BOR Drops The PIG And The Curtain Gets Pulled Back

At Thursday’s (2/17/2022) BOR meeting, the BOR voted to adopt the Report of the Senate Concurrent Resolution 201 (2021) Task Force and to disregard the findings and recommendations of the dissolved Tenure PIG (Permitted Interaction Group).  By the BORʻs vote on Thursday, it sends a clear message to the Senate that the BOR doesnʻt support the action proposed by the Findings and Recommendations of the Dissolved BOR Tenure PIG.

Moreover, as a governing body that by Constitution is granted authority, power, and exclusive jurisdiction over the internal structure, management, and operations of the university, they have decided that it is in the best interest of the University of Hawai‘i to follow the recommendations as detailed in the Report of the Senate Concurrent Resolution 201 (2021).

Jan Sullivan Exposed

Based on the BORʻs decision, it provides the clarity UHPA was seeking as to the genesis of SB 3269.  Thursday’s BOR action clearly revealed that the BOR is not supportive of the legislation introduced by Senator Donna Mercado-Kim and dispels the narrative that this bill was proposed by the now dissolved BOR Tenure PIG.  Only one former BOR member testified in support of the bill, connect the dots and the picture will be revealed for all to see..

And Senator Donna Mercado Kim Exposed

At the Senate HRE Hearing on February 10, 2022, Senator Donna Mercado Kim directly accused UHPA of inciting fear and scare tactics in UHPAʻs Newsflash to its membership, and openly took offense at UHPAʻs assertion that “The bill is an attempt by Senator Donna Mercado Kim, Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education to interject the Legislature into the constitutionally established role of the UH Board of Regents by taking away the exclusive jurisdiction over the internal structure, management and operation of the UH, thereby granting themselves as the governing body of the Board of Regents.”  further stating that “Now, this measure was again, proposed by the Board of Regents permitted action group.”

Proof That DMK Wants to Dismantle the BOR

However, on February 8, 2022, Senator Donna Mercado Kim as  Chair of the Senate HRE Committee, without any open public discussion or conversation, unilaterally amended SB 3186 with a draft SB 3186, SD 1, by proposing a Constitutional Amendment to change Article X, Section 6. of the Hawaii State Constitution, relating to the powers of the BOR to eliminate the BORʻs “exclusive” jurisdiction over the internal structure, management, and operation of the university.  This recent action taken by Senator Donna Mercado Kim further supports UHPAʻs claim that the Senator is trying to assume the constitutional power and authority granted to the BOR and to become its governing body.  Actions truly speak louder than words.     

Senator Fevellaʻs Alternative Facts

Where Does He Get This From?

Based on last weekʻs Senate HRE hearing on SB 3269, SD 1, UHPA performed its own due diligence in researching various statements and comments offered by Senator Kurt Fevella when he questioned testifiers by making the statement “I donʻt know what they was <sic> reading?” 

No, Taxpayers Don’t Pay for All of UH

In Senator Fevellaʻs public statement that “…the State of Hawaii is the only one that pays for everything by the taxpayer” we can only assume the context of his comment was as it applies to funding of the University of Hawaii (UH).  However, that public statement is by far the furthest from the truth.  While we all wish the legislature  funded all of the UH, the legislature appropriates about 60% of the total funds to operate the UH. 

We Are, By Definition, a Public University

The UH is no different from other public research universities (and there is at least one in every state) across the country.  In fact, the term public research university is actually defined as a “research intensive, doctorate-granting institutions that receive a share of funding from state and local appropriations an serve as a critical component of the overall higher education landscape.”  This definition of a public research university is found in the 2012 Report  by the National Science Board (NSB) that was submitted to both the President and Congress.  Public research universities play a distinct and indispensable role in producing research and scholarship, enhancing economic development and technical assistance to our communities, states, and our nation, as well as opportunities for anchor-institutional collaborations.  The difference between public and private research universities is that public research universities are charged and expected to equally address all these roles together as effectively, efficiently, and affordably as possible.

This is What Public Research Universities Do

While UHPA may not agree with Senator Fevellaʻs statement on the overall funding of the UH, we hope that Senator Fevella agrees with the importance of public research universities which are that they: 

  • Initiate the fundamental research that drives scientific and technological discovery; 
  • Educate and train the skilled workforce of tomorrow; 
  • Prepare school teachers and faculty for the classroom; 
  • Are stewards and repositories of human knowledge; and most importantly 
  • Equip the next generation of leaders and policy makers with the knowledge, skills, and education to lead a twenty-first century democracy with honor and empathy.

