UHPA Endorses Green for Governor and Luke for Lt. Governor

University of Hawaii Professional Assembly Faculty Members Adopt a New Approach to Endorsements for Governor and Lieutenant Governor

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA), the union that represents about 3,200 faculty at all 10 University of Hawai‘i campuses statewide, is approaching its endorsements for governor and lieutenant governor differently this year. The union today announced it is endorsing Joshua Green for governor and Sylvia Luke for lieutenant governor.

“The role of the lieutenant governor has significantly evolved thanks in large part to the trailblazing work of Lt. Gov. Josh Green. He has definitely set a new bar for his successors,” said Christian Fern, UHPA executive director. “Our faculty members recognized they could no longer do endorsements as usual.”

Fern said in conducting assessments of all the candidates for both governor and lieutenant governor, UHPA’s Political Endorsement Committee, which is composed of faculty members, realized it was not enough to evaluate the candidates on their individual merits alone.

“The faculty looked at how candidates in both offices could function as an effective team. They

still paid careful attention to their leadership experience, track records of support for the UH, their grasp of the role of faculty and public higher education in our state, and their vision for the University of Hawai‘i as an economic engine of the state,” he said. “But they also looked at chemistry — whether their leadership styles would be complementary and if they could work together to move our state forward.”

“Hawai‘i has an opportunity to change the way our state is led,” Fern said. “We need a governor who can keep the big picture in mind and offer the latitude to a lieutenant governor to also lead and not be stifled. We can no longer afford to have a governor and lieutenant governor who are at odds with each other.”

UHPA welcomed each of the candidates to its headquarters for two separate endorsement announcements to accommodate the schedules of the candidates and faculty members. The following are excerpts from Fern’s remarks:

Quotes about Josh Green:

“Josh Green knows that the UH faculty have brought in nearly half a billion to our state at a time when the state was struggling economically from the impact of the pandemic. Rather than try to stymie those efforts, he would like to support the faculty to double their contribution to a billion dollars a year. This is the kind of visionary thinking our state needs.

“He’s attuned to the challenges faculty face. Josh Green sees the value of having a diverse Board of Regents for better governance. Autonomy is also important to him. Micromanagement and meddling have been the underlying themes in this legislative session, but Josh Green understands that government needs to step out of the way for the UH to flourish. This is a refreshing breath of fresh air that is badly needed.

“He believes the UH is an extension of the governor, and that we must work hand-in-hand. He would like to see faculty claim their rightful place as thought leaders in our community and have a say in government improvement.”

Quotes about Sylvia Luke:

“With her 10 years of experience as chair of the House Finance Committee, she knows how to get things done. That is the kind of leader we need for our state.

“So often, there has been dissension between the governor and legislature, and this prevented important initiatives from moving forward. We believe this can end with Sylvia serving as the bridge between the Governor’s office and the legislature. For once, we can expect there to be more collaboration and a more productive relationship.

“As a product of the University of Hawai‘i, Sylvia has a special affinity for the UH, and wants to elevate the UH to its rightful place. She has personally seen how the Senate has attempted to dismantle and diminish the role of the UH, and how the House has had to undo many of the bills proposed by the Senate.

“With more grants for research, she sees the potential for the UH to contribute much more to our state and create new economic opportunities. She told us it is the responsibility of the legislature to advance the entire University of Hawai‘i system, including the community colleges.”

Big Mahalo to Senators Karl Rhoads and Brian Taniguchi

Courage, exemplified

It takes courage to go against the grain and to stand up for what is right. Mahalo to Sen. Karl Rhoads and Sen. Brian Taniguchi for voting “no” on SB 3269 SD 2, relating to academic tenure of faculty. These two bravely called out the elephant in the room rather than simply go with the flow by voting in favor of the bill with 23 other senators. Mahalo to Sen. Rhoads and Sen. Taniguchi for standing with faculty and not compromising their principles.

SB 3269 SD 2 Still Moving to Put UH Under The PIG

Despite the bill passing to the House, UHPA remains adamantly against the bill and its implications for UH faculty. The bill, in its most recent iteration, proposes a statute that coerces the UH Board of Regents and the UH president to think and act in a way prescribed by certain legislators to suit their own agenda. The Bill states this intention very clearly:

“Direct the board of regents and the president of the University of Hawaii to discuss and adopt the recommendations of the permitted interaction group on tenure and to confer with the faculty and the exclusive representative of each applicable collective bargaining unit to implement the permitted interaction group on tenure’s recommendations.”

