It’s Time to Take a Stand

We Stand on the Shoulders of Those Before Us

If you are currently a tenured faculty or a tenured track faculty in instruction, research, extension, specialist, librarian, or other faculty classifications, then you are a direct beneficiary to those retired and more than likely deceased UH faculty who have over the decades fought tirelessly and vigorously to protect and ensure your faculty rights under tenure, academic freedom, collective bargaining, and many other terms and conditions of employment.  These former UH faculty members, who even before the Stateʻs recognition and adoption over collective bargaining rights for public employees in 1970, recognized the value of UHʻs unique classification system and the importance and significance of upholding tenure in order for the UH to continue to grow and prosper into the great research and instructional institution we have today.

The Current Battle is Nothing New

Attacks over UHʻs faculty classification system and faculty tenure by the ever evolving and changing Board of Regents (BOR) is not new nor will it ever cease.  Moreover, significant and detrimental attacks occur after numerous decades have passed when those who were involved, and who can recall and remember, are no longer here with us.  Recorded history will reflect that in 1967 the BOR hired an external consultant (i.e. Public Administration Service or PAS) to review UHʻs faculty classification plan and recommended abolishing the research and specialist classification and to reclassify them as either an APT or faculty but removing the distinction of researcher and/or specialist.  Faculty rose in opposition and testified against the recommendations.  The BOR did not adopt the recommendations and the research and specialist classifications remained intact and remained as faculty.  One of the reasons why the BOR held off on taking action was the impact of individuals in these positions in regards to their loss of tenure and the impact of conversion to the APT classification.

The Benefits You Enjoy Today Were Won By Those Who Came Before You

The previous generation of faculty recognized and appreciated the importance of protecting faculty rights over tenure, academic freedom, collective bargaining, and other terms and conditions of employment, not only for the institution itself but also to help the UH flourish and excel in the areas of research, instruction, and extension.  They put in the time, effort, work, and made the sacrifices necessary to ensure that the institution would continue to grow, thrive, and advance for the next generation and the generations to come by organizing and opposing the forces that threatened the cornerstones of academic institutions.

If It Can Happen To Them, It Can Happen To You

Unfortunately, on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, the University of Georgia Regents approved changes to itʻs boardʻs post tenure review policy against the objections of its faculty and its union, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), as reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education, which faculty and the AAUP criticized as a hobbling of tenure.  The current threats to tenure across the nation, including public higher education institutions, will continue to be constant and relentless.  It will require more advocacy, engagement, and solidarity of faculty and UHPA with not only the Board of Regents, but also the UH Administration. 

Now it’s Your Turn To Carry The Torch Forward

Today, a significant threat and challenge has again reared itʻs ugly head .  Faculty are again faced with dealing with BOR recommendations that will definitely change and significantly impact all faculty in a very harmful and negative manner, as well as, negatively impact the institution they serve.  

It’s Time to Take Action NOW

The BOR is scheduled to hear, discuss, and possibly take action on the Tenure PIGʻs report and recommendations at its next meeting scheduled for this Thursday, October 21, 2021 (insert link here).  Faculty across all ten UH campuses are calling upon each other to organize and take action by submitting written testimony as well as providing oral testimony over the Tenure PIGʻs report and recommendations.  It is time that the BOR hears the voices of faculty across the institution. 

Every generation faces their own unique personal and professional challenges.  One thing is also certain: you have an individual choice and decision to voice your opposition to these recommendations or to remain silent.  As the saying goes, no vote – no grumble.  Your future as a faculty member and the future of other UH faculty will be up for decision.  This is your moment, now, to take action and that means submitting testimony, preferably oral but at least written.  

Submit Your Testimony Now

All written testimony on agenda items received after posting of a meeting’s agenda and up to 24 hours in advance of the meeting will be distributed to the board. Late testimony on agenda items will be distributed to the board within 24 hours of receipt. Written testimony may be submitted via the board’s website at this link, US mail, email to bor.testimony@hawaii.edu, or facsimile at (808) 956-5156. All written testimony submitted are public documents. Therefore, any testimony that is submitted for use in the public meeting process is public information and will be posted on the board’s website.

Those wishing to provide oral testimony for a virtual meeting must register in advance via this  registration link Given constraints with the online format of our meetings, individuals wishing to orally testify must register no later than the registration closing time as noted on the agenda. It is highly recommended that written testimony be submitted in addition to registering to provide oral testimony. Oral testimony will be limited to three (3) minutes per testifier.  You will be provided a (1) minute warning bell to wrap up your testimony.

Individuals providing oral testimony at a virtual meeting will need to connect through the Zoom application. When signing up, please note that the name used upon registration may be included in the meeting minutes. After completing the registration form, registrants will receive an email confirmation with the necessary meeting information and connection instructions.

On the meeting day, individuals registered to provide oral testimony will be placed in a viewing room upon connection to the scheduled meeting. When called upon to begin their testimony, oral testifiers will be unmuted and have the ability to turn their video on. Microphones will be muted and video will be disabled upon conclusion of providing testimony.

For further assistance regarding testimony, please contact the board office at bor.testimony@hawaii.edu or (808) 956-8213.

For disability accommodations, contact the board office at (808) 956-8213 or bor@hawaii.edu. Advance notice requested five (5) days in advance of the meeting.

UH Blindsides Us Again

We Heard You Loud and Clear

We recognize and acknowledge all those who took the time to send an email expressing your frustration, concerns, and heightened anxieties about the University of Hawai‘i’s vaccination mandate intended to go into effect in the spring 2022 semester. We realize many of you found the news upsetting and we share your frustration and confusion over what was issued by the UH administration yesterday.

Based on what was posted on the UH website, the UH System Office of Human Resources notified all employees about the mandate and noted: “The three unions representing UH employees were also consulted.”

