SB 410 Designed to Raise the Bar of Accountability

By UHPA bargaining team: UHPA President Lynne Wilkens, UHPA Bargaining Team Chair Karla Hayashi, Amy Nishimura, Glenn Teves and Matthew Tuthill

Who’s accountable?

When the University of Hawai‘i (UH) leadership gets itself in deep kimchee and manages to grab the headlines, alumni and others cringe. It’s the same pattern: legislators start to ask questions and restrict funding that unfortunately affects programs, faculty and, most importantly, students and research that benefits our state.

Do we cry afoul? No. Does anyone demand heads roll? No. There is no accountability. Instead the issues are quietly swept under the rug. UH administrators are deftly shifted to another comparable position and salary within the UH system. The back-up plan often is to hire yet another chancellor to further inflate the University of Hawaii’s administrative payroll.

Has anyone wondered how UH administrators fare as employers?

The UH administrators that have difficulty managing programs and facilities are the same ones who make up their own rules to govern faculty. These are the faculty that teach our students and collectively bring in more than $350 million in non-state funding to conduct research each year.

There’s always another side to the story. SB 410 has a distinct purpose. It was designed to raise the bar of accountability on employers and improve relationships in the workplace. Framing SB 410 as an uprising of unions is a way to divert attention away from these facts.

For University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA), we know there are many in the community who empathize with the dilemma we face. Although we have joined our brothers and sisters in the other public-sector unions, most legislators and others are familiar with the challenges we face on the 10 UH campuses statewide.

While it easy to promote fear-mongering that SB 410 will somehow “tip the balance” in favor of unions and give them unprecedented power that will “interfere” with relationships between management and employees, we urge those in the Governor’s office to think carefully and do their homework.

We can point to numerous cases of erosion of legitimate faculty rights.

A recent case involved a faculty renowned for his breakthrough medical research, who was recruited from another university with the promise of certain technical equipment to build a similar program at the University of Hawaii. This was spelled out in his letter of hire. After relocating and moving his family here, the UH changed its mind and argued a letter of hire was not included in the collective bargaining process. In other words, what was promised in the letter to him didn’t count. Talk about hair-raising. Insane. Not acceptable. It’s time to put aloha back in the workplace.

Defend mediocrity or improve higher education?

Who Governor David Ige hires, and who he chooses to discipline is strictly his prerogative. It is not our place to tell him how to run his state departments. However, if he vetoes SB 410, it will be a clear indication he defends mediocrity in our state — hardly the quality we want in a leader. SB 410 will allow UHPA faculty to continue to provide quality higher education, research, and community service to the people of Hawai‘i.

Ige should invest in UH faculty

By Eric Denton, Karla Hayashi and Lynne Wilkens

Gov. David Ige’s State of the State address did not offer anything new or substantive, and did not provide any concrete solutions to actually move our state forward.

We heard the governor say our state “must tap our greatest our resource, our people, to find our way to the next great economic transformation: the development of an innovation sector.”

This translated into investment in the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and the HI Growth program to encourage high-tech entrepreneurs.

But what about investment in “our people” who are contributing to our economy now? We believe our state can create a strong, vibrant economy when there is mutually respectful dialogue with the ones who are actively contributing to our local economy today.

As faculty, we were pleased to see the governor’s budget narrative acknowledge the UH is “a productive economic engine for the State of Hawaii.” As the governor’s budget narrative points out, UH faculty attracted an average of $314 million in extramural grants and contracts per year over the last decade (fiscal years 2005 to 2014).

The governor’s proposed Early College Program can be successful if there are faculty to provide the instruction Hawaii students need. Investing in UH faculty will allow us to attract and retain high-quality faculty, who teach our students at the 10 UH campuses across the state, and who conduct research that lead to practical, concrete solutions to relevant issues in our state.

Instruction and research are two vitally important legs of the UH tripod that support the third leg — valuable service to the community. Innovative, groundbreaking research by UH faculty allows students to learn more, gain hands-on experience, and be better equipped to take their place in the world when they graduate.

