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Do Senate Leaders Believe in UH?

The World Believes UH is a Top-Ranking University

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

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

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

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

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

HMSA Believes in UH with $1 Million Endowed Professorship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Time to Elect People to Believe in UH

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