No, We Weren’t Formally Consulted

For the record, the UH administration never formally consulted UHPA on this matter. We received a letter from the UH Office of Human Resources about the vaccination mandate on October 5, 2021 and immediately requested a consultation meeting with the UH administration as soon as possible. While we agree vaccinations are an effective tool against the spread of COVID-19, we do not agree with the manner in which the mandate was issued, determined, and decreed. To date, we have not yet heard back from the UH administration on possible consultation meeting dates but look forward to engaging in meaningful discussion and dialogue over this significant and sensitive issue.

But This Does Imply Consultation Will Be Required

We do however acknowledge and accept the UH Office of Human Resources noting that the subject matter is under consultation with the unions in their announcement which is a recognition of the UH administration’s desire to formally consult with UHPA and to respect the collective bargaining rights of the faculty under Chapter 89, HRS – irrespective of Governor Ige’s Emergency Proclamation.  We look forward to this formal consultation process with the UH administration and will keep you apprised of our discussions.

We’re Publicly on the Record

Here is a link to an interviews in the media:

Mahalo for your patience as we work through this issue on behalf of our members.

Time to Imu the PIG

Missed the mark

It goes without saying further that since the Tenure PIGʻs report and recommendations were released on September 16, 2021, it did not gain any traction, support, or defense worthy of any consideration and action by the BOR in the eyes of faculty and UHPA.  Although the stated intent was to review: (1) the history and purpose of tenure; (2) the evolution of and current views and developments on tenure; and (3) the current criteria and decision making process for tenure, it seems the Tenure PIG was unjustly aiming at harming faculty as their primary target.  

Although former BOR Chair Ben Kudo declared at the February 18, 2021 meeting that the Tenure PIG would be comprised of all major stakeholders including faculty and administrators involved in research and tenure, the Tenure PIG reneged on its promise and lost a tremendous opportunity in fulfilling its original purpose and intent.  The composition of the Tenure PIG as noted in the Report of the Permitted Interaction Group on Tenure dated September 10, 2021 is absent of any faculty and short on full representation of UH administrators with years of knowledge and experience in research and tenure.    

Noted is current BOR Chair Randy Moore who also went on record at the same meeting that he “was encouraged that the Task Group will contain a wide spectrum of members with diverse backgrounds that will allow various perspectives to be brought forward” and “that having rational discussions through the Task Group will allow the board to gain a better understanding of tenure.”

The question to the Regents is whether or not the Board gained a “better understanding of tenure.” It seems impossible to “gain a complete understanding of the concept of tenure” by reading the Report and Resolution offered by the Tenure PIG, let alone be  ready and prepared to make radical and future decisions on this issue?  If so, we are anxiously awaiting to hear from the BOR.

Just a Sham

With due respect, the Tenure PIG was doomed the minute former Regent Chair Kudo failed to uphold his promise and commitment that experienced faculty and administrators involved in research and tenure, who are considered as major stakeholders, must be part of the Tenure PIG.  Rather than seeking dialogue and discussions that are open, honest, informative, and thoughtful to seek common ground in achieving worthwhile goals, the Tenure PIG turned to what is more comfortable – working in a silo to construct a predetermined narrative and agenda.  If there is still honor in oneʻs words, then the BOR should examine its actions, statements, and commitments in determining whether the Tenure PIG fulfilled its due diligence in its report and recommended resolution.  The impact of such radical proposals and decisions will be felt in the years and generations to come.

Call to Unity

The challenge to tenure will always be present and will continue as long as faculty cherish and protect their rights to academic freedom in that they can continue to advance and transmit knowledge; to pursue research and innovation; and draw upon evidence-based conclusions free from corporate or political pressure.

The untimely and without basis Resolution offered by the Tenure PIG will cause a revolution if adopted by the BOR.  The work of the Tenure PIG, in its current form, is not worthy of any action or consideration by the BOR.  Change is inevitable.  However, meaningful change is one that is embraced, supported, and adopted by everyone, especially those who will be impacted by the change.  In this regard, we turn to the preamble of Chapter 89, HRS, or Hawaiiʻs collective bargaining law wherein it states:

“The legislature finds that joint decision-making is the modern way of administering government.  Where public employees have been granted the right to share in the decision-making process affecting wages and working conditions, they have become more responsive and better able to exchange ideas and information on operations with their administrators.  Accordingly, government is made more effective.  The legislature further finds that the enactment of positive legislation establishing guidelines for public employment relations is the best way to harness and direct the energies of public employees eager to have a voice in determining their conditions of work; to provide a rational method for dealing with disputes and work stoppages; and to maintain a favorable political and social environment.”

The Tenure PIG initially was on this path, but clearly deviated beyond not only the ranch but the reservation.  The respectful and honorable action for the BOR to take is to defer any action on the Tenure PIGʻs report and resolution and begin the process again with fulfilling its original purpose and intent.  Itʻs TIME TO IMU THE PIG.

UHPA calls upon all Unit 7 faculty who not only cherish but want to safeguard their rights to academic freedom to let your voices and actions be heard loud and clear by testifying at the upcoming October 21, 2021 BOR meeting.  It’s time that BOR hears the voices of faculty. 

How to submit BOR testimony

All written testimony on agenda items received after posting of a meeting’s agenda and up to 24 hours in advance of the meeting will be distributed to the board. Late testimony on agenda items will be distributed to the board within 24 hours of receipt. Written testimony may be submitted via the board’s website, US mail, email at bor.testimony@hawaii.edu, or facsimile at (808) 956-5156. All written testimony submitted are public documents. Therefore, any testimony that is submitted for use in the public meeting process is public information and will be posted on the board’s website.