But the BOR Rejected the PIG

The truth is, the UH Board of Regents did NOT accept the recommendations of the Tenure Permitted Interaction Group. In fact, at its February 17, 2022, the BOR voted to disregard the findings and recommendations of the dissolved Tenure PIG (Permitted Interaction Group) and to adopt the Report of the Senate Concurrent Resolution 201 (2021) Task Force. How much clearer can this be made?

While SCR 201 Reported Tenure Should Not Be Changed

As you may recall, this report was requested by the Senate in the previous legislative session. UH administration and UHPA worked collaboratively to fulfill that request by conducting exhaustive research on the tenure system of peer institutions. The findings of the task force showed there was no reason to change the current tenure system at the University of Hawai‘i.

Accepting the Rejected and Rejecting the Accepted – Why?

It is puzzling why the Senate has chosen to ignore this document but wants to base a law on the Tenure PIG, which has already been dismissed by the Board of Regents with the support of UH administration, UHPA, and faculty.

What Kind of Faculty Will Want to Apply At UH Now?

All of Hawai‘i should be embarrassed that these self-serving legislators and their meddling tactics have attracted national attention. It makes prospective faculty think twice about applying for positions at the UH and this will adversely impact faculty recruitment and retention.

The article in Inside Higher Education, titled, “Hawaii Senator Takes Aim at Tenure—and More,” Sen. Donna Mercado Kim tells an alternative story:

A Confused Lawmaker?
“Kim notes that the effort to revise tenure emerged from the Board of Regents, as part of a task force known as a policy implementation group. ‘What I keep pointing out is this is not our recommendation; it came out of the Board of Regents,” she said… At a meeting last month, the Board of Regents ultimately adopted the recommendations from the Senate report and not the policy implementation group’s. Kim’s bill requires regents to ‘discuss and adopt’ the recommendations of the policy implementation group, which the Board of Regents previously shot down.’”

The article concludes with Sen. Mercado Kim attempting to justify her actions:

“At the end of the day, Kim suggested that it isn’t her clashes with UH at the heart of her legislation, but rather that she has a ‘history of looking at things and revamping, upgrading and renewing,’ ultimately pushing institutions toward uncomfortable changes. ‘Sometimes that’s met with a lot of objections because things have been done a certain way for the longest time,’ Kim said.”

Senators Working Hard To Undo The Success We’ve Achieved

Autonomy Revisited:
Today’s Senate Has Strayed Off the Path Established 30 Years Ago

As Hawaii’s legislative session reaches the halfway mark and bills cross over between the House and Senate, it’s a good time to reflect on what has been transpiring to date. In the heat of the day-to-day, rough-and-tumble battles that occur with the various legislative committees, we often do not have the luxury to take a deeper, historical look at how the decisions and actions of certain legislators have deviated from their predecessors.

Senators Breaking What Doesn’t Need Fixing

The recurring theme in the Senate this year has been meddlesome over-reach, an attempt to squash the autonomy of the University of Hawai‘i. These are all done in the name of “revamping, upgrading and renewing” our state’s public higher education system — descriptions some senators use to justify fixing what does not need to be fixed. There are no innocent bystanders in the Senate; many are complicit by tacitly going along with the prevailing notions of the moment.

There Was a Time They Actually Cared About Our Future

The mindset and tenor of the Senate today diverges from how the Senate has operated in the past. In the early to mid-1990s, in the midst of the Great Recession, Gov. Ben Cayetano, the Senate and the House convened the Hawaii Economic Revitalization Task Force (ERTF) to address the state’s economic condition. These elected officials had conviction, principles and a vision, and worked toward solutions by looking after the best interests of the state.

Where An Independent UH Was A Cornerstone of Economic Vitality

The ERTF made the determination that “if” the University of Hawai‘i could be set free of political control, it could be an economic engine for the state. It was a completely new and bold concept, but it revealed that government leaders at that time were much more forward-thinking — a sharp contrast to the command – control – dictate – imposition leadership style of certain state senators today.

