Defending Against Micromanagement of UH

Holding Power In Check to Protect UH Faculty

UHPA is not afraid to speak up to those who abuse their power since it ensures those with  authority stay in their lane. As the exclusive bargaining representative for UH faculty, UHPA never hesitates to voice our concerns when there is a threat to UH faculty.

UHPA was asked by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (“Key state senators call for University of Hawaii President Lassner to resign” see also PrintReplica link) to share our perspectives about a few Hawai‘i State senators who are asking for UH President David Lassner’s resignation.

Unwarranted Attacks on UH Hurts Us All

Any unwarranted public attack on the UH President is an attack on the entire UH community with potential negative implications on funding for the UH.  These irresponsible actions by a few legislators give our families pause to consider sending their children to UH. Who would want to attend a university that legislators keep (falsely) accusing of waste and ineffectiveness? A recent Star-Advertiser editorial has similar sentiments: 

“Senate committee leaders, who do help shape the budget enacted for the university, thus should back off their impulse to micromanage policy decisions, the hiring of the president chief among them. This public airing of tensions could damage perceptions about UH among research funding institutions and the general public.”

Unclear, unwise attack on Lassner” see also PrintReplica link

Let’s Recognize Positive Accomplishments

While we have had our differences with the UH administration, we have always managed to reach amicable solutions. We expressed our support for the UH and the progress we have made in delivering results for Hawai‘i students and research in collaboration with the President and the UH Administration, particularly during the pandemic. The senators should recognize the President’s accomplishments as a result of the meaningful and productive collaboration with UHPA faculty and the positive impact it has had on the students obtaining degrees, diplomas and certificates to enter the workforce here in Hawai‘i. UH is high in national rankings and our families should feel proud to send their children to any one of the ten campuses in the UH System.

A Deeper, Recurring Challenge

We see a recurring pattern that is very disturbing – something that is much deeper and seething. These disrespectful attempts of legislative micromanagement are a flagrant disregard of the established governance structure of the UH system. 

The UH Structure Was Designed to Protect Against This

While lawmakers are certainly entitled to their opinions, there are legal limits to their authority. The UH Board of Regents is constitutionally empowered with exclusive management of the UH system. The governance structure of the UH was intentionally designed to maintain order and stability for the UH.  These protocols must remain in place to prevent any circumventions that will usurp the authority of the Board of Regents and allow legislative micromanagement of UH affairs .

UH Autonomy is Backed by the State Constitution

The Hawai‘i State Constitution, Article X (Education), Section 6 clearly defines the power of the UH Board of Regents:

The board shall have the power to formulate policy, and to exercise control over the university through its executive officer, the president of the university, who shall be appointed by the board.  The board shall also have exclusive jurisdiction over the internal structure, management, and operation of the university.”

And Supported by Hawai‘i Law

The current Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS) under §304A-105 further validates this: 

“The board of regents shall have management and control of the general affairs, and exclusive jurisdiction over the internal structure, management, and operation of the university.”

We Will Protect Faculty 

UHPA will always vehemently defend our faculty against unfair attacks by lawmakers. We point to our UHPA-BOR Agreement agreement based on Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS), Chapter 89, §89-6(d)(4), which defines the Employer as: the Governor, the UH Board of Regents, and the UH President.  There is no law that defines legislators as the UH Employer. 

We’re purposely putting this in big, bold type so everyone understands: 

UHPA Will Staunchly Defend Faculty Against Micromanagement, Especially From Legislators.

Together, Let’s Hold Lawmakers Accountable

When it Comes to the Health of Hawaii’s People, We Must Be Prepared to Hold our State Lawmakers Accountable

Hawai‘i has recently been named the fourth healthiest state in the nation in United Health Foundation’s “America’s Health Rankings.” All of us in Hawai‘i should be proud of this recognition; however, we know these rankings do not tell the whole story of the overall health condition of Hawai‘i’s people.