Those wishing to provide oral testimony for a virtual meeting must register in advance via the registration link on the meeting agenda. Given constraints with the online format of our meetings, individuals wishing to orally testify must register no later than the registration closing time as noted on the agenda. It is highly recommended that written testimony be submitted in addition to registering to provide oral testimony. Oral testimony will be limited to three (3) minutes per testifier.

Individuals providing oral testimony at a virtual meeting will need to connect through the Zoom application. When signing up, please note that the name used upon registration may be included in the meeting minutes. After completing the registration form, registrants will receive an email confirmation with the necessary meeting information and connection instructions.

On the meeting day, individuals registered to provide oral testimony will be placed in a viewing room upon connection to the scheduled meeting. When called upon to begin their testimony, oral testifiers will be unmuted and have the ability to turn their video on. Microphones will be muted and video will be disabled upon conclusion of providing testimony.

For further assistance regarding testimony, please contact the board office at bor.testimony@hawaii.edu or (808) 956-8213.

For disability accommodations, contact the board office at (808) 956-8213 or bor@hawaii.edu. Advance notice requested five (5) days in advance of the meeting.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Permitted Interaction Group (PIG) or Wild Pig

On Friday, September 10, 2021, the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents posted their agenda and meeting materials for the September 16, 2021 meeting.  Included on the agenda was the report of the Tenure PIG.  Based on the February 18, 2021 BOR meeting, the Tenure PIGʻs purpose and scope was to review and investigate the issue of tenure in areas including the history and purpose of tenure at IHEs, particularly regarding the University of Hawai‘i (UH); the evolution of, and current views and developments on, tenure at institutions outside of UH; and the current process, criteria, and decision making on tenure at UH.  We question Tenure PIG Chair Ben Kudo whether the report submitted by the Tenure PIG meets the purpose and scope of its original intention.  Nevertheless, the following is UHPAʻs critique of the proposed changes to UH Regents Policy RP 9.201.

Symbolic or Sinister?

The Tenure PIGʻs findings and recommended changes to RP 9.201 Personnel Status is to align tenure with the mission and priorities of the University by ensuring that tenure is awarded to positions that will fulfill enrollment requirements and strategic growth priorities.  Based on this criteria the Tenure PIG recommended amending Section III. Policy, Paragraph B. Faculty Promotion and Tenure by adding the following criteria on awarding tenure:

2.   Before recruitment for tenure-track position occurs, and before award of tenure, the administration shall ensure that: (1) the position fulfills current enrollment requirements and strategic growth priorities for the university and the State: (2) there are no qualified faculty in other units that are available and that could meet the needs of the hiring unit; (3) the balance of tenure-track and other faculty is appropriate given enrollment, mission, and accreditation standards; and (4) the unit is successful and relevant in contributing to the institutional mission and goals.

3.  The administration shall ensure that tenure criteria are clear and that they prioritize the necessity for faculty to be adaptable in meeting the changing needs of students and the university, including changes in the delivery of higher education that may occur over time.

Based on initial review, some of the amendments appear to be a silent message to the UH administration demanding a reduction of tenure leading positions at the UH.  For the past several decades, the UH administration has been aimlessly reducing the amount of tenure leading positions under the guise of budgetary shortfalls and cuts due to the Stateʻs fiscal constraints.  Records reflect that tenure positions at UH are down over 25% from their peak.  Ironically, Executive/Managerial at UH has grown substantially over the same period of time.  

Thus, itʻs interesting for the Tenure PIG to note in its Resolution that “WHEREAS, the Task Group also acknowledges the fact that in recent years, the University has been steadily reducing the number of tenured faculty, and that tenure is still critical to attract, retain, and support University faculty;”  On one hand, the Tenure PIG acknowledges the importance and value of providing faculty with tenure, but on the other hand it recommends placing additional restrictions with vague and ambiguous criteria in order to grant tenure.  It reads illogical since they are not synonymous and harmonious with each other.  Reading between the lines interprets such changes as a directive to reduce tenure faculty.  We have many questions and concerns over using this measurement to determine the tenuring needs of the university

Which Tail is Wagging the Dog?

One of the criteria for awarding tenure is to base the position on whether it fulfills the strategic growth priorities for the university and the State.  Without any further details and explanation on what are the defined and approved strategic growth priorities, this statement is read solely as downsizing the number of tenured faculty to adapt to restraints and resources in a time of financial crisis which has been occurring over the past several decades.  We question: Which priorities have precedent?  The universityʻs or the State?  Who determines these strategic growth priorities for UH?  What happened to UHʻs autonomy and what priorities does UH have autonomy over?  What are the current priorities for the university and the State?  Do these priorities work collaborative together or do they conflict?  How often will these priorities change and are they defined by short and long term goals?  Bottom line.  We have many questions and concerns over using this measurement to determine the tenuring needs of the university.

Authoritarian Policy?

The second caveat is that before recruitment for tenure-track positions occurs and before the awarding of tenure, the administration shall ensure that there are no qualified faculty in other units that are available and that could meet the needs of the hiring unit.  Based on the vagueness of the language and the ambiguity that shines, is the Tenure PIG recommending that employees submit and be compelled to involuntary reassignments, transfers, demotions, relocations, etc. between units, departments, colleges, and campuses?  While Faculty support voluntary recruitment and promotion from within, the unclear purpose, intent, and application of this language is deeply concerning.  If there isn’t a clear understanding and recognition that such a policy would be subject to mandatory bargaining, that would be astonishing and unbelievable as well.  The skinny down 2 ½ page Report of the Permitted Interaction Group on Tenure that proposed the change doesnʻt provide any substance and/or clarification on its intent, purpose, and application.  We have many questions and concerns over using this measurement to determine the tenuring needs of the university.     

Recalibrating the Scale?