Many of the faculty research programs support the governor’s long-term goals, including increasing local food production. For example, UH faculty have secured a USDA grant for the Molokai Native Beginning Farmer Program, and through private foundations, the Molokai Homestead Gardening Program is mentoring 40 Hawaiian homestead families in gardening and nutrition.

On Hawaii island, a successful public-private partnership between UH-Hilo and Chef Alan Wong has made the school’s Adopt-A-Beehive program the focus of worldwide attention as it promotes the importance of honey bees for local and global sustainability.

Another innovative program at UH-Hilo, funded by federal dollars, shows students how to utilize excess waste and underutilized agricultural products to promote local sustainability and serve niche markets to support successful businesses.

Faculty dedicate their lives to instruction and research that benefit the Hawaii, using funds that do not rely on the state’s coffers. There must be a reciprocal relationship: The state of Hawaii gains and needs to invest in faculty. We cannot shortchange faculty or undermine their work; otherwise, many will be recruited by universities in other states that are investing in their futures.

It’s time for our state to step up and support faculty, the people responsible for making a better tomorrow possible.

As the state refines “the people’s budget,” as the governor called it in his speech, we hope he and legislators will adopt a collaborative process involving UH faculty. We hope the revised budget is not only “responsible” but also strategic, providing the greatest return for Hawaii’s people, now and into the future.

The new budget must reflect truly visionary leadership that sees the great potential of University of Hawaii and invests in the human capital needed to create a viable future for our state, our economy, and our citizens. Imagine what more we could do to drive our local economy if we had better support for faculty.

Eric Denton is a religion professor at Kapiolani Community College; Karla Hayashi is director of Kilohana: The Academic Success Center in UH-Hilo’s English Department; Lynne Wilkens is co-director of Biostatistics & Informatics Shared Resource at the UH Cancer Center and president of the UH Professional Assembly, the faculty union.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dealing with Today’s Students

Guest post by Rosiana (Nani) L. Azman, Ph.D.  Associate Professor, Psychology, University of Hawai’i Maui College

I am a teacher. Technically, I’m an Associate Professor of Psychology, and by training, I am an educational psychologist; but if you ask me what I do, my response will most likely be that I am a teacher. I believe in facilitating learning. I do not enjoy professing my supposedly superior knowledge in a subject at students. I believe in interacting with them to help them to learn for themselves.

When I first started teaching, I knew that my students weren’t necessarily going to be like me. I am lucky. I have wonderful, supportive, and encouraging parents. I had a pretty good private school education with amazing teachers who didn’t just teach me what to learn, they taught me how to learn. Add on top of that that I am an overachiever, and it’s pretty safe to say that I was not a typical student. By the time I entered college, I knew that I loved to learn.  A very small percentage of my students are lucky enough to have the kind of background I did. I think a large part of my job is to inspire them, to show them that it’s fun to learn. It’s not too hard in psychology. I can tie anything back to real life, and we have fun.

Parents have the right intention

helicopterparentslargeNow some of my students also had parents and teachers who invested in them. Many of my students are definitely smart.  Their parents and teachers want nothing more than to have these children succeed. These parents and teachers also want to make sure that these students had high self-esteem so that they believe that they can take on anything. They have been closely and carefully watched to ensure that they always succeeded. And most of them do, as long as mom and dad are there to run interference, just in case something starts to go awry. What parents don’t want to protect their children from hurt and failure? Wouldn’t it be great if we could give our children a perfect world in which to live?

But the truth is, we don’t live in a magic bubble.

There is no conceivable way for me to be able to protect my daughter completely and eternally from ever having any hurt or disappointment. It breaks my heart to see her cry from pain, both physical and emotional, and I wish I could magically keep her safe forever.

Trying to protect our kids keeps them from learning about life

I’m pretty sure some of my students’ parents feel the same way I do. They want their children to have a better life than they did, free from cruelty, harm, and failure. Doesn’t that sound nice? But somewhere, at some point, something went wrong. In trying to protect them from all of life’s evils, these students missed learning an invaluable lesson: what to do when life doesn’t go your way.

Many of today’s students don’t know how to fail.