UH Autonomy: A New Concept

The key proposals that emerged from the ERTF were game-changers. There was a desire to position the University of Hawai‘i as the preeminent institution in the world to help drive the local economy; and to restructure it into a quasi-public corporation with independent accountability. Government leaders believed this additional autonomy would allow the University of Hawai‘i to set its own priorities, drive it’s own vision and goals, and to own and manage lands, funds and resources without interference. The result would be “world-class” standing in key areas and an increase in the proportion of private funding.

Even Cayetano Believed a Freed UH Would Be Good for Hawaii

The notion of autonomy for the University of Hawai‘i gained more momentum and in his State of the State speech on Jan. 26, 1998, Gov. Cayetano said:

“We propose to make the University of Hawai‘i a quasi-public institution, virtually a fourth branch of government. We want the university to become more entrepreneurial, to become a leading contributor to our economy, but most of all, we want the university to have the freedom to become one of the great universities of the Pacific.”

We Used to Be The Most Micro-Managed University 

John Radcliffe, who was serving as UHPA’s acting executive director while J. N. Musto was on sabbatical, commissioned a study on the role of universities in economic development. The results showed that virtually every surveyed state across the nation empowers its higher education system with a significant degree of fiscal and policy autonomy. In fact, no surveyed state had consigned less actual authority to its higher education governance authority than the State of Hawai‘i. Where universities are not already constitutionally self-directing, the study showed the norm is to specify large degrees of university fiscal self-governance, and to empower university-private sector collaboration.

These former and past legislators fully supported the restructuring of the University of Hawai‘i for improved economic performance. Bills to promote autonomy were introduced in 1997 and in the 1998 legislature, there were at least three major “autonomy bills” in circulation. 

But Then Act 115 Enshrined Autonomy in Law

HB 2560 was eventually passed with bi-partisan support from both the House and Senate. The positive support showed that the legislature agreed with the economic revitalization task force’s determination that the devolution of power to the University of Hawai‘i will enhance the university’s status as a preeminent institution of higher learning, and enable the university to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities and contribute significantly to economic revitalization. This was signed into law in June and became Act 115.

Although this was a major step forward, the work was not yet over. None of the bills proposed amendments to the selection of the Board of Regents, a process  that had been an obstacle to autonomy. 

And Created The Candidate Advisory Council For a Better BOR

Autonomy could only be fully realized if the Board of Regents looked after the interests of the UH, and were not political sycophants making decisions to return favors to others. John Radcliffe was key to introducing the concept of a candidate advisory council to help the UH realize true autonomy.

A constitutional amendment was proposed to the public via SB1256 (2005), and was enacted by Hawai‘i voters at the election in 2006.  It amended Art. X § 6 (now HRS § 304A-104 and 104.6) that allows for “pools of qualified candidates presented to the governor by the candidate advisory council…”

This process helped to vet those recommended to serve on the Board of Regents who may not know much about higher education and to prevent the appointments of those who are specifically tapped because of their hostility to or ignorance of higher education. 

Today, We Have the Stats to Show It’s Working

We as locals born and raised here in these islands are taught from a young age that in order to understand the need for changes in any aspect of oneʻs life, you must first understand how you arrived at the current state of being.  If the current senators seeking to “revamp, upgrade and renew” the stateʻs public higher education system did their homework, and took the time to understand the historical background and reasons behind the transformative transition taken three decades ago, they would better understand the reasoning why the University has excelled during the pandemic.  As faculty, you have awarded roughly 21,000 degrees, diplomas, and certificates to the future leaders of our state.  In addition, the UH System saw an increase in enrollment, bucking the national trends. This week, Mānoa was accredited for the next 10 years by WASC.  WASC has validated the work that all of you have  been doing to “revamp, upgrade, and renew.” Which begs the question:  whereʻs the need NOW to “revamp, upgrade, and renew” the University?

Yet Our Senators Want A Return To A Failed Model of the Past

In economically challenging times, lawmakers of the past proposed innovative solutions that reflected their bold, transcendent worldviews. Today’s lawmakers have abandoned the leadership vision and insights of the past, and in their myopic quest for power, bring the entire University of Hawai‘i system down and prevent the university from realizing its fullest potential as an economic engine for our state.  We can either watch this epic and historic destruction occur before our eyes or take a stand to question and challenge the movement today. 