The third caveat is that before recruitment for tenure-track positions occurs and before the awarding of tenure, the administration shall ensure the balance of tenure-track and other faculty is appropriate given enrollment, mission, and accreditation standards.  While one can assume that consideration over enrollment, mission, and accreditation standards has and is already being done, the question here is what is meant and defined by the new stipulation of “balance”?  There is no clarification, definition, or meaning behind what balance of tenure-track and other faculty mean.  Does it mean that tenure positions shall be equally distributed among the different faculty classifications?  Or does “other faculty” mean non-tenure track faculty and a directive to reduce the amount of tenured faculty to equal non-tenure track faculty?  If so, would that practice meet the enrollment, mission, and accreditation standards of the UH?  Moreover, the importance and significance of accreditation is rightly acknowledged here because what impact, if any, positive or negative, will this have on UHʻs accreditations?  Interestingly, the Tenure PIG did acknowledge in their Resolution that tenure is still critical to attract, retain, and support University faculty.  We have many questions and concerns over using this measurement to determine the tenuring needs of the university.     

Sleight of hand?

The fourth caveat is that before recruitment for tenure-track positions occurs and before the awarding of tenure, the administration shall ensure that the unit is successful and relevant in contributing to the institutional mission and goals.  On face value, it sounds reasonable and practical since it has and is still occurring.  Thus, the question becomes is there more to this mandate that meets the eye?  Again, the skinny down 2 ½ page Report of the Permitted Interaction Group on Tenure that proposed the change doesnʻt provide any substance and/or clarification on its intent, purpose, and application.  We have many questions and concerns over using this measurement to determine the tenuring needs of the university.        

Unconscious or Insulting?

The other significant amendment is that the administration shall ensure that tenure criteria are clear and that they prioritize the necessity for faculty to be adaptable in meeting the changing needs of students and the university, including changes in the delivery of higher education that may occur over time.  

What facts and evidence was revealed during the Tenure PIGʻs investigation that one could make the determination that faculty as they currently exist (hired and developed under current criteria) are not “adaptable” especially “including changes in the delivery of higher education that may occur over time.”  Do we not realize that we are still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Have we all forgotten about how the UH administration ordered the immediate pivoting from in-person to on-line instruction that blindsided faculty given such short notice of the mandate, and how the majority of faculty only had one-week (i.e. Spring Break) to prepare, to implement a 180 degree change in pedagogy?  A practice that still remains largely in effect today as our communities and our State deals with the impact of COVID-19 variants.

If the situation that faculty are currently facing is not considered “adaptable” or “changing the delivery of higher education that may occur over time,” then what is being expected and meant by this new requirement from the Tenure PIG?  What is meant by being “adaptable?”  By whom will the changing needs of students and the university be declared in the future?  We have many questions and concerns over using this measurement to determine the tenuring needs of the university.        

Discord & Dysfunctional

Clearly, the proposed amendments overall do not really provide a clear and understandable solution to align tenure with the mission and priorities of the University to ensure tenure is awarded to positions that will fulfill enrollment requirements and strategic growth priorities as its stated objectives.  What is even more concerning is that many of the recommended changes, directives, processes, and outcomes regarding tenure are already established and outlined in existing BOR policy, namely RP 9.206 Faculty and Staff Renewal and Vitality Plans.  This BOR policy has been in effect and in existence for over the past 40 years in which all UH Administrators are required to follow and uphold.  Hence, the awarding of tenure has always been aligned with the mission and priorities of the University, including consideration for enrollment requirements and strategic growth priorities.

It’s interesting that former BOR Chair Kudo who was the Chair of the Tenure PIG and who has served as Regent since 2012, did not identify nor suggest any review, analysis, impact, changes, amendments to RP 9.206 or even its abolishment in this review.  This glaring omission of due diligence and neglect is compounded by the vagueness and cloudiness of the skinny 2 ½ page Report of the Permitted Interaction Group on Tenure which was to explain its findings and recommendations.  As a lawyer by profession, one would expect and demand more of former Chair Ben Kudo who has been a regent for almost a decade.

Message in a Bottle?

We question the entire findings and recommendations of the Tenure PIG.  We believe that there is insufficient information and clarification to provide any meaningful insight, knowledge, and understanding of what are the intentions and purpose for these changes to RPs 9.201, 9.202, and 9.213.  On its face it may seem benign to the layperson, but to faculty these changes are not only concerning – it’s threatening, belittling, and disrespectful all wrapped up in one.  The question we have here is who is the primary receiver of this message – the faculty or the UH administration.  If it’s the former, then why in this fashion and why disrupt the faculty by involving faculty in this matter.  However, if it’s the prior, you have definitely got facultyʻs attention and interest.  Be advised that faculty will be at the October 21, 2021 meeting ready and prepared to address their concerns.   

Lipstick Won’t Help This Tenure PIG Mess

Permitted Interaction Group (PIG) or Wild Pig

On Friday, September 10, 2021, the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents posted their agenda and meeting materials for the September 16, 2021 meeting.  Included on the agenda was the report of the Tenure PIG.  Based on the February 18, 2021 BOR meeting, the Tenure PIGʻs purpose and scope was to review and investigate the issue of tenure in areas including the history and purpose of tenure at IHEs, particularly regarding the University of Hawai‘i (UH); the evolution of, and current views and developments on, tenure at institutions outside of UH; and the current process, criteria, and decision making on tenure at UH.  We question Tenure PIG Chair Ben Kudo whether the report submitted by the Tenure PIG meets the purpose and scope of its original intention.  Nevertheless, the following is UHPAʻs critique of the proposed changes to UH Regents Policy RP 9.202.