They have no coping skills whatsoever to know how to handle adversity. I’ve had students drop a class because they think they failed the first exam. My tests aren’t easy. They’re application based. They are meant to show how well you understand the material, not how well you can regurgitate that which you have shallowly and temporarily memorized. The ones who disappear after that, I cannot help. The ones who stay learn a crucial lesson.  Many of them finally hear me and actually use all those study tips I’ve been building into the lessons. They change their approach to studying and to learning. I can’t tell you how good it feels when they come back to see me after the semester, sometimes after they’ve graduated, to thank me.  I was even once told that nearly flunking that first exam was the best thing that ever happened to that student, but that’s because he saw the near failure as a learning experience, not as a time to brood in incorrectly perceived defeat.

Like the student I thought took a job to help her family with the bills

I once had a twenty-something-year-old student who emailed me mid way through the semester to say that her mother had been in an accident, and so she would be mostly likely missing some classes.  This was a smart student who seemed to do well on exams and was a pretty strong writer.  I didn’t see this student for three weeks.  I finally got a call, asking if she could come see me during office hours to discuss her hardships.  I was expecting to hear something to the effect that she had to stop going to school because she had to go to work to pay the family’s bills. I was trying to figure out if I could give the student an incomplete and help her to finish up the work after the semester was over.

The student came in, and it was pretty obvious that she was distraught. She started talking about how hard it had been since her mother’s accident. Her mother was essentially on full bed rest and would be for the next couple of months. She kept saying how the extra work she had been doing was just completely exhausting her and how she hasn’t been able to keep up with her schoolwork. I assumed she was referring to the job I thought she had gotten to help pay the family bills and made some comment about how admirable and responsible she was being, taking care of her family.

Until I realized she hadn’t

She gave me a confused look. She hadn’t gotten a job. Her stepdad was paying all the bills for the house and for her family. That’s when I got confused. I asked her what extra work she had to do. She kept saying how it’s just been so hard, how she’s never had to do so much before. Since her mom’s accident, her stepdad has been making her wash the dishes and clean the kitchen after dinner.  Her stepdad was cooking every night after coming home from work and said he was too tired to clean up, too, so he needed her to pitch in.  After all, it was just the three of them in the house, and mom wasn’t allowed to get up.

Until I realized she really meant doing chores

I was still waiting to hear about these hardships.  She continued, so I thought I was going to find out now.  She had also been asked to do the laundry.  When it dawned on me that washing the dishes and doing the laundry were her hardships, I did my absolute best to curb my sarcasm and tried to explain that I had been helping out with the dishes and the family laundry since I was nine. I was then corrected.  Her stepdad did the laundry for his wife and himself. My twenty-something-year-old student was just being asked to do her own laundry. She said her mom kept apologizing that her daughter had to do so much around the house.

Sorry, but chores aren’t hardships

I really wish I was exaggerating right now to make some great point, but this is a true story that made me realize that I should never coddle my daughter. If I try to protect her from all of life’s harms, she may still end up intelligent, but she would be unequipped to handle real life, and she might confuse chores for hardships like this student did.

Having standards makes me mean

I asked my student how doing the dinner dishes and her own laundry had stopped her from coming to my 1:45 class two afternoons a week.  When the student couldn’t give me an answer, I gave her one week to make up all of the missed work, and I told her that I expected to see her in class on time next week, and that she would be expected to keep up with the class from this point forward.  I’m pretty sure she thought I was the meanest teacher in the world, but she managed to finish her course and do a couple of household chores, all in the same semester. As far as I’m concerned, I was probably too nice because dishes and laundry aren’t extenuating circumstances to anyone but that student (and sadly, probably some of her classmates).

Parents, who will do their laundry in the “Real World”?

I’m pretty sure that that student’s mom thought she was doing what was best for her daughter.  She was just trying to take care of her daughter and protect her. She did not realize that she was forgetting to teach her daughter how to handle adversity.  If we all go through school and life thinking that everyone is a winner and that everyone deserves a trophy, regardless of how much we actually tried or did, what is going to happen when an entire class of these students enters the real world and all apply for the same job? They all won’t get the job.  One will, and then his or her reality will be challenged when something else doesn’t go his or her way, a little later on. The rest will run home to mom and dad, who will hopefully send them right back out the door with another job application, maybe after a nice pep talk and a hug.  Other parents will just hug them, tell their grown child that the executives of that company must be incompetent, and then tell their child to go rest, while the parents continue to prepare dinner for the family and do everyone’s laundry.