Which Universities is he Talking About?

In regards to Senator Fevellaʻs statement that, “The researchers that we talk about, that weʻre talking about and the oneʻs thatʻve been talking, they donʻt bring in 80% of their research fund.  Most of the colleges in the mainland does require that” UHPA is assuming that Senator Fevella is referring to public research universities and not colleges as he referenced in his statement.  

Uh, Colleges Don’t Do Research. Universities Do

For clarification, colleges across the nation do not normally employ research faculty and neither do any of the colleges under the UH system.  While the word “college” doesnʻt have the same meaning in every country, in the United States the term college is normally used to define smaller education institutions that offer undergraduate/Bachelorʻs degrees, associate degrees, or certificates.  On the other hand, “universities” in the US are normally defined as larger education institutions that offer both undergraduate and graduate/postgraduate degree programs, while “research universities” are a subset of doctoral degree-granting institutions that conduct research.

UH Manoa is in Rare Company

More significantly for UH Manoa, it has obtained the distinguished Carnegie Research I designation (very high research activity – and one of only 146 private and public institutions granted such designation) that per the 1994 edition of the Carnegie Classification system is defined as:

  • Offer a full range of baccalaureate programs
  • Are committed to graduate education through the doctorate
  • Give a high priority to research
  • Award 50 or more doctoral degrees each year
  • Received annually $40 million or more in federal support.

And Yes, Our Researchers Pick Up Most Of the Tab

As noted in the UHʻs report (Report to Examine and Assess the University of Hawaiiʻs Tenure System) to the 2022 Legislature per SCR 201, SD1, HD1, (2021), it reflected that for Research faculty at UH Manoa who are not tenured or on a tenure track, only 5% of their funds are received through the State general funds, and 75% is expected of the researcher to cover.  In all, 3% is from Tuition & fees special fund, 5% from Research & training revolving fund, 12% from other funds which covers the remaining 20% in question.

Senator, Kindly Point Out Where You Got Your Facts From, Please

Thus, while UH Researchers are accountable for 75% of their extramural funds, we couldnʻt locate any public research R-1 universities in the mainland that require the 80% requirement as referenced and maintained by Senator Fevella.  UHPA respectfully requests that Senator Fevella share what he was reading when he made the above-referenced statement.

Mystery Remains on Hearing’s Details

Re: SB 3269 SD 1

Where is Jan Sullivan’s Missing Testimony?

While an NFL Superbowl LVI Champion was crowned, restaurants and florists inundated with reservations and deliveries on Valentines Day meet the challenge, and as the US moved up from 6th place to 3rd place on the 2022 Winter Olympic medal counts, there is still no posting, access, or availability on the Hawaii State Legislature’s website to obtain former Board of Regent member Jan Sullivan’s testimony on SB 3269, SD 1.  Since former Regent Sullivan continued to reference her written testimony during the hearing, inquiring minds are interested to read the contents of her written testimony as it was referenced many times during her testimony and questioning.  

Does Oceanit Have An Interest Here?

It’s perplexing that this is supposed to be an open public hearing and not just a one way listening session.  While the majority of all testimonies were posted on the website, including LATE testimonies, so how is it that former Regent Sullivan’s testimony remains elusive and missing?  As the Chief Operating Officer for Oceanit, we do recognize that former Regent Sullivan has a vested, if not, personal interest in all matters surrounding the UH.

Who Asked Who?

Senate Higher Education Committee Chair Donna Mercado Kim continues to stand by her statement that this isn’t an act by the Legislature to impose their will on the Board of Regents (BOR). The only Republican on the HRE, Senator Fevella, supported HRE Committee Chair Kim’s statement that, “we did not come up with this Bill as stated by Ms. Sullivan.”  (1:08:08) Chair Mercado Kim explained in an email to a UHPA Faculty Member that:

“This measure was introduced for a couple of reasons: 

(1) Outlining the recommendations of the Board of Regents’ “permitted interaction group” (PIG) that was charged with evaluating the institution’s tenure system and set forth ideas for reform and improvement to allow public discussion on the Regents report

(2) The UH administration failed to meet the deadline of January 4, 2022 (10 days before the convening of the Legislature) to report on SCR 201 Report to Examine and Assess the University of Hawaii’s Tenure System so it could not be introduced in a bill as the bill introduction deadline was Jan.26, 2022.”