Donʻt Forget What We Stand For

The University of Hawaii was founded in 1907 under the Morrill Act of 1862 and 1890 which allows States to set aside federal lands to create colleges to benefit the agricultural and mechanical arts.  These acts allowed for the creation of institutions of higher education focused on agricultural and mechanical arts without excluding other scientific and classical studies.  Today, land grant universities across the nation offer many other academic fields of study in addition to those of their required foundational focus on agriculture and mechanical arts.  While land grant university systems continue to evolve through federal legislation, the primary focus remains the same, which is the three-fold mission of its breadth, reach, and excellence in teaching, research, and extension.  The University of Hawaii is one of the one hundred and twelve (112) land grant institutions across the nation. Instructional, research, and extension agent faculty all fulfill, meet, and contribute to the University of Hawaii fulfilling the original legislative intent, mission, and vision of the Morrill Act.  

In addition, the 1969 Legislatureʻs transfer of the trade and technical schools from the Department of Education to the University of Hawaii Community College System ensured its continuation to fulfill the needs of Hawaiiʻs business and industry community.  Today, there are seven (7) community college campuses across the State in which community college Faculty provide essential services and support to its students such as instruction, continuing education and training, academic support, and counseling.  

We cannot and should not lose focus on the very foundation of why the University of Hawaiiʻs was originally created, how it has evolved, and what it stands for.

Wholesale Revamping the Faculty Classification System

The Tenure PIGʻs findings and recommended changes to RP 9.202 Classification Plans and Compensation Schedules is to simply reduce the type and number of tenure classification schemes to Tenured and Tenure Track Faculty, Librarians, Support Faculty and Extension Agents, Renewable Term Faculty, and Non-Compensated Faculty.  According to the Tenure PIGʻs report, they believe these changes might improve, modernize, and simplify the tenure classification system without further details, criteria, objectives, goals, and even explanation as to how it will improve and modernize for the benefit of the University.  Simplification in and of itself does not necessarily mean improving and modernizing.  Furthermore, it makes the erroneous assumption that what Faculty do and perform on a daily basis is basically simple.  As the saying goes, “If it were only that simple….”

Faculty are not interchangeable

Faculty are subject matter experts in their field of specialization and study which should be evident that each Faculty member brings to the table unique knowledge, skills, and expertise.  In addition, the business and operational needs and demands of Faculty at the community college versus the four year campus are distinctly different and unique.  Moreover, the Faculty at UH Manoa have different demands, expectations, and experience from the Faculty at UH-West Oahu and UH Hilo.  Because Faculty are all uniquely different, the UH has classified them according to their field of specialization and study and has developed a unique classification system for the faculty at UH Manoa, the faculty at UH-Hilo and UH-West Oahu, and for the faculty at the Community Colleges.  A simple glance at these classifications will reflect that there are different and diverse in the minimum qualifications and duties and responsibilities.  Thus, whether you change the classification schemes from “I”, “J”, “M”, “C”, and “R” to “F” for Tenured and Tenure Track Faculty you will still need to develop a “sub-classification” schemes to outline and define the minimum qualifications and duties and responsibilities for the faculty position.  This is essential for any organization since it plays an important role and factor in defining the hierarchy and salary structures of the organization.  It systematically groups the workforce effectively as per their duties, responsibilities, skills, and experience, thereby ensuring proper uniformity to the structure of the organization.  As the saying goes “You canʻt make a zebra by painting stripes on a horse.”

Making Faculty Universal

We question the reasoning and rationale behind the Tenure PIGʻs findings and recommended changes to RP 9.202 Classification Plans and Compensation Schedules.  The 2 ½ page report is invisible on any clarification and/or details over the intent and desired outcomes for changing the faculty classification plans other than to reduce the type and number of faculty classifications.  Is it the recommendation that all faculty at the UH be universal and equal among its peers?  Will the community college faculty be now expected to be equal and in alignment with the 4 year campus faculty in regards to minimum qualifications, duties and responsibilities, teaching equivalencies, compensation, etc.?  Is the intent to change all community college campuses into 4 year campusʻ like UH-West Oahu and UH-Hilo?  

Impacting Support Faculty and Extension Agents

The Tenure PIGʻs findings and recommended changes to RP 9.202 Classification Plans and Compensation Schedules advocates that Support Faculty and Extension Agents who are not engaged in direct instruction shall not be eligible for tenure but may be eligible for employment security characteristic of other public employees.  However, what those employment security characteristics are not described or defined, neither is defining how frequent or infrequent direction instruction must be performed to be determined as tenure or ineligible for tenure.

Nevertheless, we further question the Tenure PIGʻs recommendation and rationale on limiting tenure for Extension Agents when land grant universities are predicated on teaching, research, and extension especially in areas of agriculture and mechanical arts.  We question if there was any examination of whether there was a problem with granting tenure to Extension Agents and the impact both negative and positive that will become of the recommendations.  This matter should be examined if it wasnʻt as we should all be concerned about the impact this recommendation will have on the Universityʻs ability to fulfill its Extension promise.  Bottom line is that we have many questions surrounding all of the Tenure PIGʻs recommendations and rationale.

Are We Top Heavy?

History will show that all great and successful universities are led by their faculty who view intellectual production and pedagogy as their primary mission for higher education and not profit margins and/or the doing more with less mantra.  Unfortunately, over the past decade we have witnessed and experienced a growth and additional layers of administrators while our faculty positions and ranks have been diminishing under the premises of budgetary cuts.  Data and statistics reflect that just during 2016-2019 executive/managerial (E/M) positions at the UH increased 27%.  Woefully, during the period 2014-2021 UH faculty positions were decreased by 19%.  Adding further to the problem is these newly minted administrators have no academic background or experience and are mainly career managers who either downplay or disregard the importance of teaching, research, and service.  Sad to say but todayʻs modern universities are led by boards of corporate-minded regents and administrators who are profit-driven and entirely disconnected from faculty and the fundamental mission of why universities exist.