So You Want to Run the University Like a Business? Part 2: What is your educational product? (updated)

By David Duffy, UHPA President

The creation and transmission of knowledge have been the traditional products of higher education. Learning and scholarship acquired through study are acknowledged by the awarding of a degree. Students are not taught a particular trade. They are taught to think for themselves, to write and to speak in ways that convince others, to understand what they read, to learn how to learn, and to continue to educate themselves, wherever life takes them.

But more recently, other views of universities and their products have emerged, reflecting different values.

Workforce training

One of the most popular new products is workforce training, preparing students for today’s jobs. While this seems logical and more efficient than the liberal arts, it is actually a fool’s errand. A degree suitable for today’s market may soon be out of date. Where are the jobs for COBOL programmers, reporters, editors, stenographers, photo lab technicians, illustrators, bookstore clerks, travel agents, farmers, and elementary art and gym teachers?

Or put another way, ten years ago jobs as app developers, sustainability experts and data miners didn’t exist. Going forward, the future of lawyers and accountants doesn’t look so good as they can be replaced by apps on an iPhone, and, as we will see below, even university professors may become obsolete.

Workforce training also ignores the human element.

Most six-year olds want to be firemen, sports stars, doctors, or astronauts, but the world is not awash in any of these. Even 18-year olds rarely know what they want to become. As they take courses, they may find their planned professions are not what they wanted, or the prerequisite courses deter them. This more or less guarantees a certain level of inefficiency in earning a degree.

Buying degrees

A more insidious product for academia is what is essentially the buying of degrees. Education becomes a purchase, not learning. From the student and parental point of view, they pay good money, and lots of it, and they expect good grades and a degree. Enrollment in a course, not mastering its contents, has become the product. Professors under pressure have found it easier to succumb to grade inflation. If they don’t, they may not be promoted. Of course, quality doesn’t enter into this equation.


At an increasing numbers of universities, efficiency has become the product. Degrees awarded, time to degree, and cost of a degree have become the metrics of success for politicians and university governing bodies applying production line business models to education. Learning is just too difficult to measure. The logical responses by the university are easier grading, fewer course requirements, and lower expectations for a degree. Costs can be cut by hiring temporary faculty who lack medical and retirement benefits and are disposable if enrollments fall. Without permanent faculty to oversee academics, administrators take over and by necessity they dance to the tune of efficiency, not academics. And again, excellence doesn’t enter into things.

Economics or making a profit from the non-profits

There have always been for-profit academic institutions. With the easy availability of privately financed student loans, the for-profits could rake in the tuition dollars. However, with the federal government taking over the student loan business and going after the greediest of the for-profits, the financial awards became less attractive.

Although not guilty perhaps of such conscious avarice, the non-profits also benefited from the easy availability of money, enabling them to raise tuition, to raise faculty salaries, to construct new academic buildings and ever more luxurious dorms, and to pile up highly paid administrative cadres. The result for students, whether they graduated or not, was the massive accumulation of debt that could take decades to pay off.

With academic aid taken over by the government and for-profits increasingly brought to heel, the solution to the search for profits turned next to the non-profits, the traditional institutions of higher learning. Admittedly universities are rarely models of economic efficiency, so fast-talking financiers and venture capitalists teamed up with academics to try to sell MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses). One professor could teach a thousand or a hundred thousand students via well-produced lectures. Students would never interact with the faculty. If they needed assistance, they could interact amongst themselves on-line or with poorly-paid assistants at the academic equivalent of calling centers located around the world. Once produced, MOOC’s cost little and would represent a pure and continuing profit.