Where’s The BOR PIG Written Testimony In Support Of SB 3269?

At the hearing, Chair Mercado Kim stated that SB 3269 was proposed by the BOR PIG (32:50-32:56).  In review of all the testimonies posted on the Legislature’s website, there were no written testimonies available from any of the BOR PIG members.  Again, the BOR PIG consisted of BOR members Jan Sullivan, Ben Kudo, Ernest Wilson, Robert Westerman, UH officials Deb Halbert, Bonnie Irwin, Erika Lacro, Brennon Morioka, Velma Kameoka, and UHPA Executive Director Christian Fern.  

Other than BOR PIG member Jan Sullivan verbally testifying in support of the bill, there were no other individuals of the BOR PIG who submitted written testimony in support of the bill or at least there was none posted, referenced, or recognized by Chair Mercado Kim.

Again, who asked who to introduce this bill?

Where is Ben’s Testimony?

Former BOR Chair Ben Kudo (Attorney Ashford & Wriston) only provided oral testimony on the proposed SB 3269, SD 1, and was cut off before he had a chance to state his position in support or opposition. He only got as far as testifying that the BOR did NOT act on the PIG recommendation. 

Are You For, Or Against This, Ben?

UHPA asks that Regent Kudo clarify his position over SB 3269, SD 1, and whether he was speaking on behalf of the BOR, a member of BOR PIG, or as an individual.  As a standing member and current Vice Chair of the BOR, Regent Kudo’s position needs to be identified to determine his standing when testifying on this measure.

In solidarity we stand!

A Sham of a Hearing (SB 3269 SD 1)

The Facts of What Really Happened

We went through the recording of the SB3269 hearing and pulled out important soundbites you need to know. In UHPA’s opinion, this was an example of collusion at its finest and the epitome of a rigged hearing. There was unanimous written opposition to the bill. Its sole support came from former Board of Regents (BOR) member Jan Sullivan whose written testimony continues to remain elusive and invisible. 

We’ve extensively hyperlinked to relevant sections of the videotaped hearing along with timestamps in YouTube so you can see and hear this yourself. 

Chair Kim Calls Out UHPA

Senate Higher Education Committee Chair Donna Mercado Kim started the meeting on SB 3269, SD 1 by calling out UHPA on its member communications saying that the measure was not action taken by her or the legislature.  Chair Mercado Kim stated that the measure was proposed by the Board of Regents (BOR) Permitted Interaction Group (PIG), and that it was not the Legislature’s attempt to take away or insert themselves over the BOR. Chair Mercado Kim was referring to the UHPA newsletter (32:18-32:51) that is posted on the UHPA webpage. 

Jan Sullivan Referencing Written Testimony That Doesn’t Exist

At the start of Thursday’s Senate Higher Education Committee (HRE) meeting, there was posted online a total of 579 pages of written testimony on the proposed SB 3269, SD 1. All written testimony posted online at the time of the hearing were opposed to the HRE passing proposed SB 3269, SD 1. During oral testimony, Senate HRE Chair Donna Mercado Kim called on former BOR member Jan Sullivan (Chief Operating Officer Oceanit) and former BOR Chair (and current BOR member) Ben Kudo (Attorney Ashford & Wriston) to provide their oral testimony on the proposed SB 3269, SD 1. Sullivan expressed strong support for the bill and continuously referenced her written testimony (34:49), while ironically BOR Kudo only stated facts, did not take a position, and did not submit any written testimony.  

For many of us who looked through all the written testimonies submitted prior to the hearing, it was bewildering to comprehend since Sullivan’s written testimony was non-existent or available online.  It could’ve been written in invisible ink and contained in some of the blank pages in the 579 pages of written testimonies submitted.    