Here We Go Again On Tenure Battles

“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
— Winston Churchill

Permitted Interaction Group (PIG) or Wild Pig

On Friday, September 10, 2021, the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents posted their agenda and meeting materials for the September 16, 2021 meeting.  Included on the agenda was the report of the Tenure PIG.  Based on the February 18, 2021 BOR meeting, the Tenure PIGʻs purpose and scope was to review and investigate the issue of tenure in areas including the history and purpose of tenure at IHEs, particularly regarding the University of Hawai‘i (UH); the evolution of, and current views and developments on, tenure at institutions outside of UH; and the current process, criteria, and decision making on tenure at UH.  We question Tenure PIG Chair Ben Kudo whether the report submitted by the Tenure PIG meets the purpose and scope of its original intention.  Nevertheless, the following is UHPAʻs critique of the proposed changes to UH Regents Policy RP 9.213.

Destroying the basic tenets of tenure and academic freedom

On October 16, 1981, almost 40 years ago, the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents unilaterally adopted a policy entitled, Evaluation of Board of Regents Appointees, otherwise known today as RP 9.213, Evaluation of Board or Regents Appointees. This caused the UHPA to file a prohibited practice complaint (PPC) with Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB) alleging violation of Chapter 89, HRS, more specifically subsections §89-13 (a)(1), (2), (3), (5), and (8).  UHPA challenged the policy on the basis that it implemented a post-tenure review system, which, in effect, modified or eliminated the tenure rights of faculty members as set forth in the Unit 7 agreement that former UHPA Executive Director JN Musto proclaimed as “…aimed at destroying the basic tenets of tenure and academic freedom.”

Disguised as an assessment tool and not a rating instrument

The UH President at that time, Dr. Fujio Matsuda, stated that the policy would allow the administration to:

  1. Provide assurances to the University and its constituents that professional staff resources and particular areas of expertise are being used to the best advantage;
  2. Provide for the systematic recognition of excellence and develop incentives for superior performance, and
  3. Provide means for the improvement of performance in furtherance of the Universityʻs mission.

Dr. Matsuda also proclaimed that the proposed policy would not be a rating instrument per se, but an assessment tool to indicate strengths and weaknesses in an employeeʻs work. However, HLRB did not buy this argument. 

HLRB rules faculty evaluations are negotiable

HLRB Decision 199 specifically noted that “While we agree with the BOR that it may implement its evaluation procedures, we are not convinced that the impact of an “unsatisfactory” rating in and of itself would not affect working conditions to a degree so as to constitute a negotiable matter.” 

UH was required to negotiate with UHPA over the implementation of its desired five-year evaluation policy.  During the negotiations process, UHPA maintained its original position that while it did not disagree with the administration’s right to discipline tenured faculty members or to remove faculty members if they fail to perform their duties, the burden to show such failure solely rests with the administration and that other faculty peers should not be involved in the review process.  Furthermore, that it should not be considered a tenure review process or a reapplication of tenure since there should be an automatic presumption that a faculty member has met all the duties, responsibilities, requirements, and performance of a tenured faculty.

The UH administration and the UHPA essentially agreed a tenured faculty memberʻs five-year review will be an evaluation between the tenured faculty member and the respective Department Chair.  If itʻs deemed “satisfactory” by the Department Chair, a memo is sent to the Dean/Director for filing.  If itʻs deemed “unsatisfactory” by the Department Chair, the Department Chair and the tenured faculty member would develop a Performance Development Plan (PDP) that is then given to the Dean/Director.  In most situations, the PDP satisfactorily resolves the Department Chairs concerns and thereafter a memo is sent to the Dean/Director for filing.  In those unusual situations in which the PDP is unsuccessful, a memo is sent to the Dean/Director by the Chair depicting that the PDP hasnʻt met its desired outcome in addressing the tenured Faculty memberʻs performance concerns.  Thereafter, the five-year review process is closed and management can begin the process under the Unit 7 Agreement to begin taking appropriate administrative actions, including termination of a tenured faculty memberʻs appointment, for failure to meet the performance requirements of the position.

The five-year review has worked just fine

For the past 40 years, the five-year review under RP 9.213, Evaluation of Board or Regents Appointees has met its desired purpose and intent.  It provided the avenue that Dr. Matsuda was seeking through the negotiated process between the UH administration and UHPA.  

History will attempt to repeat itself

While every single historical moment is distinctly different from the past, if we do not learn from our mistakes, we risk the chances of repeating it.  Four decades later, we have a different political, social, and leadership climate.  Unfortunately, there are a few individuals interested in revisiting RP 9.213, Evaluation of Board or Regents Appointees to again bring into the conversation the ability for management to use it as a rating tool and to take disciplinary action against those tenured faculty members who they believe are not meeting the performance requirements of the position.  UHPA believes that this is an unnecessary and ill-advised tactic since we have already gone down this road and have already developed a pathway forward for the UH administration to follow.  Whether this is being driven by undue political interference, lack of knowledge or understanding, or just pure hubris, it is definitely a path that will only lead to confusion and uncertainty.  There is already a system in place that was developed through negotiations between the UH administration and UHPA that has worked for over four decades.  Is all this necessary?

One Senator builds. The other destroys. Which one did UH get?

A Study of Contrasts:
Lower Education Advocate, Higher Education Antagonist


Transparency and accountability. These are essential qualities we can demand and expect from our elected officials whom we vote into office and are given our trust that they individually will do the right thing for Hawai‘i’s people. Unfortunately, these essential qualities appear to be absent from legislators serving on the Senate’s Higher Education Committee. Navigating through the murkiness of their actions, though their shallow narratives and innuendos, may prove to be difficult to see things clearly.  However, when the haze and confusion clears, one thing is certain – their recent actions will pose significant challenges and harmful effects not only to the University of Hawai‘i faculty but the institution itself. 

Nothing escapes the attention or provokes the ire of the community faster than trying to introduce policies that cause more harm than good for a child’s education and future success. 