The immediate economic benefit would be elimination of the need for faculty except for the few who could be contracted to star in the MOOC’s: indeed actors could replace faculty, reading from a script. An unanticipated intermediate benefit would be the demise of most universities , except for the most prestigious which could and would charge a premium for small in-person classes taught by real life faculty and yielding prestigious degrees.

Good, Cheap or FastThe eventual result might be economically efficient but devastating for society.

Higher education would be controlled by a few large entities, which would market to a common denominator, oblivious to local or regional needs or even to innovation.


There is a saying in business that you can have two of the following three: cheap, fast, or good. American higher education seems to have chosen cheap and fast over quality. Is this good for America?

Closer to home, is cheap and fast good for Hawai`i?

As the most isolated inhabited island on the planet, we need a population that can adapt and solve new challenges as they arise. We also need educational approaches that speak both to the indigenous Kanaka Maoli, and to our many minorities who may not fit the cookie- cutter approaches of MOOCs.

Perhaps in the end maybe we need to have only one product: excellence.

Students can learn how to be excellent in some one area, be it English poetry, Latin, mathematics or sports, and to appreciate the effort needed to be excellent. During their careers, they would continue to pursue and achieve excellence in whatever fields they chose, be it law, business, academia or farming.


Added on August 2, 2015:

University of Phoenix under investigation

The ultimate university run as a business, The University of Phoenix, is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, has experienced a 54% decline in enrollment and its stock has gone from 34 to 12 dollars per share since the start of the year. Its business products included a graduate rate of just over 7% and a 19% student loan default rate. Phoenix targeted veterans of the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars as its customers, as they get support from the GI Bill to attend college.

source: Daily Beast, and Reveal


So you want to run the university like a business? Try making nice to the faculty.

By David Duffy, UHPA President.

In most businesses, it is elementary that a motivated work force is a productive one

Motivations can be financial, social or even minatory.  Businesses pay well and reward performance with bonuses, pay raises and corner offices. Medals and promotion are the currencies of the military. Unfortunately too many universities seem to be completely gormless when it comes to motivation and reward, beyond tenure and promotion.

I’d like to suggest some simple things that can work to motivate faculty

The easiest of course is money, as businesses have long known. Like everyone else, academics have families and need salaries that keep up with the cost of living.  Universities  may have mechanisms for merit increases, but too often blame the lack of awards  on unions and collective bargaining: “the unions won’t allow it”, often without even reading the faculty contract.

Many universities provide awards in recognition of productivity, teaching excellence and service

UH has all of twelve awards for its ten campuses and three thousand faculty.  Not exactly an inspiring commitment to recognizing excellence.

Even if funds are short, there are ways to reward faculty

Many universities bestow honorary titles like “University”, “Distinguished” or “Regents’” professorships.  Some of these titles are for endowed chairs, but many are not. Some are permanent, some are only of limited tenure. Chairs can be named after distinguished alumni, even if unendowed. Students, and their parents, may feel they are really getting their money’s worth, when taught by a distinguished professor. And when applying for research or other funding, such a title doesn’t hurt faculty, especially when they are up against competitors at institutions that shower titles on their own professors.

Even symbolic acts can be of benefit

At many universities, a senior faculty member, faculty senate president or other acknowledged representative of the faculty is among the leads at academic ceremonies such as graduations. This professor sits in the front row facing the audience.  While deans and directors merit respect, faculty do the teaching and award the degrees, so they merit a place of honor. Of course several thousand can’t sit in the front row but neither should they be consigned to the nose-bleed section behind the podium. It’s just a single seat but it has symbolism.


Many think that universities should be run more like businesses.  It isn’t always clear that such folks have ever had to make a payroll, but if they have, they should remember that businesses do better when their staff are working with them, not just for them.—David Duffy

UHPA Hawai’i CC Faculty Ho’olaulea

By Joel Peralto, Accounting Professor

It was the eve of the last academic senate meeting, and the HawCC faculty who came to the “Aloha JN Musto” and “Mahalo HawCC faculty” get-together at the Hilo Yacht Club on Friday, April 24th were in for a treat.