Sullivan Criticizes the Board of Regents (Where She Served)

While being questioned by HRE Chair Donna Mercado Kim about the Board of Regent’s Permitted Action Group (PIG), Sullivan criticized the BOR for not performing its responsibilities for granting tenure. Sullivan stated that at one time the BOR used to act on tenure and promotions, but she objected because she believed the BOR had no idea what they were approving.  Sullivan stated that they had no background on individuals, how it was justified and prioritized, and thought it did not make sense for the BOR to perform those functions. Thus, the policies were changed to delegate those responsibilities to the UH President (i.e. because of their lack of understanding, knowledge, and experience with tenure the BOR removed themselves from the process). Wow?! After more than a decade (serving two (2) five-year terms as a BOR appointee), a reasonable person might come to expect that any long-term serving Regent would at least have a basic understanding of academic tenure. (58:29-59:38)

Board of Regents Double Talk?

During former BOR Chair Ben Kudo’s oral testimony, he testified that the BOR voted not to take any action on the PIG recommendations because the SCR 201 Task Group had not been formed and when he tried to explain the recommendations of the SCR 201 Task Force, Sen. Mercado Kim abruptly cut off former BOR Chair Kudo (36:17-37:47) saying his time was up.  Again, Regent Kudo only offered to state the facts and didn’t take a position on the measure. 

Since the BOR didn’t submit any written or oral testimony, the question is: Was Regent Kudo speaking on behalf of the BOR or as an individual?  Regent Kudo didn’t qualify and/or clarify who he was speaking for or on behalf of during his oral testimony.  Was his testimony on behalf of the BOR in support of SB 3269, SD1, or was it his own personal testimony in support of SB 3269, SD1, in which the BOR has yet to take action on these recommendations? Or was he trying to provide background information but was prohibited from continuing?

Who From the PIG Actually Proposed This?

Chair Mercado Kim explained that SB 3269 was proposed by the BOR PIG (32:50-32:56).  The BOR PIG consisted of BOR members Jan Sullivan, Ben Kudo, Ernest Wilson, Robert Westerman, UH officials Deb Halbert, Bonnie Irwin, Erika Lacro, Brennon Morioka, Velma Kameoka, and UHPA Executive Director Christian Fern.  However, only BOR PIG member Jan Sullivan testified in support of the measure.  In the spirit of transparency, honesty, and openness of elected officials, one should provide further clarification on who specifically asked the Legislature to introduce SB 3269.  Whether it was several, all, or just one of the BOR PIG members who asked for its introduction, and/or whether it was approved by the BOR as a body of the whole.  It is clear and evident that the BOR didn’t submit any written or provide any oral testimony on SB 3269, SD1.  Thus, there are serious, unanswered questions regarding who specifically supported and authorized the introduction of SB 3269 from the BOR. 

Senator Kurt Fevella: A Must LISTEN 

During questioning, Senator Kurt Fevella at the end of the hearing went into a rant (1:05:09 – 1:08:36) about how he personally felt about: 1) the individuals testifying in opposition of the bill; 2) why he believes the bill will improve the quality of life for everyone at UH; 3) how he didn’t appreciate the individuals testifying in opposition spreading false narratives and bad mouthing Chair Mercado Kim; 4) UH researchers cannot perform legitimate research work if they are not physically on site; 5) how our State pays for everything and that UH is the only university in the nation that is funded by state funds or taxpayer monies; 6) that UH researchers don’t bring in 80% of their research funds in which most colleges in the mainland require that of their researchers; 7) that the Hawaiian community didn’t get their facts straight, that their arguments are based on a false premises, that there tenured colleagues from the other campuses told them to testify on this bill, and said in the end to remember We was here for you guys; and 8) all this is being done to save “some” taxpayer money. 

Union Solidarity Demonstrated 

UHPA and its over 3,185 members across the State sends a shout out with deep appreciation and gratitude for the support provided by our fellow unionized brothers and sisters who submitted testimony in opposition to SB 3269, SD 1, on behalf of UHPA:

  • Hawaii Government Employees Association, AFSCME, Local 152
  • State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers
  • Hawaii Nurses’ Association, OPEIU, Local 50
  • Hawaii State AFL-CIO
  • United Public Workers, AFSCME, Local 646
  • Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, Inc. 
  • International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, Local 665
  • Hawaii Fire Fighters Association, Local 1463 
  • Graduate Student Organization 

Our fellow unionized brothers and sisters understand that this bill encroaches on public employees constitutionally protected collective bargaining rights guaranteed by the Hawaii State Constitution, and that an injury to one is an injury to all.   

The Fight Has Just Begun

The bill now heads to the Senate Ways and Means (WAM) Committee.  UHPA will keep you apprised of the next steps through our News Flashes to your inbox. You can catch up any time via our website article archives.

