Does the University of Hawaii even need a new president?
That’s the argument being raised by the university’s faculty union — the University of Hawaii Professional Association. UHPA has for years urged UH to overhaul its governance structure, including eliminating the president’s post, so it can better manage its finances and establish clearer, more efficient lines of authority.
UHPA leaders and other critics say the current structure, which includes one university-wide president and a chancellor for each of the 10 campuses, is a recipe for dysfunction. They cite vague relationships among the president, chancellors and Board of Regents and “administrative redundancy,” among other systemic flaws.
J.N. Musto, UHPA’s executive director, says the delegation of tasks, such as oversight and control of the athletics program, is muddled, often making it confusing as to which administrator is accountable for specific duties.
“The paradigm in management is you can delegate authority but you can’t delegate responsibility,” he said. “That’s worked the other way around here.”
WE ARE UH! ALL OF US!
It has been embarrassing for University of Hawaii faculty to watch our UH in the headlines these past several months. More recently we had the sudden retirement of President M.R.C. Greenwood. All in all, not a good spring.
But it wasn’t the headlines that were the really important news. Through all the scandal and controversy, professors and students came and went to classes. Researchers were busy in their labs. Outreach staff found ways to improve the health of children and to keep farmers on the land. Financial officers and other staff took care of the logistics to keep teaching and research going. Last but not least, the craftsmen fought a holding battle against a decaying infrastructure in aging buildings, keeping the lights on and the toilets flushing—small things until they stop working.
And all this work has a payoff: these last two weeks thousands of students on UH campuses have received degrees and are better prepared to make their way in the work force. Their hard work and ingenuity will add billions of dollars to the islands’ economy and to supporting the society that helped educate them and will help educate their children. Since last June, faculty have brought in about $153 million in research money and another $142 million for more applied projects—all in one of the toughest funding environments in years.
If you think about it, UH has done a pretty good job. UH has graduated decades of good people who have helped transform Hawaii from plantations to a modern society. It has distinguished alumni who range across politics and law, science and medicine, the arts, business and sports. Its graduate programs generated our present governor and indirectly a president of the United States.
So why aren’t we proud of UH? Where is the feeling of alma mater (“nurturing mother” in Latin) that reduces alumni from mainland colleges to tears when they sing their college songs? We lack that.
In Hawaii, we are many small groups, each wanting a different part of UH for our own goals, with little or no regard for the whole. Some want cheap tuition and a good education; some want a winning football team; some want an economic engine to drive the state economy; others want a scientific powerhouse. In the middle of the Pacific, UH has to be all things to all of us, so we all have to work together or the parts may not survive on their own.
Governor John Burns warned that we have a sense of inferiority—thinking outside is better. We hire a lot of administrators from the mainland and many take root, proving to be island-centric, humble hires willing to listen and learn, to serve and to lead, but not to dictate. Too often, however, UH imports administrators who stay for five years, then move on to the next unsuspecting university, crowing of their accomplishments back at UH.
We have to change how we pick administrators. We need to look for administrators who can help our campuses reach for academic excellence while retaining their roots in our communities. We need administrators who can form coalitions across the various interest groups. We need administrators who, above all, will argue for and create quality. We need administrators, backed by students and faculty, willing to argue with the Legislature to their last breath, that the University of Hawaii is our islands’ last, best hope.
If we do these things, UH will begin to have a sense of alma mater, of a whole greater than today’s conflicting forces. It won’t be fast or flashy, but our children and our children’s children will thank us for it.
Someday, if I live long enough, I would hope to hear someone in the Legislature stand up in defense of UH and say, as Daniel Webster long ago declared to the U.S. Supreme Court about his own alma mater, “It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet there are those who love it!”
Our future and our children deserve no less.
David Duffy, Ph.D., is President of the Board of Directors of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, which is the sole bargaining agent for nearly 4,000 UH faculty. He has been a professor of botany at the University of Hawaii-Manoa since 1998. Duffy also serves as director of the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit since 2004. He is responsible for generating $150 million from more than 950 federal, state and private grants and creating more than 300 jobs.
As a part of the negotiations that lead to the Article IV. FACULTY PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES AND WORKLOAD, the standard teaching assignments for full-time instructional Faculty at all Community Colleges was reduced from 30 Semester Credit Hours per academic year, to 27 Semester Credit Hours. In addition, the parties agreed to review, evaluate, and recommend the application of teaching equivalencies for instructional activities not solely based on SCH, e.g., vocational courses, science laboratories, and art studios, and also the teaching equivalencies granted for non-instructional activities, e.g., faculty governance, curriculum development, and department or division chair duties. These teaching equivalencies do not apply to those Faculty whose primary duties, i.e., student counseling or librarian, that are non-instructional. The teaching equivalencies address the instructional aspects of BOR Policy 9-16.
The CC TE Report includes two Appendices, one describing the instructional teaching equivalencies, by campus and individual, for the 2010-2011 academic, and the non-teaching equivalencies for the same academic year. It is the committee’s recommendation that these reports continue to be aggregated for each campus as the new policy is implemented. One of the most important aspects of the Committee’s work was discovering the differences and variations between campuses in the allocation of teaching equivalencies, and continued transparency can only further the refinement of the policy in future years.
UHPA is also including a Petition that was signed by a number of science faculty members from various campuses and sent to Vice President Morton last November, prior to competition of the Joint Committee’s Report in late January. The members of the Committee spent a significant amount of time discussing the request that science lab clock hours be counted as a 1:1 ratio with Semester Credit Hours. In the end, there was no consensus within the Committee to acceptance of the 1:1 ratio, although as a function of the change in the standard teaching assignment to 27 SCH per academic, the laboratory teaching equivalencies were increased by 10%, as were other clock hour based instructional activities, e.g., culinary arts. This required a recommendation that would allow for the banking of teaching equivalencies, including fractional counts, until they equaled the full reduction of a course, or the payout of the banking if course reductions were not feasible.
It is expected that Vice President Morton will write a Teaching Equivalency policies consistent with the recommendations of the Joint Committee.