UHPA hosted the 3-hour event, and Exec Committee member, Annie Brown, a Yacht Club member, graciously used her membership to sponsor the gathering. It was all made possible by former English instructor Misty Carmichael, now UHPA Assistant Executive Director, who asked, when I mentioned the idea to her a month or so ago, “how does April 24th sound?” We began our conversation that way, explored ideas, and before long, it was clear that we could use the gathering as an opportunity to say “mahalo” to JN, AND to the HawCC faculty, and UHPA would graciously pick up the tab. When I excitedly mentioned it to EC Vice Chair, Claudia Wilcox-Boucher, she volunteered as social director and did a terrific job of organizing and insuring that a wide cross section of faculty came. Those who did were NOT disappointed. Great food, mood relaxing drinks, great company and an inspiring Mahalo speech from guest of honor, JN Musto who is leaving after over 35 years at the helm of UHPA, were the highlights. JN graced us with a short mo’olelo of his introduction to the Big Island….long gone faculty member/administrator Tom Ikeda personally introduced him to the “whos who” around town, declaring “this haole is OK”….that’s all it took….a fond memory of HawCC back in the day.

The planning committee met, along with Sam Giordanengo, incoming Exec Committee member and outgoing FPC chair, to wrap up the evening with a somewhat serious (just kidding) evaluation tete-a-tete on the back lawn. It all ended with YC member Annie Brown declaring “we need to have a pau hana gathering to close out the year.” I believe the vote was unanimous in favor of this great suggestion. If you missed the first one, maybe you can make the follow up…it promises to be fun! Many mahalos again and again to Misty Carmichael, JN Musto and the UHPA board for making this all possible. Of course, it would have been nothing had the faculty not come.

Mahalo HawCC faculty.

Malama Pono, E Holomua!!!

Musto’s Road Show: Saying farewell to faculty after 35 years

By UHPA President David Duffy.

It may have been Friday the thirteenth, but it was all good for the 80 faculty who showed up for the last stop on JN Musto’s farewell tour of the University system at Manoa Gardens. The drinks were free but the bar line was long, although the pupus and the conversations made the wait more palatable.

At the end of the gathering, about 40 remaining faculty gathered to hear JN talk about his time with the union. JN said that UHPA came out of chaos but over time has matured, with the faculty rising to the challenge when needed. He leaves a strong staff and a strong successor, Kristeen Hanaelman, as Executive Director.He reminded the faculty that though they are the heart of the university it is connections to the public that make UHPA and UH strong, so we must continually maintain and strengthen our roots in the community. Kris then took a few minutes to talk about her background and about her vision of UHPA going forward. We have faced major challenges in the past, we will face major challenges in the future, but UHPA will move forward, protecting its members and strengthening the university.

Faculty Op-Ed: Political Inaction No Longer a Luxury

By Karla Hayashi

Political activism was probably not the reason why most of us earned our degrees and found our place here at one of the University of Hawai‘i campuses. We got here initially because of our passion for our academic discipline, desire to share that passion with students in the classroom, and opportunities to engage in research and other professional activities which we believed would benefit our students, campuses, community, and profession. Now more than ever, however, we also need to become politically engaged and active.

Most of us have been fortunate to carry out our work with relatively little disruption or chaos as a result of thoughtful and strategic decisions by UHPA’s Executive Director and Executive staff members. Yet now more than ever, political activism is required of us. Each new legislative session brings bills that can negatively impact our students who we work to educate, inform, and inspire to be and do better than when they first arrived on our respective campuses.

Some legislation has been in response to questionable decisions or actions by UH administrators. The impact of that legislation, however, can threaten the students and work we carry out in our individual classes and which could take years or decades to recover from, if ever. Recently deferred House Bill 555 is an example of this kind of legislation which, if passed, would have gutted the Languages and Literature of Europe and Americas department, among others. Eliminating so many language programs in one fell swoop would threaten the ability of many undergraduate students to obtain the required one or two languages needed to pursue graduate degrees. That bill, if passed and signed into law, might have reduced some of the financial challenges UH is facing, but at what long term cost to the undergraduate education of our students who choose to remain in-state for their higher education? What did they do to deserve this kind of legislation? Thankfully HB 555 was met by an organized group of students and educators who saw the danger of this bill and who moved in a coordinated way to voice their objections. HB 555 was deferred and hopefully is unlikely to be resuscitated this session.