In Solidarity We Stand!

TODAY: Watch SB3269’s hearing LIVE

The Moment Has Arrived

Today at 3pm, the Committee on Higher Education will be holding a public hearing and broadcasting it live via YouTube

Democracy Belongs to Those That Show Up

One silver lining of COVID restrictions is that we can now all attend public hearings remotely.   Use this opportunity to virtually show up.  Go to this YouTube link at 3pm today and let it play on your desktop or mobile device. 

Let’s Break Youtube Viewing Records

A quick glance of the Senate’s YouTube channel shows previous hearings with a few hundred views at most.  UHPA members are in the thousands.  Let’s all “show up” as a sign of solidarity for the future of higher education in Hawai‘i and blow out the views.  

Share your commentary via Facebook

We created this post which also links to the hearing video.  If you are watching the hearing (either live or after the fact) and come across something notable (good, bad, ugly, or otherwise) please post your commentary on this Facebook Post.  For extra points, add the time stamp on the video at your notable moment so that others can go to that point in the hearing and see what you saw. 

All Your Hard Work Is Now

We’ve had countless, non-stop emails and messages from you that see the danger being posed. You’ve worked hard to write and submit your testimony. Attending live and watching this drama unfold is our next step. Join us! 

ICYMI – get caught up

I)n C)ase Y)ou M)issed I)t , catch yourself up on this issue and read this collection of articles we published since Jan 31.

Don’t Play Sen. Donna Mercado Kim’s Game

Sen. Donna Mercado Kim is at it again.

SB 3269, SD 1, a revised version of the bill relating to academic tenure at the UH, stealthily attempts to diminish the recognition and importance over the cornerstones of academia – namely academic governance, shared governance, and academic consultation of UH faculty.  The bill will ultimately undermine the existing UH shared governance structure that ensures that faculty rights are protected and more importantly that faculty voice is recognized.  It’s an unprecedented and underhanded attempt by the Legislature to gain full control and authority over the University of Hawaiʻi.  

Don’t fall for it

The bill is an attempt by Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, to interject the Legislature into the constitutionally established role of the UH Board of Regents by taking away their exclusive jurisdiction over the internal structure, management, and operation of the UH – thereby granting themselves as the governing body over the Board of Regents.  On the surface, the revised version of the bill appears to be benign by making minor concessions to certain classifications of UH faculty.  However, the bigger picture is that under R-20, Roles and Consultation Protocols Involving UH Administration, UH Professional Assembly, and UH Faculty Senates, of the Unit 7 Agreement, such matters as faculty classification, faculty five-year periodic review, and topics that impact faculty which are all subject to a shared governance structure will be swept away with this legislation.  Thereafter, what will stop the legislature from coming back year after year seeking to remove Faculty voice in the determination of academic programs, mission, strategic planning direction, goals, assessments, faculty criteria, etc.  This is nothing other than a veiled attempt for the Legislature to trump the authority of the Board of Regents in that they can meddle and control the UH. This must be stopped before going any further.

The Legislature, as a governing body, should not be involved in any type of UH policymaking. That is a recognized responsibility and jurisdiction of the UH administration and UH Board of Regents. This bill is nothing other than a vehicle for the Legislature to establish itself as a supra-Board of Regents, supplanting the authority granted to the UH Board of Regents. It also sets a dangerous precedent that allows the Legislature to usurp the authority of not only the Board of Regents but also the UH administration. The Legislature’s track record has shown it doesn’t have requisite knowledge, expertise, and understanding of a higher education system nor appreciate the nuances of an academic environment.  Taking away core principles of academia such as academic governance and shared-governance will strip away the voice of faculty in their work, their occupation, and the academy they serve.  

Taking away what you already have

Through the UHPA and contractually established collective bargaining rights, faculty have a voice in shaping their future and how the academy operates and functions in order to prepare its students for productive employment in the State’s workforce and to become engaged citizens of our community.  By allowing the Legislature to become the primary entity that governs the UH, all policies, procedures, rules and regulations will eventually all be converted and codified in statute. The role of the Faculty Senates will become obsolete and the faculty’s ability to discuss concerns and recommend any changes with UH administration and the UH Board of Regents will cease to exist. 

UHPA urges UH faculty to use your VOICE in opposition to this bill before your VOICE is stolen by these Legislators.  

