at a crossroads. People are asking, “What is the return on investment for sending my child to college?” Adults thinking about going back are also wondering, “What’s the value proposition for a traditional education?”

We at Chaminade are in a very good place in relationship to that. We have a traditional undergraduate program and an online program. We were sort of first to market here in providing online education. Originally that was for military personnel and their families so they could begin or complete a degree even when they got deployed and transferred somewhere else. We learned over the years what makes that successful. It’s providing support services to families, so it’s not just a random online course you’re taking, but you’ve got advisors you’ve personally met with or have a very strong relationship with online. That business continues to grow for us.

Q: Half of Chaminade’s students are local. How does Chaminade compete against Mainland schools for these students?
A: Part of my goal is to help families see their best choice might be to send their child to Chaminade for four years knowing every summer they could have a Mainland experience, high end, in many fields. We have internship opportunities all over the place, and then students can go to the Mainland, perhaps, for graduate school.

What’s the old saying about things are lost on youth? Sometimes, 18-year-olds don’t know of the opportunities they could be taking because they’re still developing and learning.

It may be appropriate for some students to go to the Mainland for college, and others might have a richer experience here that sets them up better to be successful.

This interview was edited for conciseness.

Categories: Education, Innovation, Leadership