There is growing acknowledgment that there is a need to disaggregate data to gain a fuller understanding of the unique ethnic or geographical differences in our multi-ethnic population across our islands.

Disaggregated Data Shows Health Disparities

The University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center takes that deeper dive into geography and demographics to address our state’s diversity. According to the UH Cancer Center’s “Hawai‘i Cancer at a Glance, 2014- 2018,” there are significant disparities in cancer risks and outcomes across racial and ethnic groups, which may reflect genetic variations as well as lifestyle factors.

Here are some of the highlights from the report:

  • Each year, an average of 7,393 Hawai‘i residents are diagnosed with invasive cancer.
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death after cardiovascular disease in Hawai‘i.
  • On average, 2,393 Hawai‘i residents die of cancer each year.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the state. Among females, Native Hawaiians had the highest lung cancer incidence and mortality rates.
  • Thyroid cancer incidence is highest in Filipino women.
  • Whites have the highest rates of melanoma.
  • Breast cancer remains the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women.
  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men.
  • Overall cancer mortality was highest in Hawaiʻi County.

Positive Momentum for Funding Multi-Ethnic Co-Hort Study

These sobering statistics and other data provide a compelling case of support for HB 1301, which seeks to appropriate funds to the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center to conduct a multi-ethnic cohort study focusing on the social determinants of health, lifestyles, environmental exposures, and resilience factors of Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Filipinos.

Anita Hofschneider’s article, Researchers Hope Hawai‘i Lawmakers Fund Cancer Research, showed there is positive support from many legislators so far. After the first reading of the bill, the measure was passed to the House Committee on Health and Homelessness and House Finance Committee.

Important to Remain Hypervigilant

We will continue to monitor this legislative session very carefully to ensure personal differences between lawmakers and researchers do not get in the way as this bill moves forward.  We must all keep a watchful eye on all of our lawmakers to ensure vitally important research for Hawai‘i’s people does not get derailed for personal reasons and let that become a distraction to the critical work being undertaken by the UH Cancer Center.

Calling Out Bad Behavior

We’ll take our cue from Gov. Josh Green, who recently filed a complaint for misconduct against Sen. Kurt Fevella for demonizing Housing Chief Nani Medeiros — by literally calling her a devil — questioning the authenticity of her ethnicity – and her commitment to the Stateʻs housing efforts and passion for Hawaiians.

Accountable to Professional Standards

It’s time to put the best interests of Hawai‘i’s people first, return civil engagement back to the State Capitol — even when we disagree with each other — and hold public servants accountable for upholding professional standards and do what we elected them to do — to serve respectfully, fairly, and with aloha.

Sarah Beamer Joins UHPA as Assistant Executive Director

Sarah Beamer, an attorney with 10 years of government and political experience that included serving as executive director of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, has joined the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) as an assistant executive director. She is the newest member of the UHPA leadership team, reporting to Christian Fern, UHPA’s executive director. 

Debi Hartmann, UHPA associate executive director, who plans to retire in mid-2023, is serving as Beamer’s mentor and advisor to ensure a smooth transition for the union that represents more than 3,000 UH faculty members. 

“We’re glad to welcome Sarah to our UHPA team to support our growing number of members across all 10 University of Hawai‘i campuses statewide,” Fern said. “She brings valuable qualities to UHPA — a passion for advocacy, commitment to supporting Hawaii families, meticulous attention to detail, and experience with developing and managing complex programs.”

Prior to joining UHPA, Beamer had been with the state’s Hawaii Public Housing Authority since 2016, serving in various roles, including compliance and evaluation specialist, acting Section 8 branch chief, and housing planner. She collaborated with branch chiefs, consultants, and the state’s Office of the Attorney General to review and amend administrative rules, and provided research, analysis, and interpretation of federal, state, and county laws.

Beamer also served in the legislature from 2014 to 2016, as a bills research analyst for the Senate Committees on Judiciary and Labor, Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, and Transportation and Labor, and as a deputy bills chief for the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

She also held a number of positions in the Democratic Party of Hawaii, including that of compliance director and executive director, and was responsible for developing and managing the Democratic State Biennial Convention from 2010 to 2014.