SB 3269, SD 1 Now On Life Support

Your Faculty Voices Made All the DIfference

A total of 227 pages of passionate and explicit written testimony was submitted on SB 3269, SD1, and all testifiers were in opposition to the proposed legislation.  There was not even one written testimony that was submitted in support, including from past and present Board of Regent members who testified at the first hearing.  The strong outpouring of written opposition from the faculty definitely had a major impact since the bill had to be majorly revamped and reconstructed in order for the Senate Ways and Means (WAM) Committee to get enough support to pass the proposed legislation.  These significant and impactful events simply wouldn’t have occurred if not for the solidarity of the faculty across the system advocating against this bill.

Direct Attack on Faculty Thwarted

The Senate WAM, had to take a carving knife to the bill to get enough votes to keep the measure alive.  The committee voted to amend SB 3269, SD1, by removing Sections 2 and 3, which was the specific proposed legislation attacking and imposing harmful statutory language impacting UH’s Faculty tenure, 5-year reviews, and classification system.  

But they Keep Bringing Up the PIG

While the actions taken by the Senate WAM were beneficial, the WAM committee inserted a legislative demand on the UH Board of Regents and the UH President to follow and adhere to the recommendations of the Board of Regent’s Permitted Interaction Group (PIG) on Tenure and will provide funds to the UH for this specific endeavor to make sure their demands are met.  

Holding Up Funding Unless UH Follows It

The Senate WAM amended the bill by appropriating general funds in the amount of $37,951,232.00 for the different UH campuses only “IF” the BOR and the President discuss and adopt the PIG task force report and consult with Faculty and union to implement the recommendations.  Clearly stated as: We control the release of the general fund monies you need to operate the UH, and so you need to change the Faculty tenure and classification system as we say.

DMK’s Whims Hold The BOR Hostage 

At the February 17, 2022 UH Board of Regents meeting, the BOR voted to move forward on the recommendations contained in Senate Concurrent Resolution 201, SLH 2021, which was introduced by none other than Senator Donna Mercado Kim.  The proposed amendment to SB 3269, SD 1, now attempts to legislatively mandate that the BOR directly follow the recommendations of the Tenure PIG and not the recommendations of the Senate Concurrent Resolution 201, SLH 2021.  It’s ironic that the Senate WAM cannot accept a recommendation coming out of their own demands for: 1) the UH to examine and access the UH’s tenure system and; 2) adhere to the recommendations generated by its own resolution.  Furthermore, to legislatively demand and monetarily hold the BOR hostage until they disregard their own constitutional actions taken at their February 17, 2022 meeting is despicable.  Actions truly speak louder than words.  There is no doubt that their actions today speak volumes in their attempt to control and impose their will on not only the BOR but on the institution itself – thereby becoming the Supra Board of Regents.

Senator Brian Taniguchi – A Symbol of Righteousness

Of the eleven (11) WAM committee members in attendance today, there was only one Senator who stood against his colleagues and voted against the passage of this measure in its entirety.  UHPA thanks the Senator for his attempts to hold the bill in committee and appreciates his “NO” vote on the measure as the only Senator to speak up against the recommendations of his colleagues.

Big Mahalos for the Support of our Partners

A big shout out and thanks to our fellow unionized brothers and sisters across the State that submitted written testimony opposing the legislation including the members of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the United Public Workers union, the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, Inc., the Hawaiʻi Library Association, the Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau, the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local #1 of Hawaii, and the Hawaii State AFL-CIO.  

UHPA also extends its appreciation and thanks to the State of Hawaii, Office of Collective Bargaining, and it’s Chief Negotiator Ryker Wada, the BOR Chair Randolph Moore, and UH President David Lassner, who all submitted written testimony in opposition to the proposed legislation.

Will SB3269 Live Thought It’s Next Step?

SB 3269 new Senate Draft 2 (SD2) heads to the Senate floor for its third (3rd) and final reading.  If the body of the Senate votes in support of the new SB 3269, SD2, it will remain alive and will be sent over to the House of Representatives at the 1st crossover.  UHPA will keep you apprised of the status and progress as updates become available.

In Solidarity We Stand!

