« Purdue College of Science Dean Search | Main | Health Care Reform Being Fitted For Cement Overcoat: Robert Reich »

Continuing Trouble in Paradise - the UH Presidential Search

Dr. Robert Jones recently removed himself from the list of candidates for president at the University of Hawaii. Public sentiment for Dr. Jones did not seem to be especially strong and perhaps this had something to do with it. But I believe that he would have been a very good fit for Hawaii despite being an outsider. With a really good leader UH could be a very sound institution that nailed some niches of true excellence. Agriculture is but one example. Dr. Jones could have been particularly good in this area. There are spectacular observatories and even a supercomputer outpost in Hawaii. Karl Seff, an outstaniding X-ray crystallographer, has been at Hawaii for a long time now. One of his PhD students is now one of the world's leaders in powder X-ray diffraction. For many years work has been done at Hawaii on identifying marine natural products for medicinal and other purposes. The garden island of Kawaii has a university agricultural research center staffed by, among others, a U of M plant pathologist.

But this is now water over the Manawaiopuna Falls.

This unfortunate development left one woman still standing and, unfortunately, she has a potentially fatal flaw.

The Board of Regents at the UH has backed the wrong horse fairly often in the past. They currently have to decide whether to vet the remaining candidate - and take the consequences - or call for a new deck. Since we will shortly be facing a presidential search here at Minnesota, perhaps some lessons can be learned from the UH fiasco?

The situation is described by MercuryNews:

to be continued - computer out of electrons...

Argh... It just gets worse:

Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday said she does not want to get directly involved in the issue, but would support an extension of the search for the next president.

"I'm sure there are going to be some on the board that feel they need to extend it (the search)," she said, adding that "It's a difficult time to attract people."

Former Gov. Ben Cayetano yesterday said he feels the selection committee should submit additional names to the regents in light of the withdrawal of Robert Jones, a senior vice president at the University of Minnesota, as a candidate.

"They should continue their search. To give the regents one nominee, there's no choice at all. It's as if the search committee made the decision," Cayetano said.

He also directly addressed Greenwood's candidacy, suggesting that questions of conflict of interest in the UC system may prevent her from getting the full backing of the community as the new UH president.

And at a time when the university is facing $148 million in budget cuts over two years, strong leadership is vital, he said.

"It's important that whoever comes on, comes on clean and can get the trust of the faculty, the regents and also the public," Cayetano said.

Landon said he doesn't feel the regents are left without a choice, although there are regents "who look at it that way."

The comments are almost uniformly negative, for example:

As a University alumni and employee, I'm saddened that this is the best candidate that the search committee and the BOR can come up. I think it is quite evident, if you read the posts here, that her selection for the presidency is not supported by the public at large. Whereas, the UH system needs to get away from the "good old boy mentality", we have a finalist here who comes from a background that indicates she would perpetuate it. Do people deserve second chances? Sure they do, but not at this level, for such an important position. I'd only favor giving her a second chance for a lower administrative position, not for the Presidency of our primary university. What kind of message will that send? "You can commit wrong-doing and have questionable morality and be rewarded as the President of the University of Hawaii. We don't care, we'll take other people's left overs and give them one of our most important positions in the state".

Ao no ho'i. Hawaii deserves better than this.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)