Kapiolani CC Chancellor Leon Richards Announces Retirement

On May 4, 2016 UHPA received a copy of a Kapiolani Community College letter from the Chancellor’s office announcing the retirement of Chancellor Leon Richards from his present position on May 15, 2016 and from UH on December 1, 2016.

Shrinking support for the chancellor

This announcement marks the end of a series of No Confidence votes on the chancellor and public Op-Eds. UHPA Members at Kapiolani Community College embarked on a long and arduous journey to bring about change on their campus and we commend them on completing their quest.

Rate My Administrator played a key role

Results from UHPA’s “Rate My Administrator” survey for Kapiolani CC was  used by their Faculty Senate in their letter to the faculty when announcing the approval of a motion to initiate a vote of no confidence. UHPA Executive director Kristeen Hanselman said, “The recent events by employees and students demonstrated that taking a stand to be treated with respect can make the KCC campus a better place to work and study. This effort by many to speak out and share their common experience is something that others can emulate to demand a better campus environment. KCC employees and students did good.”

Expressing the will of the faculty

UHPA’s leadership will continually explore methods and tools to enable the expression and realization of the will of the faculty in the long-standing tradition of shared governance in higher education. We commend the Kapiolani Community College community in having the courage to voice their views and take appropriate action to improve their conditions.

Document History related to the retirement announcement

Why I voted no confidence on Dr. Richards at Kapiolani CC

I first began teaching at KCC in 1989. Since then I have moved from being a part time lecturer teaching multiple disciplines to a full professor and the current Chair of the Arts and Humanities Department. I voted no confidence on a personal level because I have watched myself and many of my colleagues shift slowly and inexorably from professionals who joyfully engaged students, sharing our passion for the subjects we teach, to feeling like we must put our heads down, disengage and just treat our profession like a job. The accompanying apathy and cynicism I felt was simply too distasteful.

On a more professional level I have discovered since becoming department Chair of one of the largest units on campus, that I had been placed in an untenable situation due to what seems clearly to be inaction and ineptitude on the part of the KCC administration over many years and across several prior department chairs. The atmosphere I walked into was one of hostility and manipulation. I believe I have been lied to and used as a pawn in the administration’s broader agenda because under Dr. Richards’ leadership fundamental problems, which have been widely acknowledged by virtually all those involved, could not be resolved.

If Dr. Richards is genuinely shocked by the current state of affairs, then he is out of touch with the sentiments of a large body of the KCC “ohana.” He is not the engaged leader he envisions himself to be and those most close to him have served him poorly by allowing him to think he had broad support. The vote of no confidence has been a long time coming. Many efforts over many years have been made to communicate low faculty morale and the myriad problems and frustrations many experience in their daily work life at KCC. These efforts have been met with deflection, derision and dismissal.

Yes, numbers can be manipulated but the consistent 3 to 1 or greater margins registered by all four groups that raised the issue of no confidence sends a clear and unambiguous message to Dr. Richards, Vice President Morton, President Lassner and the Board of Regents. I am proud of what my campus has done. This is not a time to negotiate but to reiterate: Dr. Richards must leave.

Sharon Rowe, PhD, MFA
Professor of Philosophy
Chair of Arts and Humanities
Member of the KCC ‘Ohana