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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.