THE IDEAL UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
Honolulu, April 1998
The ideals of a state are revealed in its system of education, a system crowned by its universities.
Ideals are essential to the practical life, to our well-being. They represent the most worthwhile, perfectly conceived objectives organized for future reference. They are the guiding facts of intentional life, the final causes of our interim goals, and our declarations of independence.
The current circumstances at the University of Hawaii indicate that the crown of our state is in a precarious position, that it is tarnished and about to lose some of its precious jewels. The cause of the sorry state of affairs is attributed to a long-standing, torpid general economy and the alleged mal-administration of financial resources during good times and bad, resulting in a perceived immediate need for budget cuts everywhere.
As is always the case when oxen might be gored, all sorts of rumors are being bandied about, and it is difficult to distinguish between concrete official proposals and paranoid conjecture. Nevertheless, waiting-room gossip suffices to reveal just how far short of the ideal current conditions are.
It seems that surgery is a foregone conclusion; any suggestion of a second or third opinion is drowned in a chorus of politically correct economic doctrine. The university, in its capacity as a mere advisor to the legislature, is reportedly extending its full cooperation in the operating room, utilizing a sophisticated administrative procedure whereby each specialty recommends various avulsions and extirpations of each others organs. Dialecticians amongst them suggested a synthetic approach of across-the-board cuts, but even small evulsions would eviscerate some departments.
Rumor has it that the law school and the medical school might be eliminated along with European languages. Other areas facing forceps and scalpel are public health, social work, education psychology, speech, microbiology, journalism and public administration. One scholar has recommended replacing the university administrative staff with a computer program.
Some of the areas are targeted because of an apparent lack of sufficient demand to support the relevant operating costs. It is feared that even if ample funds are raised privately, say, for research, then the state will compensate itself by prescribing complementary cuts, therefore leaving the patient still valetudinarian.
As for demand in general, the currency devaluation in Asia is already having its negative impact on revenue because of the University's large foreign student enrollment.
Even more broadly, undergraduates complain that: they are neglected in favor of a snooty educated elite; students can't get to professors, especially those who are more interested in writing and research than in teaching; information is "regurgitated" for exams and quickly forgotten; the focus is not on intelligent activity but on having data; they wish they'd enrolled elsewhere; they are extremely bored with being socially conditioned to focus on their future fortunes rather than on the means of obtaining it; there is a dearth of ancillary and extra-curricular activities that might imbue some sense of solidarity in contrast to the feeling of isolation endemic to a "commuter campus"; and although a few students have circulated petitions in response to what is presumed to be a budgetary problem, most students could care less about politics and are resigned to "whatever."
Now then, what sort of ideals do these aspects adumbrate? Has the crown fallen completely off the head of liberty? Where are the protest marches? The sit-ins? The screaming kids being pulled by their hair into paddy wagons?
The current conditions suggest that intellectual capital is being held hostage in our fair paradise, and for a paltry ransom at that. What for? Is it for the sake of a cheap labor supply, so that the smartest ones, who are always a threat to the status quo, keep heading for the mainland?
Is the passive acceptance of budget cuts and the belief in the efficacy of a balanced budget mechanism due to the deluded belief in an inevitable Progress, whereby whatever happens is therefore the best of all possible events, just another randomly determined link in the evolutionary chain? Has everyone forgotten that progress does not make us, that we make progress?
Balanced-budget dogma is self-defeating; balance-sheet mentality is immoral, decadent, degrading. Money is merely a medium to exchange what has been made. Regardless of the monetary costs, a virtuous man will conquer the world for the love of an attractive woman or die in the process. If the pioneers were worried about costs and bound to balance budgets at the frontier there would be no United States of America.
Has the perverse, pseudo-idealistic competitive free-market propaganda left us all in a drunken stupor of belief that the market, with its self-correcting, mechanical thermostatic price devices will lead us to the promised land of golden equilibrium? Ah, the argument goes, if we will only mind our own business, there will be a surfeit of drinks all around, and society shall culminate in an orgy of consumption! We will all die with drinks in our hands!
But the current economic idols are ideals in name only, names devoid of any possible living content. No real example, model, or image can represent the nothing of "whatever." And if God is dead, He would be rolling over in his grave if he knew about the worship of the financial bull.
Fortunately, there is an ideal emerging from some of the minds made almost sober by the hangovers of the extended debauch. Many individuals have voiced positive, constructive opinions. And a few hundred individuals gathered together recently for a seminar on the subject. What figures emerge from those opinions? Who will support the university, and what will she do for us?
The ideal university will have the financial and moral support of the entire community in the many forms that support will assume. Everyone who is interested in improving the quality of life will provide the necessary support. Students and parents will vie to pay tuition and pay off student loans. Wealthy individuals, great foundations, and prosperous businesses will be especially eager to provide ample funding. And the state government will act according to the recognition that one of its most urgent duties is to make sure that those who want to learn will have the means to an excellent education, especially when the lamps of self-consciousness, of individual freedom, begin to flicker from want of fuel, for without the productive power of educated minds there shall be no exchange values and there shall be no free state.
During President Clinton's visit to Africa, a resident was asked what the Americans should bring to Africa to help it. Considering the surrounding, undeveloped background in the camera's view, we expected him to ask for money, food, clothing, building materials, et cetera; but no, he asked for more good ideas to solve the problems of Africa.
In return for our favor, the ideal university will do everything in her power to foster those activities and programs that will constantly improve the quality of life not only for the residents of Hawaii but for the people of those states where her students have their permanent residence. She will light the torches of freedom for the students of foreign countries, who will carry the lights back to their native lands to illuminate the way to spiritual and physical prosperity. She will inspire all her students and friends in the world to search for and create the best of ideals, the most perfect models to lead them in their endeavors, and instill in them ideas conducive to a harmonious life and a feeling of universal community.
Recognizing the craving of humans for a humane life, the University of Hawaii will become a queen of the humanities and arts; her beauty shall be renowned throughout the world.
The University of Hawaii will attend to the material needs of her constituents, fully comprehending that the intellect is the fundamental tool of all practical ventures. She will reach out with her sciences, to the land, the heavens and seas, and stimulate the growth of abundant power, food and enduring, healthy life. She will encourage entrepreneurs by virtue of her knowledge to perpetuate successful adventures and raise them up to become benefactors of all those who follow. She will counsel the government in its policies. In fact, there is no walk of thoughtful life where her beneficial influence will not be felt, for she represents the mind, the organizing principle of intelligent life. She is the ideal university, our crowning glory.
At least in my mind, that is the ideal university intimated by the community. If only I was a fine artist, I would paint an even more lovely portrait for you. Please take my word for it: in my mind she is the most beautiful mother on earth.
We must all act now to forcefully assert the priority of mind over matter. That is why I have done my best to present, in your honor, the most attractive ideal university I can conceive of with my own limited ingredients. I fervently hope that the portrait I have painted, with the tools and materials I owe to your society, is attractive enough to move you to immediately exercise your creative powers for our mutual benefit, to take those actions necessary to realize the ideal university.