Take Action Now on SB 3269

Hearing Set for Thursday at 3:00pm

We told you that Senator Donna Mercado Kim was going to pull a fast one on  SB 3269 and here it is: she introduced an amendment earlier with SB 3269, SD1 and it’s scheduled for a hearing this Thursday, February 10, 2022, at 3:00 p.m. in Conference Room 229 and video conference.

Our Analysis of SD1 Will Be Posted

UHPA is currently analyzing the changes made to SB 3269, SD1, and will be posting our analysis and impact of the proposed changes.

But Don’t Wait. Your Testimony Submission is a Must

We need you to submit written testimony (via the button on the bill’s page) and/or testify via videoconference (how-to details here) and you must do so at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the Thursday 3pm hearing which means your deadline is this Wednesday 3pm. 

Do it now. 

If you are planning to submit written testimony, we encourage you to work on your draft now and submit your testimony before the 24 hour deadline.  

In solidarity we stand!

Don’t let DMK Pull A Fast One on US

Take Action Right Now If You Care About UH’s Future

UHPA has received reliable intel that the Senate Committee on Higher Education (HRE) will be scheduling SB 3269 for a hearing early next week and HRE Chair Senator Donna Mercado Kim plans to post the hearing notice late Friday (2/4/22) evening.

Your Testimony is a Must

We need you to submit written testimony and/or testify via videoconference and you must do so at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the hearing. 

Pulling a Fast One?

There is a possibility that HRE Chair Senator Donna Mercado Kim may schedule the bill to be heard as early as Tuesday, February 8, 2022.  Thus, all written testimony and/or registration for verbal testimony must be done on Monday, February 7, 2022, and at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled hearing.  

Start Drafting Testimony Now

If you are planning to submit written testimony, we encourage you to work on your draft as soon as possible in that you will be prepared to submit the testimony before the 24 hour deadline.  We will keep you apprised of the issuance of the hearing notice.

In solidarity we stand!

 

Some ideas on How to Testify

In response to your requests, we’ve created a detailed template for SB3269 that you can use as inspiration for your own testimony.  Please do not copy/paste – use this to get you started and come up with your own voice and own reasons for why you oppose this bill!

Slide Deck Published

UHPA Members can download a PDF of the slide deck that was used at our recent Emergency Briefing. 

 

Note: All linked content is for UHPA Members only

Sample Template Published for SB3269

Record Breaking Attendance 

Mahalo to the close to 500 faculty members who participated in the UHPA Emergency Briefing on SB 3269 yesterday.  We hope that the information we shared provides the background and context you need to prepare your letters, emails, and eventually, testimony, to kill SB 3269.

Email template developed

We understand that this is a complex measure, and in following up on some of the requests from faculty at the Briefing, please find a copy of a SB3269 template for your use. 

Don’t just copy/paste/send

Please remember it is critically important to personalize your letter or email so that your individual voice is heard. Our efforts to stop SB 3269 from moving forward will be much more effective when  faculty members share their personal stories and perspectives about the potential harm, problems, and destruction the proposed bill, if passed, will create. Collectively, this has a powerful impact and makes a lasting impression, just as faculty showed in the Board of Regents meeting last October.     

Mahalo!

We greatly appreciate your participation and willingness to engage in unity over this fight for the preservation of tenure, academic freedom, and autonomy.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact UHPA, should you have any questions or concerns.

Me ke aloha, 

Christian

Do Senate Leaders Believe in UH?

The World Believes UH is a Top-Ranking University

The UH ranks within the top 1% of all universities worldwide, according to the recently released 2021 Aggregate Ranking of Top Universities (ARTU), which assesses different metrics, including academic reputation, highly-cited researchers, student engagement, graduation rates and diversity. ARTU develops this list by combining three of the most influential global rankings from Times Higher Education, Quacquarelli Symonds and Academic Ranking of World Universities.

With the UH’s enviable reputation, it’s no wonder that supporters are attracted to and willing to back the UH. Those with expansive worldviews want to get behind the UH. They are able to see the bigger picture and understand the important role the UH plays in the larger ecosystem.

Walter Dods, Jr. Believes In UH With $250k Of His Own Money

Recently, we have seen business leaders and captains of industry who have made significant investments in the UH to support local talent and programs that will create a better future for Hawaii’s people and our children, our community, our environment, our state and the world.