Beamer, a downtown Honolulu resident, received a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice and a bachelor of arts degree in history with minors in international studies and political science, both from Loyola University Chicago; and earned a law degree from the University of Hawai‘i William S. Richardson School of Law.

In Memory of Tony Gill

IN MEMORIAM Tony Gill: A Friend and Advocate of UHPA, UH Faculty and the Labor Community

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Tony Gill on Feb. 6, 2023, who represented UHPA for over 40 years, ending his hard fought and courageous battle to overcome cancer. He was 72. 

UHPA’s Attorney of Record

Tony, who was a founding partner with the law firm Gill, Zukeran & Sgan, was instrumental in guiding UHPA and its faculty members through difficult collective bargaining negotiations and representing UHPA as well as individual faculty members in contentious Hawaii Labor Relations Board hearings, in the state courts of Hawai‘i, and before both the Federal District Court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Tony Gill

Champion of Public Employees

“Tony was a staunch advocate of UHPA and UH faculty members,” said UHPA Executive Director Christian Fern. “He meticulously pored over legal documents and developed articulate and strategic responses to support UHPA faculty members. No piece of information escaped his attention and his razor-sharp mind, and yet he always maintained a sense of humor even in the most trying times. He was a champion of fairness and equity, and he will be dearly missed.”     

Transformational Legal Figure in the Public Sector

JN Musto, UHPA’s former executive director who retired in 2015 after serving the faculty union for 35 years, said: “Tony will be remembered as more than the eldest son of Congressman and Lt. Governor Tom Gill.  Tony’s ideas, intelligence, and legal skills forged meaning into Hawai‘i’s public sector labor law that has benefited all public employees beyond just the employment conditions of the faculty members he represented at the University of Hawai‘i.  This malihini and the local boy formed both a professional and personal relationship that made us both more effective members of the labor union community.”

A Lifetime of Accomplishments

Tony’s influence left a lasting impact on faculty and the broader community. Some of Tony’s most notable events and accomplishments include:

  • Tom Gillʻs and Tony Gill’s defense of the arbitration and enforcement of the Unit 7 collective bargaining agreement before the Hawaii State Supreme Court that granted UHPA faculty member Alice Daeufer’s tenure. 
  • Tonyʻs appearance in Hawaii Federal District Court upholding the terms of the Unit 7  collective bargaining agreement and preventing Ben Cayetano’s unilateral implementation of the payroll lag on faculty members. 
  • Tony’s participation in the preparation of both the first and second UHPA faculty member strikes, and legal work protecting the rights of faculty members while they were out on strike from dismissal and retribution.  
  • Tonyʻs oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 9th Circuit in defense of having closed primary elections limited to the registered members of the candidates’ political parties. Unfortunately, he didn’t prevail, so Hawai‘i remains an open primary and you do not have to be a party member to vote in determining the party’s candidates.

A Great Loss For Us All

Tony is survived by his wife, Ashley Maynard, sons Thomas and Michael; sister Andrea, brothers Eric, Ivan, Tim and Gary. Information about a celebration of life service will be made available when details are finalized. 
Our deepest sympathy and condolences to the entire Gill ‘Ohana.

UH Faculty are Crucial to Biosecurity

The article below was submitted and published by Civil Beat on 2/2/23, “Combating Invasive Species A Priority For UH Faculty

The decisions made within the walls of the State Capitol have far-reaching implications for UH faculty and affect everyone and everything in Hawai‘i, now and for future generations. Throughout this legislative session, UHPA will explain how proposed legislation affects our quality of life and why it is imperative for UH faculty and community members to stand together and advocate for our island home. The following article is the first in this legislative session.

Creatures with Bad Habits Ruining Our Paradise

Invasive species have stealthily entered our islands and wreaked havoc on our environment and economy. It’s a serious problem that threatens native plants, animals, and locally grown crops. Their impact threatens our state’s food security and resilience.