And for good reason. Access to a quality public education is a fundamental and Constitutional right for all children in Hawai‘i free from discrimination and irrespective of their family’s socioeconomic status. In addition, the Hawai’i educational system is very unique as it is a Statewide system rather than county or jurisdictional system.  An educational system — from preschool and through grade 12 — though highly qualified teachers and rigorous standards set the future foundation for children’s lives and chances of future success. It also serves as the bedrock for the pursuit of higher education and other potential career pathways.

Action that harm our children cannot stand

It often goes without saying that the children are our future, and thus, we must do everything we can to build and support a strong and supportive educational system for children. Any attempt to undermine or weaken the educational system is not only harmful to our keiki but will result in long term negative impacts on our community and society.  Actions that harm and diminish the value of education and the return of its investments must be immediately called into question and the individuals responsible for these ill-conceived policies must be called out.

Lower Education Advocate: Sen. Kidani

Hawai‘i families are fortunate to have a strong champion for our public education system in the legislature. Sen. Michelle Kidani has consistently shown to be a tough advocate for students, teachers, school staff and administrators, and their impacted communities – relentless and unafraid of sparring with the Department of Education and the Board of Education over policies and actions that run contrary to supporting a strong educational system.

Is this what good leadership looks like?

As an example, earlier this legislative session Sen. Kidani’s unwavering  support for our public education system was critical in ensuring and maintaining ongoing support and funding for the education of Hawai‘i’s children. When Hawai‘i learned additional federal funds would be available for the schools, Sen. Kidani and other key legislators were instrumental in passing a legislative bill that was designed to use such funds to address potential budgetary reductions including personnel costs at the school level to avoid potential layoffs, furloughs, or pay reductions. 

The bill stipulated the funds would be released to the Department of Education only after the Board of Education and superintendent certified that they agreed the funds would be used as outlined in these bills.

There was unanimous agreement among the Senate Education Committee, House Education Committee and the Hawaii State Teachers Association that the funds should be allocated for teachers first instead of tutors.

Higher Education Antagonist: Sen. Kim

Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, by contrast, is the antithesis of Sen. Kidani. While Sen. Kidani’s goal is clearly to build and support our lower education system, by all indications, Sen. Mercado Kim’s personal vendetta is to destroy Hawaii’s higher education system. Sen. Mercado Kim has introduced several bills that serve no other value or purpose other than to inflict unnecessary harm and to diminish value in the University of Hawai‘i system. For example, she questioned the value and purpose of tenure for faculty  (See “UHPA Defends Tenure at the Legislature”) . 

Jeopardizing the UH’s R1 Status 

By undermining the very foundation of our university and diminishing the important role of tenure to ensure academic freedom, she put the University of Hawai‘i — perhaps knowingly and purposefully — in a precarious position. By proposing to eliminate tenure for certain faculty, she would have jeopardized the University of Hawai‘i’s status as a Carnegie Research 1 institution.

Unfortunately, facts and evidence are not important for consideration in the eyes of Sen. Mercado Kim, who has been in the Senate since 2000. She has unfortunately either dismissed or misused information to create her own biased and false narratives to achieve her personal vendetta.

How can others let this stand?

Surprisingly and worrisome is that her fellow senators have not held her accountable or challenged her unfounded and unsubstantiated claims. They let her do as she pleases — perhaps as a consolation prize for having been unseated after serving as Senate President for two years.

But wait! There’s more. 

Read next week’s Monday Report for more details about Sen. Mercado Kim’s secretive, last-minute plan to eliminate fringe benefit payments for some University of Hawai‘i faculty.

UHPA publishes Faculty Statement of Principles

What is it we stand for?  

What principles guide our profession? What will we fight for? Where is our philosophical line in the sand which will not be crossed?

In discussing these questions, the UHPA Outreach Committee began a months-long process to develop this first release of UHPA Faculty Statement of Principles, based on four key commitments:

  • Academic Excellence
  • Success of Our Students
  • Serving the Community
  • Supporting the Local Economy

The UHPA Faculty Statement of Principles was developed in a collaborative effort including the UHPA Board of Directors, the UHPA Faculty Representatives, and our professional staff

Nominate your colleagues (or yourself) that exemplify community service

We all know that UHPA members make innumerable contributions to the community and one of our goals is to make sure the general public sees this as well.  Do you have good examples of how UHPA faculty have positively impacted the community (e.g. vaccination help, coastal preservation work, Economic forecast by the UHARI etc) ?  Tell us about it via this nomination form. We plan on regularly publishing those nominations and highlighting the standout examples. 

Feedback, please

We envision this first release to be just that: the first of many revisions based on continued input and feedback from a wider audience of UHPA members.  We invite all UHPA members to give us feedback and suggestions via this quick online form and look forward to the responses.

UHPA Defends Tenure at the Legislature

Legislative Bill to Eliminate Academic Tenure for Non-Instructional Faculty Thwarted 


A legislative bill that would have adversely impacted the quality of education at the University of Hawai‘i — and affect the ability to attract and retain high quality faculty — has been put on hold. UH faculty can now breathe a sigh of relief — for now.

SB 1328 proposed to eliminate academic tenure for all “non-instructional” faculty based on the premise that their primary duties and responsibilities do not involve instruction with a commitment to student achievement and success and that granting tenure for these positions requires a long-term commitment of public resources.

UHPA Requested to Prepare a Resolution on Academic Tenure

Over the past several weeks, the UHPA leadership has been engaged in a series of productive and respectful dialogue and conversations with Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, the Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee.  Based on UHPA recommendations, at a committee hearing last Tuesday, Feb. 16,  Sen. Mercado Kim deferred the bill and sought UHPA’s assistance to draft a resolution for the 2022 legislative session. UHPA plans to work collaboratively with the UH administration to develop a resolution for the committee to consider.

