Dr. Robert Franco is a recognized expert on contemporary Samoan, Polynesian, and Pacific Islander demographic, ecological, health, and cultural issues. He has published scholarly research on contemporary Samoan political and cultural change, traditional Hawaiian water management systems, and sociocultural factors affecting fisheries sustainability in Polynesia and Micronesia.
His current national research and training focuses on student and community engagement, reducing the minority academic achievement gap, and strengthening the liberal arts, workforce development and civic mission of higher education.
In 2008, Dr. Franco was selected an NSF-SENCER Leadership Fellow, and advisor to SENCER Center for Innovation (SCI) -Western Region. Kapiolani hosted the SCI-West Regional Symposium on “Island Sustainability” in October, 2010. He is also the College’s NSF EPSCoR and Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation coordinator.
Dr. Franco currently serves as the College’s accreditation liaison to the ACCJC/WASC, Association of American Colleges and Universities, American Council on Education, Community College Survey of Student Engagement, Carnegie Foundation, and Campus Compact. He conducts training, technical assistance and research dissemination at community colleges, universities and other conference audiences in five states per year (38 states total) with research-based training designed to improve course success, semester to semester persistence, degree completion, and transfer rates through service-learning, community-based research, and authentic partnerships. He also serves on the Advisory Board of AAC&U’s new Community College Roadmap Project, funded by Metlife, Inc.
An advocate of indigenous, intercultural, and international education, Dr. Franco was recently selected to chair the American Council on Education’s Internationalization Collaborative, and engages in the East-West Center’s International Forum on Education for the Year 2020, with 25 higher education scholars from China, India, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.