Monday, October 08, 2012


A challenge to the Senate: Assist, rather than destroy, the University of Hawaii

“Star Chamber (noun): a former court of inquisitorial and criminal jurisdiction that sat without a jury and that became noted for its arbitrary methods and severe punishments, abolished in England in 1641 but not yet in Hawaii.”
by Larry Geller

Well, that’s my suggestion to the Webster folks for their next edition.

Dear Senators:

There’s a fork in the road ahead for the University of Hawaii, and which path they will take depends to some extent on how the Senate proceeds with its current inquisition.

One way is a hard road, with reduced chances to attract quality leadership in both academics and sports, which could diminish the value of a UH education both for past and new graduates.

The other path allows for continued growth and excellence, helping to assure bright opportunities for UH graduates, the prosperity of our state, and perhaps even the growth of a winning athletic program, if that’s what you really care about.

Should an excess of scrutiny and tough political pressure result in the removal of the current UH president, it is hard to imagine that finding a replacement will be easy. Any candidate would seek similar contractual protections knowing that the Legislature reserves the right to interrogate and interfere with the management of the university at any time. Who would want to risk their career by taking a job as president of the University of Hawaii?

Arguably the costs of defending itself against outside interference will far exceed the $250,000 or so lost in the original Stevie Wonder blunder. That money appears to be gone, but it pales in comparison to the expenditures resulting from the outside interference.

The waste will be compounded if the Board of Regents, reacting to political pressure, invokes short-term sanctions that have long-term consequences for the quality of education in Hawaii.

Instead of placing blame, it would be far more productive for the Legislature and other concerned individuals to offer assistance to UH with an aim to strengthening its internal governance so that a similar incident is less likely to happen in the future.

When the special committee convenes again, it would be refreshing, and a service to present and future UH graduates and to the state economy, if the committee would offer to help. Try it.


Excellent Larry, you need to get this in the star advertiser, very important perspective and one that is sorely needed, charmaine c

I'm thinking of at least a letter to the editor. It shouldn't take too many words to get the idea across that the Senate could be doing a lot of harm and little good for UH.

Charmaine, thanks for the nudge. I just sent off a proposed op-ed. Since I got one in less than a month ago, I don't know if they will accept another so soon.

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