Walter Dods, Jr., First Hawaiian Bank’s former chairman, president and CEO, and the First Hawaiian Bank Foundation recently made a combined contribution of $500,000 to support the UH Mānoa RISE project, a world-class innovation and entrepreneurship center. RISE is an acronym for Residences for Innovative Student Entrepreneurs and the center will include housing for undergraduate and graduate students. A groundbreaking ceremony for the $70 million center at the former Atherton YMCA, located across the Mānoa campus, was held recently and construction is now underway. For more information about the donation, click here.

HMSA Believes in UH with $1 Million Endowed Professorship

The Hawaiʻi Medical Service Association (HMSA), the oldest, most experienced health plan in the State, covering over half of its population, recently donated $1 million to establish the HMSA Distinguished Endowed Professorship in Health Economics at the University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization (UHERO) in UH Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences.  

HMSA, through its Foundation, has a long history of supporting various health care initiatives at the University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine and the Nancy Atmospera-Walch School of Nursing totaling $6 million.  

HMSAʻs President and CEO, Mark Mugiishi, M.D., F.A.C.S., and UHEROʻs Executive Director Carl Bonham were instrumental in the response to COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years as members of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness.  For more information about the donation, click here. 

Zuckerberg Believes In UH With $50 Million Of His Own Money

These contributions by local leaders and organizations were topped by another recent announcement. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced they are donating $50 million over a seven-year period — the largest cash donation in the university’s history — to the UH School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) to support research on climate change and its impact on the ocean.

The Zuckerbergs’ contribution is earmarked for research and programs that will explore changing ocean conditions, seek solutions to support healthier ocean ecosystems, enhance coastal resilience from storms and sea-level rise, and tackle challenges to marine organisms.

These recent contributions speak volumes about the UH’s prestige, credibility, and expertise of its faculty and research programs. Those who believe in the UH are willing to invest to advance and promote its mission to research, teaching, and community service.

Some State Senators Act As If They Don’t Believe In UH 

Unfortunately, we don’t have to look far to find those with limited optics who view the UH as a glass that is half empty. Their decisions and actions consistently and subvertly convey that UH should not be considered the preferred choice by our high school students, and as a result, damage the image and credibility of the institution and its impact. They relentlessly and continually attack the UH administration and offer disparaging comments about faculty members. They are a contemptible breed, deluded by their belief that tenure diminishes the work faculty perform, further damaging the institutionʻs image and credibility in the community and abroad. They believe UH faculty cannot be trusted and in need of extensive oversight and micromanagement, even if it means usurping the authority of the UH administration and the UH Board of Regents or even worse inserting themselves into the decision making. Our State Capitol is riddled with these provocateurs posing as elected officials in our legislature.

How is Seeking Limelight and Power Grabbing Helping UH, Exactly?

While voters trust these public servants to make decisions to benefit the state, these legislators lose sight of that and let their personal agendas and vendettas interfere with not only policymaking but their rational judgment. Instead of being stewards of the constitutional authority that has been entrusted to them, they purposefully abuse their power and concoct elaborate resolutions and legislation to exact vengeance on individuals and to push their modus operandi. They relish being in the limelight while grilling, criticizing, and ridiculing public employees — whether they’re a football coach or a researcher studying cancer breakthroughs. They love to wield their power to keep faculty and the UH administration under constant duress and anxiety instead of keeping their eyes on the bigger picture. These senators are enamored with the Golden Rule: “They who hold the purse strings to the gold get to make the rules.” And when being the sole gate keepers over the general fund is not satisfying enough, they attempt to take control and manage UH’s extramural funding — nearly $500 million a year — brought in by the faculty.

It’s Time to Elect People to Believe in UH

These elected officials stand in stark contrast to other legislative leaders of years past who not only had proven track records of success but also allowed and supported the UH to grow and prosper into the recognized and reputable institution it is today. The elected officials of today provoke, poke, and prod, and their limited and shallow views of the world and higher education continue to threaten the stability and future prosperity of the UH. How long can we endure this dichotomy that continues to tear at the UH and allow the damage to become irreversible? Virtually everyone can see through the antics of these elected officials. Should we continue to permit those with limited perspectives to bring the UH down and cause the UH to lose everything it has gained over the past century? Or could this election year, especially with reapportionment, be the year to push for meaningful, thoughtful, and strategic change? Only time will tell.