UH Faculty are Crucial to Biosecurity

Combating the increasing number of invasive species is a priority for UH faculty. Fortunately, UH faculty members are already engaged in research and activities addressing many of these threats. However, they are hampered by ongoing inadequate state budget allocations which further erode our efforts to improve our state’s food security. Climate change will only exacerbate this funding problem by bringing even more invasive species to our shores.  

Hawai‘i Must Invest in Biosecurity

Biosecurity experts testifying at a Jan. 26 legislative informational session noted that the prevention efforts for the brown tree snake, miconia, little fire ant, and red imported fire ant, as well as other initiatives in the state’s biosecurity plan, are estimated to cost $38 million. The Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture combined typically receive less than 2% of the state’s operating budget. 

The takeaway from the session jointly held by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment and House Committees on Energy & Environmental Protection, Agriculture & Food Systems, and Land & Water: Hawai’i urgently needs to invest in biosecurity.  

Restore and Fill Critical UH Faculty Positions Now

A Honolulu Civil Beat article on this crucial issue aptly noted: “Take the University of Hawaii: It lost 70 positions over the course of the pandemic within the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Many of those roles — research among them — inform strategies to increase biosecurity. It has since recovered 21 positions.” Read the full article here. It is important to note a university-wide hiring freeze during the pandemic did not help this.

The Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council, established 20 years ago by the University of Hawai‘i and the state Departments of Land & Natural Resources, Agriculture, Health, Transportation and Business, Economic Development & Tourism, has designated February as Hawai‘i Invasive Species Awareness Month to highlight the myths about invasive species impacting our islands.

Funding Realities on the Frontlines of Research

UHPA President David Duffy, a UH professor in the Botany Department and a graduate professor in zoology, ecology, evolution, and conservation biology, is well acquainted with tenuous funding for research. He directed the UH Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit, now in the School of Life Sciences, for more than 20 years and helped to establish and manage the invasive species committees on all the islands, which serve as the first line of defense against newly invasive species.

The Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit also helped found and manage the watershed partnerships on each island to ensure a safe drinking water supply for Hawai‘i residents and businesses. In collaboration with the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, Professor Duffy’s work also included nurturing the development of a Hawaiian Ant Lab, which provides expertise and research on preventing the establishment of little fire ants. 

“All of these groups depend on soft money from the state, counties, and the federal government,” he said. “This makes it difficult to plan and sustain operations from year to year.”

Honoring UH Faculty Biosecurity Heroes

We should also designate this month to recognize and appreciate the shrinking army of UH faculty who have been on the frontlines to combat invasive species and trying to fortify our defenses with the limited staff they currently have. When we eat our papaya at breakfast, sip our Kona coffee, or proudly “buy local” at the farmer’s market, let’s thank our UH faculty biosecurity heroes.

Rate My Administrator 2022 Published

UHPA members can now download the “2021 UHPA Rate My Administrator Surveys” PDF. Nearly 700 faculty members participated system-wide across all campuses. 

Summary of Findings

Market Trends Pacific – the company hired to conduct the survey now in its second year, summarized the results of the 2022 report thusly: 

“In this second year of fielding the Rate My Administrator survey, overall scores generally declined slightly, with larger changes (both positive and negative) at the campus level. In some cases, campus scores decreased substantially, which may merit further attention and/or monitoring over time.”

The summary report contains:

  • Highest and lowest scoring statements
  • Average score for each statement
  • Average scores by campus
  • Both overall satisfaction by average by campus
  • Likely to recommend
  • Profile of respondents

The results of this survey will be shared with the UH Administration. We intend to annually repeat this process and publish trends over time.

UHPA’s long-term goal is to use these trendlines on faculty feedback to identify where administrative performance has been demonstrated as well as where it requires attention and improvement.

For UHPA Members only:


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Membership Card Going Green

UHPA’s traditional paper membership cards are being replaced with our new “Membership eCard” that will be sent electronically via email. 

