Pondering Going Expeditionary

Hello reader! Oh, who am I kidding? Nobody reads this. This is the same as writing a "memorandum to file" report.

There exists an opening for an expedition. I don't really have any binding obligation to carry out this expedition. Guilt can be a powerful driver, though.

My last regular professional librarian post was as Cataloger at the American Samoa Community College. The college is effectively at high risk of losing accreditation from the regional accreditor as they are on Show Cause status. The college was expected to make a report to the accreditor this month but, based upon my experience as former staff, there is a strong chance that fa'a samoa ("Samoan Way") will wreck the ability to respond. If accreditation is lost the school will still operate under the laws of the Territory of American Samoa but is barred from participation in any federal student aid program let alone having any other institution accept credits earned there.

Society and culture in the Territory of American Samoa is great except that it doesn't adapt to change very well. The notion of going through the motions to get somebody off your back is also rather present. While the college would be expected to prepare for possible closure due to stripping of accreditation, the nature of the southernmost routinely civilian populated territory of the United States of America requires some consideration.

The next closest physical academic institutions within the US style will be in Hawaii. For those trying to conceptualize the geography, that is merely 2,500 miles away by plane over uninhabited bare water. In the style of the Commonwealth of Nations, the University of the South Pacific operates a branch campus in the neighboring independent country of Samoa. An institution like the University of the South Pacific would result in having its transcripts evaluated severely as a "foreign institution" by employers and other academic institutions if the US nationals in the territory moved anywhere else in US jurisdiction. National University of Samoa would also fit the same scenario.

Adopting online education from Udacity, Excelsior College, University of Phoenix, or other such providers would not necessarily be an immediate slam-dunk response to bridge the gap. Island telecommunications are in a delicate state. I don't have reliable information as to actual bandwidth and on-island access available. There are details in the CIA World Factbook but they are dated and I haven't seen anything usable from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

An expedition is proposed to go into the territory. Due to the current budget crisis federally, private funding would be required and sanction from the territorial government would be needed to operate in lieu of getting this under the aegis of the Office of Insular Affairs at the US Department of the Interior. A multi-pronged research effort would need to be carried out over a short period to assess the situation so as to develop a report for territorial leaders as well as being available to the Office of Insular Affairs and perhaps the Congress.

Items to be researched include:
1. The current state of telecommunications on the island
2. Analysis of the collection of the territorial public library showing its strengths and weaknesses
3. Review of the territorial constitution and laws as well as the structure of the territorial executive relative to whether or not an independent governing board could be appointed for the college unlike what was found by accreditors
4. Statistical analysis of the college's educational activities for the past 6 years to review what a variety of cohorts were taught and learned
5. Legislative recommendations to amend the territory's laws and/or the territory's constitution to allow for a successor to the college to function properly within accreditor guidelines

If the college loses accreditation, a major change proposal would need to be entered by one or more academic institutions willing to operate an extension in the island archipelago to help bootstrap a new institution. Loss of accreditation would be known by January with a "teach out" expected to last until the end of the 2015-2016 academic year if needed. No new students could be enrolled during the "teach out" period while students are helped to either finish up their programs during that semester or are aided in transitioning to other institutions off-island.

I wouldn't have the foggiest notion where to begin to seek funding let alone crew as this is not a solo mission. I know this would not be a cheap mission either. This would not be a fast mission, either. While data-gathering in-territory would likely take roughly two weeks at the utmost minimum, report writing can happen outside the territory. Transportation logistics mandate the two week minimum stay just for having seats on flights between Honolulu and Pago Pago.

This is not a fully formed idea and needs further consideration. For now it is in the files to be worked on.

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Wrapping Up The Week

In no particular order:

  • I've spent time visiting too many different medical facilities
  • The news has been weird
  • I finally conquered a USB enumeration problem on a household machine by sacrificing hardware meant for something else
  • I'm feeling my age and not liking being a childless bachelor
  • The return to work is getting a bit more complicated

And from the Twitter echo chamber:

Picture of a tweet found at https://twitter.com/baseballcrank/status/647968226702401536

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