Legislative Bill to Obliterate UH Tenure System Moving Forward

The Senate Committee on Ways and Means is holding a hearing on SB 3269 SD1, relating to academic tenure as a last-ditch effort to keep this bill on academic tenure alive during this legislative session. The hearing is scheduled for Friday, March 4, 2022 at 10:10 am.

Need Your Urgent Support

The Senate continues to push their modus operandi by using alternative facts to justify that tenure is supported by tax dollars and restricting tenure leads to cost savings which is absolutely incorrect “IF” you truly understand academic institutions.  Remember, this legislation is being pushed by a former disgruntled Regent who has openly expressed and interjected her personal feelings and emotions over this issue of tenure without facts or data to support her conclusions.  Thus, Faculty input is critical, essential, and needed to change the false narratives, misinformation, and deceptive tactics to prevent the intended and unintended negative consequences that will happen if this bill passes.  Your input and voices so far seem to be working. Two changes have been made to the original bill: 1) librarians are now allowed to receive tenure; and 2) community college faculty are not required to conduct research, as the originally proposed. However, the issue of tenure still hangs in the balance and the bill still threatens the viability of the University’s ability to hold and protect tenure, academic freedom, and academic governance absent legislative meddling. We must continue the good fight to protect the pillars and foundations of the academy.

Written Testimony is the Only Way to Voice Your Concerns

If you provided testimony for SB 3269 (SD1) for the Senate Committee on Higher Education (HRE) use your testimony as a template and make the necessary modifications to reflect the changes in the bill as you deem fit.

Oral Testimony Not Accepted

This upcoming WAM Committee hearing will NOT allow oral testimony, therefore  NO question-and-answer period. Therefore, it is imperative and meaningfully important that you submit written testimony before 10:10 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday, March 3, 2022) so that it will not be marked as “Late” and to ensure that Legislators are able to receive it before the hearing.  This will be your last opportunity and the only way to express your thoughts about this dangerous bill to the Senate. The overall number of testimonies submitted from faculty will send a strong message to the members of the WAM Committee and you can make a difference in the outcome in protecting your rights and interests.

Mahalo for your ongoing support and engagement!

Joint Statement Issued On Workload Policies

Joint Statement of the University of Hawai‘i (UH) and the University of Hawai‘i Professional Assembly (UHPA) on systemwide guidance for the promulgation of workload policies and workload assignments.

February 22, 2022

As a result of a UHPA Class Grievance filed on April 30, 2019 challenging the process used to make revisions to a workload policy by a particular college at one of the UH’s four (4) year campus, the Vice President of Academic Strategy at the time wanted to make sure no similar violations occurred across the UH System. Thus, a memorandum was issued on September 26, 2019 that suspended all proposed revisions and updates to workload policies at all four (4) year campuses and that campuses were advised to maintain “status quo” by utilizing their current workload policies in effect.  

During the interim, the UH and UHPA entered into lengthy discussions over the specific workload policy in question as well as the broader issues of workload policies at all four (4) year campuses. The focus of these discussions surrounded the parties’ intent and purpose in negotiating and agreeing to the language covered under Article IV, Faculty Professional Responsibilities and Workload. The outcome of these conversations led to an agreement over workload policy guidelines that adhere to the intent of Article IV, Faculty Professional Responsibilities and Workload. Furthermore, these guidelines should be used for future revisions for all four (4) year campuses’ departments, colleges, units, or programs in the revisions to or development of workload policies.

This joint statement put forth by UH and UHPA is to provide the University of Hawai‘i community at all four (4) year campuses with guidance for how to move forward with any revisions or development of workload policies.

As a matter of definition, UHPA and UH agree to the following:

Workload Policy

Workload expectations are outlined in RP 9.214 and defined as 24-credit hours per academic year or the equivalent for all four (4) year UH campuses including UH Manoa (UHM), UH Hilo (UHH) and UH West O’ahu (UHWO). The current policy acknowledges that a faculty workload constitutes a combination of teaching, service, and research depending upon the mission of the campus. Each campus has substantial variations in the level of detail regarding how this general policy is operationalized. Some give details on equivalencies. For example, UHM’s College of Engineering mentions an absolute instructional count of 2/1; JABSOM mentions that research time beyond that normally allocated needs to be externally funded; UHM Computer Science provides explicit calculations of equivalencies; UHH is silent on matters of external funding, gives some equivalencies, and quotes the contract on overall distribution; UHWO focuses primarily on equivalencies with an FAQ that addresses contract matters.