The UHPA Membership eCard is designed for mobile phones, much like today’s airline or movie tickets.  Just use your phone and pull up the email with the Subject “UHPA Membership eCard Enclosed”.

Should you need your card for any reason and can’t easily find it, just contact us at any time and you’ll get a refreshed version in your inbox. 

Sample UHPA Member eCard


Huge Discount at Sea Life Park in January 2023

UHPA Members Qualify for Over 60% Off

From Sea Life Park:

Sea Life Park’s rebranded luau, Aloha Kai Luau, will be launching on January 2nd. To celebrate, we have an amazing offer for you! We are excited for you to experience the enhanced show with new cultural activities and dining options. Malu Productions will continue to provide our first class entertainment and our kitchen will still be serving up your favorite Hawaiian classics. The same great quality you’ve come to expect at Sea Life Park, just with a new name.

UHPA Members will pay only $60 on our Silver Package ($159 value) which includes:

  • Flower Lei Greeting
  • Two (2) Drink Tickets
  • Silver Seating
  • Cultural Activities
  • Buffet Dinner & Live Music
  • 5-Day Pass: Sea Life Park

Click this button for details on how to get your UHPA Member discounted rate

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Last Call for UHPA Professional Excellence Award Nominations

Nominations Close on December 7

The UHPA Board of Directors proudly announce the establishment of an annual Professional Excellence Award open to all UHPA faculty members that recognizes the outstanding and superior performance of University of Hawaiʻi faculty that significantly contribute their dedicated service and commitment to the UH system and its respective campuses.  The award proclaims and bestows the Boardʻs respect and appreciation for the accomplishment by its faculty members that is purely member driven as all nominations and selections are determined by their peers.

A Formal Recognition of UH Faculty Excellence

The award recognizes the key and essential role that all UH faculty fulfill in advancing the mission of the UH system in the areas of instruction, research, service and extension.  It also recognizes the service and commitment that all UH faculty provide to the UH system in serving its students, staff, community and citizens of the State of Hawaiʻi.

All Classifications To Be Recognized

The Board will recognize one faculty member for each faculty classification in instructional, research, specialist, extension agent, librarian, and lecturer.  There will be one awardee per each faculty classification for the entire UH system.

Submit Your Nominations Now Before the 12/7 Deadline

The call for nominations begins today Monday, October 31, 2022 and runs through Wednesday, December 7, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. Use this online form to submit your nominations.

Evaluations Conducted by Our Board

A committee of faculty of the Board will review the nominees for instructional, research, specialist, extension agent, librarian, and lecturer, as applicable, and will make its recommendations to the Boardʻs Executive Committee for final confirmation.

Awardees Announced in Spring ‘23

At the April 2023 UHPA Annual Board Meeting all nominees will be announced and the Board will formally announce the awardees of the UHPA BOD Professional Excellence Award during its “Celebrating Excellence” event.

The Board looks forward to recognizing its outstanding faculty members and thank all of you for your heartfelt support of our member driven organization.

Order Your UHPA Polo Shirt Now Before the Deadline

We Must Receive Your UHPA Polo Shirt Order Before 12/9/22

If you want yours, you must place your order before the 12/9/22 deadline.  

Exclusive for UHPA Members Only

We can now proudly wear our union’s solidarity in these Kahala polo shirts custom designed for UHPA members! There is no charge – these shirts come with your UHPA membership.

How to Order

  • Use this order form (opens in new window) to place your order.
  • Do it now – order deadline is December 9, 2022.

Details and Conditions:

  • Each Member may order 1 shirt. There is no charge.
  • You or a designated proxy must pick up your product on campus in the fall of 2023 – exact dates and times TBD
  • Additional shirts are not available – these are exclusively for members of UHPA and cannot be purchased.
  • You can only order your shirt using the order form.
  • Order deadline is December 9, 2022. We cannot assure fulfillment if deadline is missed.


Actual product may vary from depicted images.