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Fall 2022 Welcome to UHPA Members

Aloha Kākou and Welcome Back!

I hope you’re acclimating well to the demands of this new fall semester. I intentionally held off from sending you this communication last week because I know the first week of the semester can be overwhelming, but I wanted to officially welcome you back and give you a brief update on what lies ahead of us in the coming academic year.  

Hope You Had A Good Break

Although the pandemic is still with us, vaccinations and other mitigating tools and factors have allowed us to begin returning to the activities many of us enjoy, like traveling, so I hope that you were able to take advantage of the opportunities to enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation during the off-duty period this summer.

We’ve Been Working For You Over The Summer

While the summer months offer a brief break for many of you from teaching, research, and service, the business and operations of the University of Hawai‘i never stops. That means the work of UHPA also continues.  As you may know, it requires constant vigilance and relentless monitoring, analysis, and assessment of issues to ensure UHPA members can continue to teach, conduct research, and engage in service without distractions. Academic freedom for faculty and the principles and accomplishments of faculty that have made the University of Hawai‘i great can never be taken for granted.

Including Regular Meetings Related to Key Issues

Over the summer UHPA has remained active and busy in meetings with the UH administration over a number of issues impacting faculty.  From weekly meetings of the BOR appointed steering committee over the implementation of the SCR 201 recommendations, to participating and facilitating the “S” (i.e. Specialist) Faculty Workgroup meetings, to the filing of a prohibited practice complaint (PPC) with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB) against the UH, and actively participating and assisting campaigns in the Stateʻs election campaigns for Governor and Lieutenant Governor during the primary election.  

We’re Hoping for the Best But Preparing For Adversity

Over the past year, we have seen unprecedented levels of threats to academic freedom, tenure, and even faculty classification from certain legislators and even from certain members of the UH Board of Regents. While the intensity of these threats may have waned during the summer months, they still remain at the forefront of conversations and discussions at the UH.  While they now lurk below the surface, we should not be surprised nor should we be ill-prepared if they rear their heads in the form of ill-conceived bills and resolutions from the legislature or findings from BOR permitted interaction groups. Please be assured UHPA stands ready to defend academic freedom and the contractual rights of our members. 

The General Election Gives Us Cause for Optimism

With the general election approaching in November, we are hopeful for a more collaborative and open State administration that already possesses a deeper appreciation for the UH and the significant and important role of the UH faculty.  There is no question that the Legislature will undergo changes and there will be new members and new committee assignments occurring before the next legislative session. In the months ahead, we’ll spend time getting to know our elected officials better and ensure they have a deeper understanding, appreciation, and recognition of faculty.

We’re Best When We Work Together

We have all witnessed the power of SOLIDARITY in what we can do when we come together collectively as a whole.  We have demonstrated we can rise to whatever challenge is before us and be a force to be reckoned.  UHPA will continue to keep members informed of new developments, provide timely and pertinent and relevant information, provide the highest quality of representation to the membership, and provide recommendations on how to get involved so that we can continue to have a positive impact on the University of Hawai‘i and our State.

Mahalo nui loa,

Christian Fern