In its testimony, UHPA noted tenure for eligible faculty has been clearly outlined in collective bargaining agreements between UHPA and the UH Board of Regents since its first contract in 1975 and the subject of tenure is a cornerstone of bargainable matters under Hawaii’s collective bargaining law, Chapter 89, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

All of the other testimonies from both tenured and non-tenured faculty alike strongly opposed the bill including the University of Hawai‘i administration.

Dynamic, Multi-faceted Role of Faculty

Faculty also presented strong, compelling, and eye-opening rationale and reasons opposing the bill. Currently, Faculty are divided into different classifications based on their primary functions and some are classified with an “I” designation for “instruction.” However, these designations do not adequately and accurately convey the multi-faceted roles of faculty. Even if faculty are branded as “R” for “researcher” or “S” for “specialist,” they are still actively engaged in the instruction and provide a wealth of services and support functions focused on student achievement and success. This underscores that designations assigned to faculty do not truly reflect the diverse professional roles, responsibilities, and work they perform for the academy and the students that they serve.   

For example, research faculty mentors graduate students in the field or in laboratories, and specialists develop lesson plans, mix lectures with activities, discussion, and practice and work with distressed students or those with disabilities to insure their success. In this sense, all faculty are involved with instruction and significantly contribute to student achievement and success.

Miriam Stark, a UH anthropology professor, cited the significant contributions of faculty at the UH Cancer Research Center, UH Economic Research Organization, Water Resources Research Center and College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources that do not fit neatly into the definition of instructional faculty but overall contribute to student achievement and success.

Faculty also noted their roles are dynamic and ever changing to accommodate the needs and priorities of the university.  This makes the amount of instruction and service to student achievement and success fluid.

Purpose of Tenure

It’s important to reiterate the purpose of tenure: academic freedom for faculty. This is just as important for faculty members engaged in research as it is for an instructional faculty member. For example, tenure ensures faculty can engage in controversial research and instruction with impunity.

Another Potentially Overreaching Bill

In addition to the bill on academic tenure, the Senate Higher Education Committee also heard another bill (SB 1394), which would require that 25% of the UH research faculty’s salary be paid with extramural funds. The bill proposed to make it a requirement for all new grants,

contracts, and agreements that begin on July l, 2021, would have to stipulate that these extramural funds would be used to pay for the research faculty’s salary.

The intent of this bill was also a way to address the state’s budget, but UHPA pointed out that in the aggregate, extramural funding sources already make up more than 25% of the research faculty salaries. This bill was deferred and UHPA will collaborate with the UH administration to provide a report on this data.

How We Navigate Our Future at UH

The Power of Collaboration:

The Key to Navigating the University of Hawai‘i’s Future

By Christian Fern, Karla Hayashi and David Duffy

The pandemic, even with all of its devastating effects, has brought out the best in some organizations and its employees.

Pivoting has become the watch word throughout the pandemic. We have seen a number of organizations successfully adapt to new constraints. Organizations that are flexible and innovative have welcomed change instead of wallowing in despair. Many of these entities have rapidly evolved into better, more efficient organizations.

There is another quality inherent in these organizations that is often taken for granted: a commitment to collaboration and joint decision-making. Teamwork and consensus-building, based on a mutual respect of each other’s input are critical to successful change, especially in the face of the pandemic’s challenges.

The University of Hawai‘i is one of those organizations that showed it can evolve through the power of collaboration with faculty who are the best and brightest minds in a wide range of fields. The faculty also have a humility about them because they are committed to being life-long learners. Faculty have an intuitive sense that they don’t have a monopoly on knowledge. It is a gift to be freely shared to improve the quality of life for the community.

These faculty qualities were key to enabling the UH to transition from traditional in-person classroom instruction to an online learning environment in a one-week turnaround. About a dozen faculty partnered with the UH administration to ensure all 10 campuses could continue to carry on its instruction and operations safely and securely without interruption. The results? Students could continue their classes to fulfill graduation requirements. In 2020, a total of nearly 10,850 degrees and certificates were awarded to students from all 10 UH campuses statewide.

This was no small feat. It was an exhilarating experience that has left an indelible impression on the UH faculty. Even in the collective bargaining process for a successor faculty contract, which is now well underway, there has been an unprecedented level of collaboration and congenial discussion. The iterative process to refine and define the non-financial terms and conditions of the contract is rapidly progressing forward — without the usual contentious debate and distrust of each other. Actively listening to the concerns and perspectives of each other has been productive.

The response and results gave all of us at the UH a new vision of possibilities. As the UH figures out the best path forward, collaboration is more crucial than ever, especially since 60% of our funding comes from the state. With Hawaii’s $1.4 billion deficit and an economic recovery that many predict will take at least a few years, we need a meeting of the best minds. With faculty playing a key role in generating significant funding for research and support from tuition revenue, they deserve a seat at the decision-making table to ensure the ongoing success of the UH. 

We must tear down artificial walls and silos and we must create opportunities for both faculty and administration to come together to build a better future for the UH. We owe it to the students, now and those in the future, to ensure the UH can maintain its reputation as one of the top research universities in the nation and a school of choice for Hawai’i’s students.

Change is not what makes people unhappy. Faculty are intensely aware of the current financial realities in which the UH must operate. We know change is necessary. However, as with everyone else, faculty want to have a say in shaping their future. We believe any repositioning and reorganization of the UH approached carefully and collaboratively will yield the best results.

Christian Fern is executive director of the University of Hawai‘i Professional Association; Karla Hayashi is an English professor, University of Hawai‘i-Hilo and chair, UHPA negotiating committee; and David Duffy is a botany professor and graduate professor of zoology, ecology, evolution and conservation biology at University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa and UHPA negotiating committee member.