In policy, equivalencies are discussed because not all faculty workload can be framed in terms of traditional instruction. However, the policy provides the scope of workload – a combination of teaching, scholarship, and service.

Workload Assignment

the workload assignment is the distribution of necessary work for the operation of the department as identified by the Chair in consultation with the faculty pursuant to the contractual requirements set forth under Article IV, Faculty Professional Responsibilities and Workload, paragraph B.3 of the Unit 7 Agreement. The teaching workload assignment can vary depending upon an individual faculty member’s research productivity, service obligations, and campus or college. Additional duties beyond teaching can be subtracted as an equivalency from the 24-credit hour per academic year teaching requirement in policy for each of UH’s 4-year campuses.

Workload Equivalency

Each campus has authority to define and develop teaching equivalencies aligned with research and service requirements suitable for their campus mission and purpose and in consultation with the faculty. Thus, credit hours are used as a mechanism for quantifying the less quantifiable work faculty complete – teaching outside the traditional 3-credit instructional class, research and service. Any discussion of workload equivalencies must be held in conjunction with the faculty in the context of existing policy and subject to campus oversight.

Such Workload assignments should be produced using the following guidelines:

  1. All workload policies governing faculty must adhere to all contractual requirements under Article IV, Faculty Professional Responsibilities and Workload, as well as, the requirements under RP 9.214. Article IV, B.3, specifically references RP 9.214 and its application in determining a faculty member’s instructional workload at each of UH’s 4 -year campuses as 24 semester credit hours per academic year.
  2. While the overall workload is set by policy and each faculty member’s workload assignment shall be determined in accordance with Article IV of the Unit 7 Agreement, the workload shall be managed within each department/division by the Department/Academic Chair. The Chair is determined by the procedures covered under Article XXIII, Appointment, Duties and Compensation for Academic Chairs. 
  3. The Department/Academic Chair has the contractual authority and primary responsibility in making the determination over workload assignments in consultation with the affected faculty pursuant to Article IV of the Unit 7 Agreement.
  4. Deans and Directors are responsible for reviewing all workload assignments to ensure that the operational needs of their School/College are being met. If not, Deans and Directors have the authority and responsibility to have the Department/Academic Chair address any specific issues identified.
  5. All Department/Division workload assignments and equivalencies are to be determined and developed by the respective Department/Division faculty. Prior to adoption, workload assignments and equivalencies are to be reviewed both at the School/College level by Deans/Directors and/or at the Campus level by Provost/Vice-Chancellors to ensure they meet operational needs. 
  6. Deans and Directors shall work with the respective Department/ Academic Chair to address any specific issues/concerns related to any individual faculty member’s workload assignment.
  7. The balance between research, service, and other professional components and duties cannot and shall not be defined by any systemwide standard or metric since they are unique to each discipline within each department/division. All parties acknowledge that the variable missions of each 4-year campus means that there are different considerations for teaching and research. Additionally, it is acknowledged that Community Colleges do not have a research requirement.
  8. It is agreed and recognized that Deans and Directors shall not use workload assignments to monitor and evaluate faculty performance since workload assignments are designed to be solely managed within the department by faculty themselves. However, Deans and Directors have the authority and responsibility to work with the respective Department/Academic Chair to address any performance issues identified. Faculty performance is subject to review through existing review processes and faculty must be able to demonstrate they meet the 24-credit hour per academic year workload established in policy in workload assignment.
  9. As described in RP 9.214, “Teaching remains the most important duty of its faculty.” RP 9.214 offers 24- credit hours per academic year as the standard 4-year campus’ instructional workload for full-time instructional faculty. Under RP 9.214 and Article IV of the Unit 7 Agreement, equivalencies, including but not limited to, teaching, research, specialized educational services, and community services are all considered and calculated within the context of this credit hour framework. We agree that the starting point for instructional workload is the 24-credit hour calculation. We agree that how additional equivalencies are calculated will vary by campus, college, and unit. Each campus determines the instructional time for its faculty and so the determination is not inflexible. However, concerns may be raised or may become an issue if a faculty member’s instructional workload is reduced to zero given the importance of teaching to the University system.

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!