The threat of legislation like HB 555, however, does not disappear at the end of this legislative session.

Bills like HB 555 and others are why it is vital now, more perhaps than ever, that we all become politically active in some way. This political activism can take many forms.

You can be politically active and engaged by regularly checking UHPA’s Legislative Action Center. This new feature on UHPA’s website identifies and summarizes the bills UHPA is tracking and can educate members about various issues we may not always be aware of within the isolation of our individual department and campus units.

You can also take a few minutes to contact your legislative representatives to let them know your thoughts about bills they introduced or which they may eventually vote on by submitting testimony.

You can consult with UHPA Executive staff to find out how you and other members can organize and carry out actions that help legislators and elected officials understand what we think about their efforts to address the numerous challenges facing the university. They need to hear our voices and be educated about how their legislation will impact our ability to educate students who we all hope will become engaged citizens making thoughtful evidence based decisions which will impact our community as well as future students who attend the University of Hawai‘i long after we leave our posts.

Sitting quietly on the side assuming someone else will do something or deliberately choosing not to engage in political discourse is no longer a luxury we have. Our students, their future, and our ability to educate them objectively and thoughtfully depends on your political activism.

Faculty Op-Ed: A Hard Knocks Education

By Robert Cooney, PhD

As a young research professor, working within a university research unit in which faculty were fairly judged by their accomplishments and potential, I could not understand why in the world faculty needed a union. After all, didn’t academics believe in truth and honor above all else? Why would one even need a contract in such circumstances? Over the last 30 years I have learned and discovered a lot concerning the role of vitamins in health, epidemiology of cancer, and the chemistry of tocopherols, but what stands out is my free and extensive continuing education relating to narcissism, greed, jealousy, sociopathy, and most recently, misogyny. This hard knocks education into personality disorders along with the passage of time has eroded my early perception that leaders and administrators base actions and decisions on fairness and what is best for the institution. Unfortunately individuals that lack moral integrity increasingly occupy positions of power, both within the university system and in our broader society, and the consequences can be devastating, particularly for those that are most vulnerable.

Although none of us like to perceive ourselves as “vulnerable”, especially when we are young, the reality is that students, staff, and untenured faculty are easy targets for exploitation, abuse, and mistreatment. Even tenure does not provide a guaranteed defense against the forces of darkness when they choose to attack. It usually is only at the point that one comes up against such an attack that one appreciates the value of having an employment contract and the strength of a cooperative organization behind you, such as UHPA. JN Musto one day made one of the best analogies I have ever heard to the UHPA Board of Directors that “UHPA was like health insurance, nobody likes paying for it but the day you need it, you are awfully glad you have it”. To further the analogy, health insurance cannot always save you from the ravages of an incurable disease such as pancreatic cancer, but there are many diseases that it can save you from and it certainly can help save your family from economic ruin as you fight the disease. As many without the benefits of union representation have learned, the cost and emotional strain of fighting for justice, finding the right lawyer, and taking the fight to a large and uncaring institution while collecting unemployment can be too much for most to handle and, indeed, many give up the fight early on because of the enormity of the battle.

While UHPA is often constrained by the limits of labor law and our contract, as an organization it has not been limited by lack of expertise or desire to fight on behalf of its constituents. On balance I have personally observed many success stories where UHPA has gone to bat for the rights of faculty and perhaps of greater importance is the deterrent effect that UHPA has on egregious behavior of administrators. At least the more enlightened administrators soon learn that behaving properly is better than taking on UHPA. Alas, as a researcher in the field of cancer prevention, I clearly understand the frustration that comes with preventing a problem – there are no grateful patients at the end of the road! The problems that a well-negotiated contract and a reputation for success save us from every day may never fully reveal themselves to our consciousness, however, it behooves us to consider once in a while what life might be like in a world in which there was no counterbalance to power in the workplace. I know that without UHPA I would not be where I am today. Now If only my health insurance only cost 1% of my salary!