“Not covering subjects, but uncovering minds”


Established in 1992 as an American two-year liberal arts college, Hawaii Tokai International College (HTIC) is located in the city of Kapolei. HTIC, which is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), is the only American campus of the Tokai University Educational System of Japan (TES). HTIC reflects the combined educational philosophies of TES founder, Dr. Shigeyoshi Matsumae, and Dr. Richard Kosaki, University of Hawaii Chancellor Emeritus, former professor and founder of the UH Community College System. Both men shared a strong belief in active education through which students not only acquire knowledge, but also develop critical thinking, communication skills, and the intellectual curiosity to be lifelong learners.

As a scientist, Dr. Matsumae believed that a strong liberal arts education would contribute to a moral and social consciousness necessary for an increasingly technologically advanced world. His experiences in World War II led him to also believe that an internationally oriented education was the best route to lasting world peace. As such, the Tokai University Educational System (TES) is an extensive network of educational and research institutions throughout Japan, with facilities also located in Denmark and Austria. Hawaii’s unique geographic location and the rich multi-cultural milieu of Honolulu have made it the perfect place for TES's American campus.

Thus it is that HTIC exemplifies and reflects Dr. Matsumae’s beliefs. Although Japanese owned, HTIC is an accredited American liberal arts junior college. In founding HTIC, Dr. Kosaki drew upon the Tokai mission of world peace and set as the College’s goal an international student body that would study and live together in a learning community.


There are currently three closely interrelated academic programs provided at HTIC. These are (1) the College Preparatory program, (2) the Associate of Arts degree (Liberal Arts) program, and (3) International Programs. In combination, these distinct programs are responsible for creating a very special ambiance and environment that is intellectually stimulating and enriching for all who come to HTIC.

The first of these components, the College Preparatory (College Prep) program, is an intensive English-as-Second Language (ESL) program designed to help international students achieve the proficiency necessary to succeed in HTIC's Associate in Arts degree program. International students lacking the English proficiency necessary to enter directly into the Associate in Arts degree program are first enrolled in College Prep. Upon successful completion of College Prep, these students are then admitted into HTIC's Associate in Arts program. College Prep is the most effective ESL program in the State of Hawaii for college-bound ESL students because it is designed specifically for students wishing to attain U.S. Associate in Arts or baccalaureate degrees.

HTIC's main program is its Associate in Arts degree program in the Liberal Arts (hereafter referred to as "Liberal Arts" or "LA" program"). The Liberal Arts curriculum is designed to create a learning community with active learning that not only covers subjects, but uncovers minds as well. An important feature of the learning community is that it is a "school without walls," and, for this purpose, Wednesdays are reserved for off-campus field trips and activities that enhance the classroom curriculum.

Another unique feature of the Liberal Arts program is that courses are offered year round as a part of a quarter system. Students thus routinely graduate with their Associate in Arts degrees in less than the two years generally required at other U.S. colleges. Over the years, students from Germany, Chile, Peru, Thailand, the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Korea, Micronesia, Vietnam, Japan, and the U.S. have graduated from HTIC with the Associate in Arts degree. The majority of these graduates go on to successfully complete their baccalaureate degrees at universities in Hawaii, on the U.S. mainland, or at Tokai campuses in Japan.

Added vitality is brought to the campus by the third academic component of HTIC, International Programs (IP). IP coordinates frequent short-term (2-weeks to 6-month) study programs for college and graduate-level students from TES and other university and secondary school systems in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. IP students are immersed in a curriculum that blends English language courses with research in fields as diverse as anthropology, international relations, political science, history, Hawaiian culture, medicine, nursing, and marine science.

While the academic programs at HTIC focus heavily on improving students’ English language skills and providing quality and basic general education, the larger impact over the years has been the change in student attitudes and behavior as they experience the “aloha spirit” in the friendly multicultural community of Honolulu. It is this aloha spirit that results in alumni returning to visit both HTIC and Hawaii, and which frequently is commented upon in alumni surveys. And it is this change in attitude that allows these individuals to become global citizens who perpetuate the TES and HTIC mission of knowledge and cross-cultural understanding as the way to world peace.


All students at HTIC are encouraged to participate in the Honolulu community and over the years have volunteered at the Moili'ili Community Center and nearby elementary schools, and at events such as the Hawaii International Film Festival, the Great Aloha Run, the Honolulu Marathon, and various Waikiki Beach cleanups.

Opportunities for firsthand observation and participation in the business community and local government exists as well. In Winter Term 2007, for instance, a number of students enrolled in American Studies and Sociology classes gained invaluable experience by shadowing prominent leaders in the fields of business and government. In February 2007, some of these HTIC students even spent a day at the Hawaii State Capitol shadowing and learning first-hand from two prominent Hawaii State Senators. This event is scheduled again for early 2008.

In addition to HTIC's educational programs, the college participates in the community by sharing its facilities with not-for-profit groups wishing to hold workshops, seminars, conferences, and training. Over the years countless workshops have been held by Hawaii State Departments of Education, Health, Human Services, the Judiciary, the University of Hawaii, and community groups like Alu Like, the Mental Health Association, ILWU, Pacific Institute for Chemical Dependency, and Japan-America Society of Hawaii. International and national organizations also hold conferences at HTIC on topics ranging from service learning to gnotobiology, leisure education, and magnetostrictive materials. These conferences bring to Honolulu people from Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, South America, Canada and the Mainland.

As Hawaii moves deeper into the 21st century, institutions such as HTIC will play a vital role creating the international bridges required for all who seek to become articulate and culturally aware of the “global village.” Just as HTIC is young, energetic and committed to providing students with these bridges to improve their lives, HTIC is dedicated to promoting the exchange of ideas among scholars, researchers, government, and business leaders on a variety of topics and issues. In doing so, HTIC hopes to continue to be an active part of the Honolulu community, contributing in many positive ways to its dynamism and growth – just as the multi-cultural Honolulu community has provided HTIC’s international students and visitors a venue in which to experience the warm spirit of Aloha.

This article comes from Discover the World, Discover Yourself.
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