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Don’t Play Sen. Donna Mercado Kim’s Game

Sen. Donna Mercado Kim is at it again.

SB 3269, SD 1, a revised version of the bill relating to academic tenure at the UH, stealthily attempts to diminish the recognition and importance over the cornerstones of academia – namely academic governance, shared governance, and academic consultation of UH faculty.  The bill will ultimately undermine the existing UH shared governance structure that ensures that faculty rights are protected and more importantly that faculty voice is recognized.  It’s an unprecedented and underhanded attempt by the Legislature to gain full control and authority over the University of Hawaiʻi.  

Don’t fall for it

The bill is an attempt by Sen. 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 their exclusive jurisdiction over the internal structure, management, and operation of the UH – thereby granting themselves as the governing body over the Board of Regents.  On the surface, the revised version of the bill appears to be benign by making minor concessions to certain classifications of UH faculty.  However, the bigger picture is that under R-20, Roles and Consultation Protocols Involving UH Administration, UH Professional Assembly, and UH Faculty Senates, of the Unit 7 Agreement, such matters as faculty classification, faculty five-year periodic review, and topics that impact faculty which are all subject to a shared governance structure will be swept away with this legislation.  Thereafter, what will stop the legislature from coming back year after year seeking to remove Faculty voice in the determination of academic programs, mission, strategic planning direction, goals, assessments, faculty criteria, etc.  This is nothing other than a veiled attempt for the Legislature to trump the authority of the Board of Regents in that they can meddle and control the UH. This must be stopped before going any further.

The Legislature, as a governing body, should not be involved in any type of UH policymaking. That is a recognized responsibility and jurisdiction of the UH administration and UH Board of Regents. This bill is nothing other than a vehicle for the Legislature to establish itself as a supra-Board of Regents, supplanting the authority granted to the UH Board of Regents. It also sets a dangerous precedent that allows the Legislature to usurp the authority of not only the Board of Regents but also the UH administration. The Legislature’s track record has shown it doesn’t have requisite knowledge, expertise, and understanding of a higher education system nor appreciate the nuances of an academic environment.  Taking away core principles of academia such as academic governance and shared-governance will strip away the voice of faculty in their work, their occupation, and the academy they serve.  

Taking away what you already have

Through the UHPA and contractually established collective bargaining rights, faculty have a voice in shaping their future and how the academy operates and functions in order to prepare its students for productive employment in the State’s workforce and to become engaged citizens of our community.  By allowing the Legislature to become the primary entity that governs the UH, all policies, procedures, rules and regulations will eventually all be converted and codified in statute. The role of the Faculty Senates will become obsolete and the faculty’s ability to discuss concerns and recommend any changes with UH administration and the UH Board of Regents will cease to exist. 

UHPA urges UH faculty to use your VOICE in opposition to this bill before your VOICE is stolen by these Legislators.